Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Nov. 08, 2015 - 8:25 a.m.


I got a call from NewWifey(tm)'s mother last week.

"How come you're not on Facebook?" she said.

The woman is 78 years old.


"Ma, I don't want to be on Facebook. I have enough stalkers already."

"How am I going to know if you're hitting my daughter if you're not on Facebook?"

"Ma, I'm not hitting your daughter. Besides, if I were hitting her I wouldn't be writing about it for all the police departments in the world to see." (I didn't add that if I hit NewWifey(tm) she probably 1. deserved it, and 2. would kill me in my sleep later.)

"Yes you would!" she said. "Everybody writes everything that they do in those books! I saw it on the news."

"Ma, listen, I'm a news anchor too, remember? Trust me when I tell you we'll lie about anything if we think it will make you listen."

"I don't care. You start a Facebook page so I can keep my eye on you!"

"Ok, Ma."

I didn't start a Facebook page. She's 78 years old. By this time tomorrow she won't even remember we had that conversation.

I really don't want to sociably network. I have enough trouble mustering the energy to update this damn diary twice a year. Besides, I don't need all my old classmates from Guinea Suburb High School in New Jersey seeing how much I beat my wife. Could make it awkward at the next reunion.

I was hanging out with my friend Dave over the weekend and he told me that HIS grandmother phoned last week from her retirement home in Florida. He picked up the receiver, said "Hello", and all he heard was "ARE YOU DOING CRACK??"

Dave and his wife live in a nice home in a nice neighborhood in Nassau County, Long Island. His wife is a corporate lawyer for a large firm in Manhattan. They have a 4 year old daughter, and I think the most trouble Dave ever got into in his life was getting hauled to municipal court for not paying a double-parking ticket. I suppose, theoretically, Dave could be doing crack...but Dave is not doing crack. He's not.

However his grandmother saw a documentary about the rising drug epidemic in the suburbs and assumed her grandson was swept up in it. The documentary did warn that "ALL children are at risk" after all.

Maybe if she'd logged on to his Facebook page she would have seen how boring he really is. His mood status is always "ennui", and all he does is put up pictures of his daughter, their cat, his daughter in her cat costume, and his baseball card collection.

Oh yeah, and last year my own grandmother - who is 91 and still driving, if you want something to be afraid of this Halloween - phoned me with an urgent warning to lie down on my stomach and look under my car every morning before going to work. Muggers are now hiding there. They'll jump out and overpower me as I'm putting my key in the door, then go in and ravish NewWifey(tm). It was no use reassuring her that a Subaru WRX sits barely 4 inches off the ground. Anyone skinny enough to get under my car without jacking it up first does not have enough mass to pose a threat to either me OR NewWifey(tm). And anyone lying anywhere up here at 3am is more likely to encounter a bear before me. It's nature's own security system.

But of course, Grandma did not want to hear it. So I had NewWifey(tm) take a pic of me in my nice work clothes, lying prone on my oily, dirty driveway with one arm under my car and the other giving the thumbs-up to the camera. I sent it to her to show I was following her advice. She wouldn't have been able to sleep otherwise. Which would mean I wouldn't sleep either, since she'd be over here every night checking under my car and phoning from the driveway that everything was ok.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "In a real dark night of the soul it is always 3 o'clock in the morning, day after day." I don't know what relevance this quote has to the story, but I'm putting it up here anyway because it makes me seem smart(er).

Oh wait - there IS some relevance! Here it is: F. Scott Fitzgerald is full of shit. 3 o'clock in the morning is not nearly as dark as my soul. At least, not 3 o'clock in the morning when I walk down to my car to leave for work. We have motion sensing spotlights on our garage that flood half the neighborhood with a 7 kajillion candlepower beam if anything larger than a severed child's head rolls across our driveway (see comment about bears, above). Normally the light kicks on when I reach the bottom step of our front porch, then turns off by the time the Mighty WRX reaches the top of the hill.

But last Wednesday when I opened our front door the spotlight was already on, illuminating the driveway, our front yard, and a good 300 yards into the woods across the street.

Something was out there.

Ok, I don't want to sound too dramatic here. It's not all that unusual, really, to open my door at 3am and find the spotlight on. We live in the middle of a state forest. Fox, deer, the odd lynx, turkey, and yes, bear, all tramp across our yard and down the driveway on a regular basis. Usually the light is enough to scare them, so they rarely linger long enough to have a close encounter with a bleary eyed human staggering down the front steps to his car. Thank god, since I smell like Alpo and would be easy prey.

But for some reason...for some reason, this particular time the light gave me pause. I don't know what it was, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up as soon as I stepped out the door.

But waddaya gonna do, right? I had to get to work. I couldn't call my boss at 3am and say "I'm not coming in because a potential killer might be lying under my car waiting to shoot me." If I did that, the next morning he'd be waiting under the car for me, with a gun and a pink slip.

So I walked down my porch steps to my car and put the key in.

And a hand grabbed my ankle.

"BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!" I dropped my lunch bag and ran screaming down the driveway, hands waving wildly over my head like a stereotypical '50's sitcom housewife who's just seen a mouse.

This, of course, instantly woke NewWifey(tm), who ran to the door to see what happened. She flipped on the porch light and stuck her head out.

"Honey? Honey? Is everything alright?"

"Yeah Pookie, everything's fine" I called back. "Go back to bed."

"Where are you??"

"...down by the Kratiz's house."

"Down by the....that's almost two blocks away! What the hell are you doing there? Aren't you going to work?"

I called as softly as I could, considering the distance. "I...think...a...midget ...is...under...my ...car... and...he ....wants....to...killllllll....me."

From two blocks away, I could hear her sigh.

"Idiot" she called back, "there is not a midget under your car trying to kill you. Now get back here and go to work."

"NO! There is! I was just about to get in the car when a little hand reached out and grabbed my ankle! I'm telling you, there's a midget under there and he wants to kill me!"

She sighed again, then started down the porch stairs in her robe and slippers.

"STOP!" I screamed. "He'll get you too!" I began sprinting back up the hill to save my wife.

"Well, what are you going to do?" she said as I came huffing towards her.

"I'm gonna shoot him!"

"We don't own a gun" she said.

"I'm gonna buy one."

"It's three in the fucking morning! Where are you going to buy a gun at three in the morning? And how are you going to get there if you can't get in your fucking car?"

She pushed me aside and headed for the WRX.

"NO! STOP!" I screamed. But she ignored me, as usual, and I was too paralyzed with fear to run and grab her.

She squatted down and peered under the car.

"Oh for god's...." she said.

"What is it? Is it a midget? Is it Chuckie?"

She stood up, walked over to the garage, grabbed a rake, and walked back to the car. She bent over and swept the rake from side to side under the Subaru.

Out from under the car ran a raccoon. A little baby raccoon. With a piece of my peanut butter sandwich in its mouth.

"There's you midget, tough guy" she said. "He wanted your lunch, not your life. Now go to work."

"But...I need a sandwich!"

She bent back over and fished under the car with the rake.

"Here's the rest of it. Now go already!"

I wiped the grit and radiator fluid and raccoon spit off the bread and stuck it in my bag. NewWifey(tm) climbed back up the stairs and went inside, turning the light off behind her. She didn't even look back or say goodnight. I know she resigned herself to her fate years ago, but at least she could disguise the fact once in a while. Like when her husband just barely managed to escape a midnight evisceration by a potentially vicious killer. Sheesh. Women.

I couldn't sit and stew over her callous disregard for my feelings though because I had to make up for lost time. Being late for work when you're a network radio announcer is different from being late for work at any other job I've ever had, including when I had my own local radio show. I had to gun it, and so I did. The first fifteen miles or so of my commute consists of backwater moonshine trails, basically. Until I hit the main highway I wind my way along a series of unlit switchbacks and logging passes and old cart paths that sometimes double as an Army Ranger training course. It's rough.

It's also unpatrolled by local police departments. They probably figure if someone survives that road, they must have been driving sanely. They weren't gonna risk blowing out the shocks on their brand new Challenger Police Specials by canvassing that Bataan death march of a road unless it was an emergency.

Which means that anyone stupid enough, or with a rally-bred Subaru WRX, can pretty much go as fast as their stomach allows down those 15 miles without worrying about a set of annoying blue and red flashing lights clogging up their rear view mirror.

I gunned it.

I mean, I really gunned it. I normally fly down that road even if I've got plenty of time to spare, just for the adrenaline rush. But this time, with the specter of a missed mic break looming over my head, I really put the hammer down. Sideways on the gravel turns, the whole bit.

And I hit a family of raccoons crossing the road.

I saw them, and could have missed them if I swerved. But I was at a point in the road where if I swerved, well...I didn't swerve.

I did, however, stop. About 40 feet down the road I managed to skid to a halt and turn the car around so I could shine my headlights on the carnage. I could see two little flattened bodies, with two other little moving bodies and a larger one nervously sniffing them as they glanced around and skittered to and from the woods on the edge of the road. I felt terrible. I reached into my bag and grabbed the sandwich, flinging it towards them.

"I'm sorry!" I yelled. "I didn't see you!" (A lie.) "I'm sorry!!"

I got back in my car and gunned it harder still, both from trying to escape the scene of my crime, and now having to make up even MORE time.

Thankfully Stanley the Mighty WRX came through again, and I made it to work with even a few minutes to spare. It took all the skills of my m├ętier to get my breathing under control and not give listeners any indication that I'd just committed basically mass murder and was shaking like a leaf. And didn't have my lunch with me. (That last was not that big a problem, it turned out. We have a communal refrigerator in the break room, and I learned long ago that if I take just a very small piece from each of the bags, hardly anyone ever notices and I can get a pretty decent sized meal from the cumulative poaching.)

I wish I had a funny or ironic way to wrap this story up, but I don't. That's just the way life is, I guess. A tiny fist tugged at my pant leg as I was getting in my car, my wife saved my ass (again), a raccoon family is now sitting shiva, and I had to steal my co-workers' lunches to survive. That was it.

Although, there was this: when I got into bed that night NewWifey(tm) had put a severed stuffed toy raccoon head under my cover. I screamed and ran down the hall, locking myself in the bathroom. NewWifey(tm) laughed and laughed.

Y'know, it's a good thing I'm not on Facebook. My mother-in-law probably would not like reading about how much I'd like to hit her daughter sometimes. Even if no jury would convict me.

G'night kids. Don't forget to check under your cars. Oh, and put a lock on your Tupperware if you bring it to work. Just sayin'.





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