Mondays are seldom good days at this house, but everything is relative and so this also is relative. My wife chose a Monday to drive her old red BMW halfway through a pylon, out onto the deck, into a bench, narrowly missing a hot tub, disturbing her pet lizard (who resides in potted plants) and called me at 7:45 a.m. to say, “I haven’t had a good morning, and I think my car tried to kill me.”
We don’t do stress well, and when a stressful event occurs we begin to speak as though each of us has impaired hearing or too much hair in the ear. (I do, she doesn’t). “It did what?” I asked.
“I had an accident!” she responded.
“Oh, are you OK? What about the other fellow?”
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“Who?” she asked.
“The guy who hit you,” I offered.
“Oh, it was just me and the car,” she explained.
Saying the wrong thing here could mean weeks in “solitary,” so I’m very careful. "Are you both OK?” I asked.
“Who?” she answers.
“You and the car.”
"No, and I’m mad at myself for being so stupid.”
I sense a way of going on the offensive here, but in my disabled state all I could think of to say was, “How can you have an accident in the car by yourself?”
“We’ll talk about it later,” comes her reply as she has somehow blitzed from nowhere and taken the offense in a game in which I was 20 points ahead.
"What happened?" I venture.
We have a used BMW that has sat in the carport for years; it had not a scratch, not a blemish, was waxed often, washed more often and seldom needed servicing. This ain’t no pickup truck after all, and when it goes in for repairs, your savings go in with it and never come out.
This particular Monday morning, with a handful of coffee and a mind full of whatever, my wife put the “pedal to the metal,” driving “Ol Red” onto a deck that sits about 15 feet above ground and has two levels. I’d liked to have seen the look on that lizard’s face when he saw that red behemoth screaming across his sacred hunting grounds.
The potted plants knew a freeze was coming so they were resigned to death anyway, but that ol’ chameleon probably looked like a neon sign dodging that BMW, with one eye going this way and the other going that.
I came home to find the car I had spent many an afternoon washing and waxing suffering from (to use my niece’s medical terms) severe abrasions and contusions, and the lizard scurrying across the deck in search of his family and a major part of his tail.
The red beamer had struck the pylon first, and it could have been over right there except for a few bricks that decided to hold. If they’d fallen the whole carport would have caved in, and there goes last fall’s paint job.
My wife left a note saying something about “being a bad girl,” which struck me as odd until I realized my good fortune.
When I was growing up the “bad girls” were just girls your mother didn’t want you to be seen around. Truth was, they could relate in ways the “good girls” couldn’t; like understanding “baseball” and all that.
So when my wife drove “Ol' Red” into the pylon, which cost us what we used to make in a month and said she’d been a “bad girl," I’m grinning like a possum. Hey, a little “baseball” at my age can’t be all that bad.
Using another sports metaphor, she may have hit the wall at Atlanta Motor Speedway but her chief mechanic was planning see she finished the race with a smile on her face, and his. It’s all in how I look at it.
Sonny Harmon of Milledgeville is the assistant athletic director at Georgia Military College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.