Friday, April 13, 2018

I'm scannable and my wife is from Hannibal but don't worry, I'm fine

My wife has a new car. She didn’t want it. 

She was perfectly happy with her 2005 car that had only 65,000 miles on it. She loved everything about that car —  the powder blue paint that matched her eyes, the classic lines, the white leather interior, the polished wood burling on the dashboard.

For the last couple of years I suspected the car’s days were numbered and kept suggesting we at least consider replacing it but she said no, it was the best car she ever had and that men glanced over at her whenever she pulled up next to them at stop lights. (I found that disturbing but she apparently liked all that attention.)

Shortly before Christmas the car started having issues. I took it to a repair shop and laid out $3,400. The mechanic assured me it was good for another 13 years.

But one day last month it started making ominous noises. I drove it over back roads  I didn’t want to take it out on the highway — to the shop and was given an estimate of $5,000 for repairs, roughly the same amount as the Blue Book value of the car had it been fully functional. My wife reluctantly agreed it made no sense to spend that much money.

The car was shimmying like an Ikette, the brakes were shot, black smoke was billowing from the exhaust, the tires had suddenly lost all their tread and I think (but am not sure — I’m not mechanically inclined so I don’t understand these things) the engine was about to fall out. The mechanic told me to be extra careful driving it to the dealership to trade it in because it wasn’t safe.

En route to the dealer’s that afternoon we smelled smoke. We pressed on. A half mile before we arrived I removed my foot from the accelerator so we could coast to a crawl before turning in since there were no brakes. As we pulled into the parking lot the car gave a loud shudder, the engine shut down and, I assume, at that precise moment its soul ascended to car heaven leaving its beautiful powder blue body behind, looking as perfect as the day it came off the assembly line.

A couple of hours later, we drove out in a new car. My wife’s beloved car fetched $1,500 as a trade-in and that was generous given the amount of work it needed. I’m sure it was flat-bedded to the junkyard that afternoon.

The new car is fun to drive. Its electronics are as sophisticated as a 787’s, but the body is slung low — really really low. You can’t just slide into the driver’s seat, you have to squat alongside it, then move slowly and carefully across the seat to fit behind the wheel. A driver five feet tall would have no problem but I’m a six-footer. (Full disclosure. I’m five eleven and three-quarters but have always lied on driver’s licenses and passport applications. Six feet sounds much more impressive.)

Which brings me to the night before last. We had taken the new car out to dinner. I had pasta, my wife had chicken, the car had 92 octane. I said I wanted to drive home because I rarely have the opportunity to ride in it, much less drive it. As I was getting into the driver’s seat, I didn’t squat low enough and POW, smashed the crown of my head — hard — against the roof. For a moment I saw stars and thought I was going to pass out, the pain was that bad. 

I couldn’t sleep that night because I had a terrific headache and kept reaching up to touch the knot growing atop my head, which is now roughly the size of Taiwan. 

Yesterday afternoon, remembering news stories about famous people who’ve died after seemingly innocuous head injuries, I insisted my wife drive me to the ER, where, at check-in, I was given a wristband that identified me not as Tom Dryden but as a bar code. The bad news: I’m no longer a person. The good news: I can be scanned by a Target cashier. 

Speaking of scans, a CAT scan revealed I was fine. No bleeding to the brain. 

But this morning, nearly 36 hours after my stupid accident, my head is still THROBBING. No amount of extra strength Tylenol will make it stop. And I can't remember the point I was going to make when I started writing this post. 

I am almost sure I did have one. 

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