short-term memory serves well . . . in some cases

A few weeks ago as I was reading what I thought to be a new book I’d picked up at the library, I kept thinking Wait a minute! I’ve read this book already. But it was so funny, I just kept on reading. When I finally closed the book the last time, after nearly 600 pages, I still wasn’t sure that I hadn’t already read it, but that hadn’t kept me from enjoying it, perhaps just as much or more than I had before–IF there was a before. So I decided since I’m unable to garner the time to write the post I had in mind for tomorrow, I’d re-run one that I first published here November 9 of 2009. I shared it at a meeting today with a new writing group I’ve joined as a sample of the kind of things I like to write and it got some laughs, and reminded me how good it feels to laugh out loud sometimes. I think we could all agree that too many things are going on in the U.S. and worldwide that make it difficult to find the funny side of life, even in the interest of keeping your sanity. I leave it to better bloggers than I to write about those serious things. I’m always on a quest for the funny side of life I feel is almost as important. This is a true story. I prefer to present it as a story written in second person because the people you’ll read about here couldn’t possibly be anybody I know! And if I’m lucky, like me, maybe you’ll be old enough not to remember half of what you may have read here in 2009.

* * * * * * * *

For weeks she’d wanted to see the new Michael Moore movie, CAPITALISM. So that morning over breakfast, when she saw the calendar presented nothing more pressing or interesting to do, she suggested that maybe today would be a good day to go to a matinee and see it at last.

But when they arrived at the movie complex–chosen because it had stadium seating–the ticket seller said it was sold out. She glanced at the next showing, and sure enough that show was sold out too. So were the next two. It was barely past noon and no one else was in sight; they’d driven a full half hour to get here–they were several minutes early. Surely that could simply not be right! Were they even showing the movie there? Or was it a ploy to lure people in order sell tickets to one of the other movies?

It made her so angry she said no to her husband’s suggestion to see one of the other 20 or so movies on the schedule. Could they still make it to the one other theater in town where the movie was scheduled to start in half an hour? He said, sure they could make it. The first 10 or 15 minutes after showtime were always used for previews anyhow. Piece of cake. They’d just jump in the car in drive downtown and see it there.

So they did. The problem was, they were so far on the side of town they weren’t familiar with, and they weren’t sure of the theater’s address. While there was no question they could find the it, it might take time and they needed to find it FAST. It would be best to know exactly what street it was on. So she went to work fiddling with the GPS built into the car’s dashboard. The nice voice would tell them exactly where to turn and when. First she laboriously typed in the crossroads where they thought the theater was located. No luck. So then she tried typing in the name of the theater. Still no luck. She scowled every time her husband suggested she try some different. He always thought she was inept at figuring out electronic things. Grrrrrrrrrr!

No the problem lay in the system…at some point in the menu it would shift to another window and a quick decision had to be made about which option to press next and it kept leading her to dead ends anyway. So she tried again. And again. And again.

All the time she struggled, he keeps driving and his foot is pressing the pedal a little harder and he doesn’t even realize it. He’s getting frustrated because she’s beginning to cuss a little. Okay, a lot, calling the instrument panel a…well, just imagine you know, ’cause you surely do if you have a little imagination. He keeps telling her to watch her language, there’s no call for that, and suggesting things she’s tried already over and over again.

All that time she’s getting madder and madder because she knows the problem is not her, the problem is the GPS that won’t let her enter what she needs to enter, dumb machine. This thing is absolutely useless, she cries out in annoyance, at just about the same time she sees him glance in the rear view mirror and hears him say “Uh Oh!” Then she hears the siren and feels the car pulling over to the road’s right, hears a frantic motorcycle cop shout, over there, I’m right in the lane of traffic here! a sitting duck to get hit!” And he was, as they were on an Interstate highway with about five lanes of traffic and cars were whizzing by. Who could possibly know where they were supposed to pull over on an interstate highway when they’d never been pulled over on a multi-laned highway before?!

When they were all finally properly positioned, over to the left of the fassssssssst lanes that were separated from the traffic going the other way by the railings, the young cop–just doing his duty–leaned in and said I pulled you over because you were going 65 mph in a 50 mph zone. At least he didn’t holler as us, she thought.

She began to see dollar signs with wings on them flying out the car window while the two men talked. Her hubby didn’t bother arguing because he knew he was as guilty as they come. He had been driving way too fast all the while he was trying to tell his wife how to program the GPS on the dash, so neither of them noticed the speed change, and how could he help it if his foot kept getting heavier and heavier? After all was said and done the nice young cop only charged them with going five miles over the limit, which was only $105! It could have been much worse.

Now this was a couple who’ve been known to drive miles out of the way just to get something they need for a couple dollars less. They were so careful with their expenses and prided themselves on how inexpensively they’ve managed to live from month to month since their retirement. They even managed to afford some nice travel and new shoes now and then, and they’d never had to go without a meal because they were so frugal. Damned movie anyhow. Because of Michael Moore they were going to have to fork over $105 just like that.

Afterward, they swallowed hard and fought their way back into traffic from the fast lane side and when they got through bickering and trying to fix the blame and she said that he had no one but himself to blame because he was driving and that meant he was the one that had to pay attention to the road signs. She was tired being blamed for everything, so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. After a little more back and forth insulting, they finally cooled down a little, decided to laugh about it, it was only money after all, nobody had been hurt. So there they sat, mostly in silence, while they tried to decide what to do next. Maybe they should just go back home and watch television. That would be such a letdown, though, wouldn’t it?

No! she said emphatically. We can’t go home without doing something to distract us and take the bad taste out of our mouths. In he end, they looked at the clock and decided to go on and see the movie just like they’d planned, only downtown at the other theater. It was a cinch, he said, because the movies wasted so much time on previews anyhow so it wouldn’t matter if they were late. And after that she remembered the Yellow Pages under her seat where she could quickly look up the address in the black pages, so it was decided. Who needed electronic gadgets when they had a printed book of addresses under the seat?

They parked in the garage and rushed to the theater all out of breath. He plunked the plastic down and announced two for Capitalism please. The clerk swiped the card and handed him the receipt to sign. He was scribbling fast when she–just in case–thought it a good idea to ask has the movie started yet?

The clerk checked the schedule and looked at her watch and said Yes, it’s seven minutes in.

 Into the movie? she said.
 
 You mean into the previews, right? he said.
 
 No, the movie, the clerk repeated.
 
Seven minutes! More like eight now, she thought. “I don’t want to miss the first seven minutes,” she said. Sometimes the opening minutes are crucial to the whole film. So the clerk refunded their money, and the two of them walked dejectedly back to the car. At least they were able to get the parking ticket validated, they reasoned, so they wouldn’t have to pay for parking.
 
 Back in the car, the question arose for the second or third time that day, what to do now? Go home? It still seemed like a defeat go home, especially now that they felt insult had been added to injury. Give up, admit defeat–that they weren’t meant because of who knew what conspiracy by that first theater–to see a much anticipated movie on this day? There had to be something they could do to make them feel better–get control of their lives again.
Just as they were nearing the shopping strip where the Indian store was, she suggested they stop off to see if they could find some pre-made bhatura bread and frozen unsweetened coconut so they could go home and throw themselves into making a good Indian meal. Maybe some choli with the bhatura bread and some delicious coconut chutney. That would make both of them feel better.
 
There was no bhatura to be had. Maybe next week. Ugh! How many things can go wrong in one day!  Then she saw the fresh okra in the box on the table that held new shipments. It had been pretty much impossible to find fresh okra the whole summer. Not only did they have fresh okra there, it was fairly good okra–the tips still crisp, and the pods mostly small and tender. Fried okra always made her feel good. So she bought a whole lot of it along with the coconut they wanted.
They drove home and she cooked okra for dinner while he went online and paid the department of transportation $105 so he could get it out of his mind once and for all. Afterward, they agreed never to speak of it again. First one, and then the other, would begin to giggle like children who get caught licking the spoon in the candy pot when Mama’s not looking.
 
To this day they still haven’t seen the movie. Now they figure when they do see it, and they still hope to, they will always also associate it with a $105 speeding fine attached to it, thus it will always have the distinction of being the most expensive movie they’ve ever seen. And therein lies the dig. They figure if they wait long enough it’ll come out on DVD and be available at the RedBox rental kiosk where they can pick it up for overnight for just $1, then it’ll only have cost them $106.
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13 thoughts on “short-term memory serves well . . . in some cases

  1. what book was it that you were reading, or might have already read? I’m reading Don Quixote, which is quite funny. (but I’m in the middle of a paper right now, so I’m not reading it at the moment…)

    • The book was MAD GIRLS IN LOVE, and here I thought Don Quixote was all serious and everything. Guess I confused it with MAN OF LA MANCHA, huh?

  2. LOL I’m seriously frugal but I won’t go that far to see *anything*!

    @Vim: I’m glad you like Don Quixote — I was a Spanish major in college and had the delight of reading it en espanol. It’s really funny!!!! Good luck with your paper. Aren’t you a Comp Lit major? That’s what I wanted to do for my M.A./Ph.D. (sigh)

  3. I got a good chuckle from your lead in and also the re-post. You certainly have the knack, Alice. I have such a memory problem these days … I think it is partly due to age but even more than that due to the gobs of medication I now feed my system daily. I have seriously been thinking of trying to revive Grandmahenke.com. This kind of writing propels me farther toward actually doing it instead of thinking of doing it. Thanks!

    • I wish all my critics were as nice as you, Edna. Let me say I think a revival of Grandmahenke.com is a great idea; I’m all for it! 😀

  4. Wonderful story, loved reading it but the real treat was hearing you read it today. The irony of the Yellow Pages under the seat tickled my funny bone.

    • John, you and the girls were a wonderful audience. I think in time you all will help me get my writing groove back. Thanks for taking the time to comment here. It’s a real treat to hear from you.

  5. What a stitch. I especially enjoyed the struggle with the GPS. My husband and I both have graduate level degrees and we are constantly finding ourselves in situations where we feel like we can’t read the alphabet. There is clearly a conspiracy out there to flummox otherwise half-way intelligent people. Of course, all we’d have to do most of the time is ask our 8 year old granddaughter and get the answer.

    • You’re so right, but another problem we keep running into is that the technology is already outdated and done for by the time we figure it all out. Then it’s time to fork over another bankroll and start all over! 🙄

  6. I am not a fan of GPS, I keep a couple of maps in the glove box. Never thought of the yellow pages, must put mine in the car since I never open it in the house.

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