Last night was kind of weird. I had adventures and heard entertaining things. I thought it might be fun to share them...
It all started with Zoe. I guess it always starts with Zoe. She and I sat on the back patio after dinner, she eating ice cream and me spending time with her before I went to a play. It was very relaxing and cozy as Zoe goofed around with our two dogs, Molly and Quentin.
Suddenly she turned to me, gesturing over her shoulder with her half-finished ice cream cone. "See that dog?" she said. "That's my dog, Sniffer. He's brown. He died, a long time ago."
I almost choked. "I'm so sorry to hear that," I managed, not knowing what else to say. "How'd that happen?"
And suddenly, slipping into a character reminiscent of the student-soldiers in Red Dawn, she told me a story. There was once a war, you see, and it happened in our back yard. Some people climbed our fence, looking for trouble, and they found it. Sniffer was killed in the war. He was shot through the heart. Zoe, Molly, and Quentin were all shot too.
"They were protecting me," she said, her voice deep and calm, her eyes distant. "But it didn't work. We were all shot in the tummy, and it broke our hearts. They took us to the hospital, and they mostly fixed us, but you know what? We were all left with a sickness from it. I'm still sick today."
At this point, I was blown away, part horrified and also utterly impressed by both her acting and her imagination. I was also suppressing that nervous laughter that plagues me whenever I'm feeling conflicted. So I blurted out, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
She cast her eyes down, and I swear to you they filled with tears. "No," she said, still looking away. "There's nothing you can do. We just have to hope for the best."
The story carried on for another ten minutes, with Zoe remaining fully in character. Finally I had to leave. She switched back into goofy, bubbly Zoe. "Yay," she said. "Now I can go do my homework with dad!"
So then I headed downtown for the play. Ordinarily, I try to park in the street, not really feeling the whole walking-into-a-dark-parking-garage-alone-at-night thing. But last night I couldn't find a spot on the street.
Near the theater was a parking deck that proudly displayed Visa and MasterCard signs, which was ideal since I almost never carry cash. I pulled in, drove up and around and up and around until I finally found a spot on the fourth floor, and then I took the stairs down.
The stairwell spit me out on a random, creepy alley, populated only by a bunch of bloody-looking towels, so I hurried to the theater. Once there, I made plans with my brother to call him after the show - he's on West Coast time right now, so I knew he'd be awake, and it seemed like a good idea to have someone to chat with while navigating the dark alley.
And it was, even though I found a way into the deck without going back through that creepy alley. The show let out a little after ten, and within about five minutes of chatting with my brother I had found my car, right there on the fourth floor.
So I got in and drove around and around and down until I reached the gate. It was unattended, but they had an automated pay system. Unfortunately, beside the automated pay system was a sign. "Cash only," it screamed in blood-red letters. "No cards."
Here's where I turned into a trucker. "Fuck me," I said, and my brother laughed. Poor guy, all he wanted to do was eat his sushi, but there I sat, cursing in his ear.
"This...this fucking thing....oh, gawd, I have to go back up and park. It says there's an ATM in the hotel lobby across the street."
So, still on the phone with my brother (don't lecture me about driving and talking...this was keeping me SAFER, darnit!!) I drove up and around and up and around until I found a parking spot on the third floor this time. A stickler for rules, I refused to park in the closer "reserved for hotel clientele" spots even though I knew I'd only be there for a few minutes.
I marched back down the stairs and across the street, cursing and spewing irritated vitriol the whole way. Luckily my brother knows me well, and didn't seem to mind. I found the ATM. I paid the $4 surcharge to withdraw $40 (just to be safe...$20 didn't feel like quite enough). On the way out I found out my fantasy football quarterback wasn't playing well - yes, I stopped at the bar to ask when I saw the game on the TVs - and so I cursed and spewed some more.
I marched back up the stairs and found my car on the third floor. It was still dark and relatively scary in there, by the way, but by then I was too mad to notice. I got back in the car. I drove down and around, down and around, until I found myself back at the gate.
"Well, what the fuck," I said. There was no way for it to read my little card, to tell me what I owed. Finally I figured out it was just a blanket charge of $7. I grabbed one of my two hard-earned twenties, and I stuck it into the machine.
The machine spat it back out.
I flipped it and stuck it back in.
The machine spat it back out.
"Motherfucker," I said, and I meant it. I started to panic. "I think I have to call the police," I said. "I can't get out of here."
"Try the other twenty," my brother said.
So I did.
And it took it this time! And I wanted to throw a party.
Until I realized..."Oh, shit, Daniel, this thing's gonna give me $13 in those little gold dollar coins. I'm gonna have to carry them everywhere."
He never finished what he was going to say. Because the machine started spitting out my change....in... "Oh...my...god. It's in quarters. Daniel, it's in quarters."
So. In the end I got out of the Parking Garage of Doom, carrying 52 quarters in the cupholder of my car. 52. My pockets will be jingle-jangling for months.
So here's the moral of this story: carry cash. In small bills. And when in doubt, call your brother and it'll turn any mishap into an entertaining adventure.