Friday, July 1, 2011

Schadenfreude Tastes Better Fresh

Once in a while you meet someone who leaves you wondering. 
          I wonder -- do they know how much baggage they’re dragging? I wonder -- did they pack up all that crap by themselves or did they have help from Mom and Dad?
          Tonight, with my car on the fritz, I got a ride to rehearsal with a new member of our barbershop chorus who lives in my town. Even though I’ve seen her at our practices for the last couple of months, I’ve never spent any quality time with her, because we sing different parts.  
          Since, unlike me, she isn't prone to making class clown remarks between songs, I had no clue whether she was funny or smart or even the least bit interesting. But I found out what she was pretty quick.
          About a minute after she picked me up, my mobile started ringing. After fishing around in the bottom of my purse trying to find some reading glasses, I just asked if she would mind reading the name on the caller ID. I wanted to screen the call. Okay, I wanted her to screen the call for me.
          Holy crap! You would have thought I asked her to cut off her left nipple and wear it as a nose warmer. Not only did she adamantly refuse to look at the caller ID, but, she proceeded to lecture me about using a cell phone while driving, with a side order on the evils of texting.
          So I took that as a NO. Just to be sure I thoroughly understood her position, she reiterated her take no prisoners stand. “Sorry, but I can’t help you out. I’m driving.”
          Naturally, I was a little taken aback by her vehement refusal to help. In fact, I’ll even suggest that she had overreacted just a tad.
          Since we were STOPPED AT A STOPLIGHT.  
          That was the first piece of baggage -- a little Samsonite overnight carry-on.
          Which begged the question -- what life experience had turned her into such an obnoxious, anal-retentive bossy pants?
          Before I had time to conjure up a theory, she had already volunteered that her parents were divorced fifteen years ago and her dad was a jerk. The good news? He was dead. Stopping briefly to take a breath, she told me her earliest memory as a child was her first birthday. She remembered that she was worried the burning horsey candles on the cake would start a fire as her parents were screaming at each other in the background.
          Okay then.
          I wonder how much more luggage she’s got on board? Our singing practice passed uneventfully. She’s a lead and I’m a bass, so we don’t sit anywhere near one another. But on the ride back, the baggage began to pile up again.         
          This time she was packing a couple of those Hammacher Schlemmer microfiber bags with all the zippers and pockets. We had gone only a couple of blocks when they arrived.
          A storm cell had been making its way along the lake. As we left rehearsal, the skies began to unleash wave after wave of pounding rain, but luckily, not until we were safely inside her car.
          I wasn’t particularly concerned, since most cars come equipped with windshield wipers to insure visibility. So I was unfurling a bunch of snappy patter about how the practice went, when she suddenly raised her voice and told me to stop talking.
          "Please don't talk."
          Apparently she can’t walk and chew gum. Holding a conversation while driving in the rain is too difficult for her. The effort requires too much concentration, so while she tried to soften her request with a “Don’t take this the wrong way”, clearly my job was to keep quiet until further notice.
          That little episode filled up most of a North Face dufflebag, which I just threw into the back with the rest of the luggage.
          The rain was gone almost as soon as it started. So I ventured to ask if it was safe to talk again. I smiled when I said it, but there was enough sarcasm to launch her on a defense of driving safety, which I tuned out and cannot share because I just don’t give a shit.
          I was still trying to think of some small talk when she volunteered a story about how her pet hamster [she's allergic to everything else] escaped from its cage on the same day her husband’s grandmother died. Which segued into how he left his suit for the funeral in their closet at home, so she had to find her 6’3” hubba bubba something to wear down in Buttf**k, Indiana. SHE had to handle it, because HE was too stupid to find a pair of slacks, a sweater, and a tie that matched by himself. 
          My only thought was, “You’re married?” 
          Even though she grew up in my town, I had the nerve to suggest the fastest way to get to my house. She ignored my suggestion and took a route I avoid at any cost. Why? Because there is a railroad crossing that attracts slow freight trains like wasps on watermelon. I decided not to say anything in case this would be the one time I was wrong.
          Oh look, here comes a freight train. That was fifteen minutes of painful silence I never want to spend again.
          How bad was this going to get I wondered, shoving a hatbox and a makeup case into the trunk. 
          Turning left onto my quiet, traffic-free street, we were only four homes from the safety of my house. In anticipation of my impending escape, I did something I rarely do – removed my seatbelt in preparation for getting out of the car in thirty feet.
         “The car is still moving, you shouldn’t take your seatbelt off!” she shrieked. At 10 MPH, was she planning to drive onto the parkway and slam into a tree?
         I didn’t say anything because I was thinking, “The bitch is insane.”
        At this point in my tale, I must stop to say that what follows next is the best example of schadenfreude I have ever experienced. [Schadenfreude, for the uninitiated, is the uniquely German word for the pleasure one gets from the misfortunes of others, one of my many human failings. However, here I choose to embrace it without apology.]
        Meanwhile, let me set the scene for the final act of this car ride from Hell. And the matching bags that came with it.
        My neighbor, Viktor, a certified a**hole who lives across the street, insists on parking his hemi-Dodge pick up directly across from my driveway. Basically I’m at risk of playing bumper cars every time I back out. He has parked this way for the last three years, even though he has a driveway big enough to accommodate six cars. Meanwhile, he is well aware -- because my neighbors have pointed this out to him -- that it would be more thoughtful to park his car somewhere else.
         But there it was, the big black Dodge Testosterona-mobile, taking up half the street and positioned perfectly within the designated target range, directly across from my driveway.
         Just before pulling up in front of my house, I told my ride that she didn’t have to turn into the driveway. She could just drop me at the curb, since the street she lived on was only a block ahead. But no, she turned into my driveway so she could back out and go the exact opposite direction. I have no idea why she wanted to do that, except that I had suggested doing something else.
          I am sure you know what happened next. So let me confirm it.
          First I jumped out of her car, said "Thanks for the ride," and ran into my house.
          Did I know what was going to happen next? I’m not sure. Did it cross my mind? Yes. But ever so briefly, since my subsequent thought was, "No, that couldn't possibly happen."
          I wasn’t inside the house more than five seconds when there was a thump/crunch outside and the loudest car alarm I have ever heard began screaming into the night.
          Instead of turning on the lights and running outside like a caring, concerned person, I peeked out through the shutters from the privacy of my darkened kitchen and prayed she wouldn't ring my doorbell. Yep, she’d slammed into the truck backing out. And there was Viktor racing out of his house. 
          Honestly, this moment couldn’t have happened to two more deserving people.
          Just a personal observation, but I think if the alarm hadn’t been set off, she would have tried to make an escape, since her car was stopped way down the block.
          They both surveyed the damage [it didn't look like much from my vantage point], went into Viktor’s house to exchange information, and she was on her way within five minutes. Dragging a 65-piece set of monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage behind her.  
          One of Karma's finest hours. 


IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...


Mrs. L said...

The good news is that Viktor is parking his car in his driveway now. We'll see how long this lasts.

Debby said...

Our neighbor considers himself quite a man about town. A big shot. He and his wife are gossips and rude. We avoid them at all costs, haven't spoken to them for years, yet still, they have lots of reasons to gossip and complain about us.

One of the things that I hate is that they let their dog lose, and think it quite funny when he shits in our yard. Their last dog was hit by a car in front of our house.

Last week, I heard a thud and a yell. I went outside thinking that some miscreant had bashed our mailbox with a ball bat (kids do this sometimes for entertainment. Yep. We live in the woods...) Anyhow, an elderly man came storming up our driveway. His vintage, mint condition Corvette was damaged. Their dog ran out in the road, square into the side of the 1959 'Vette, splintering his fender and tearing some chrome off.

Funny thing? A man who drives a car like that in our part of the world is a big shot. An important person. The very people our neighbors pride themselves on rubbing shoulders with.


Oh. and lest you think that I'm heartless, the dog is fine. He was crapping in my yard just a couple days ago.

Mrs. L said...

Glad to hear the dog's pooping hasn't been interrupted.