Saturday, March 2, 2013

Old Boyfriend Sighting

Time to sit around the Old Boyfriend Campfire and fire up a yarn.
          I got a flat tire on the way home from a downtown meeting last week. After pulling over to the shoulder, I began to contemplate next steps, when a Minuteman pulled up behind me. Part of IDOT's service [Ill. Dept. of Transportation] is having Minutemen roaming the highways in ginormous rescue trucks, especially during high traffic hours. [No, this young guy wasn't the old boyfriend.] My handsome highwayman would have happily changed my tire for free and sent me on my way, except, ack, I was already driving on my spare. So he followed me as I thump-bump-thump-de-bumped to the next exit, and limped into a random CARx [WE SELL TIRES!!!!]. 
          On a 4x4 truck like mine -- i.e., a Ford Explorer -- the loss of one tire can mean you have to replace all of them. Something about the drive train exploding, whatever. I've been told this many times before, but I hated the idea of replacing every tire, when only one was flat. $150 versus $600 -- I did the math. And ignored the issue. Now push had finally came to shove.
          Based on how bald the other tires were, never mind the drive train, I agreed it was time to replace them all. But on another day. So I returned a couple of days ago to do the rest of the swap. 
          Also, after putting off another fix I had needed for more than FOUR years, I decided to replace the ball joints on my front end, too. How bad were they? The manager showed me how the ball was almost completely separated from the joint. This close to failure. Things were so loose that my front tires were canted at an angle as I drove, like a racing vehicle. You mean that's not normal? Things were so loose, I could see the front tires had several inches of play when the car was up on the lift. To his credit, the CARx manager never used the word death. He only said, "This could be a safety issue pretty soon." No shit. 
          I went into the waiting room to kill two hours, looking forward to reading their extensive collection of Time and People Magazines. And there he was, an old boyfriend!!! Here, at the random CARx I had patronized by accident. Cosmic!! What were the odds? 
          How long had it been since I last saw him? We had first met and dated in college -- 50 years ago. He was an upperclassman, played football, and belonged to one of the cool frat houses. I was fresh meat, I mean a freshman. He let me idolize him and type his term papers. Thanks to another coed who put out way more than I did, things did not end well. 
          We tried to hook up once again twenty years later, after meeting by chance on the street [see a pattern here?], following our respective divorces. By that time, without realizing it, the passage of time and my life experiences had conspired to make me a feminist. However, his notions of all things male and female remained fossilized and old school -- you know, dump your plans with girlfriends to go on a date with him. He also made the mistake of telling me what to wear. ONCE. It ended for good when he called to tell me to hire a housekeeper for his son, since that was a job for a woman to do.
          We have a mutual college friend, Don. He introduced us. Over the years I have called Don to catch up. Only to learn later that my old boyfriend had called to catch up with Don on that very same day, too. Also cosmic. 
          Just a few weeks ago I talked to Don for the first time in over four years. After we connected, part of me was wondering if that meant my old boyfriend would make an appearance anytime soon. Actually, I was wondering HOW we would run into each other.
          And here we were in the random CARx. He didn't recognize me after more than twenty years, so there was no need for what I did next. But I went and did it anyway. I said his name. He looked at me, puzzled. I said my name. Slowly you could see a flicker of recognition cross his face. I could see he was having his own cosmic moment. 
          He looks pretty much the same. Only 50 years older. I have changed a lot. We did the usual old flame chit chat, how're the kids, you talk to Don lately, been to any reunions? Sadly, when he was ready to leave, he asked me for my phone number. That's so old school. Flatter a former girlfriend, even though you didn't recognize her, by asking for her number. I gave it to him. What was I going to say, "Oh please, let's not kid ourselves?" Okay, I guess I could have. But I didn't. He immediately called my phone so I would have his number in return. My phone was on vibrate so he thought I didn't have it with me. I liked that. It meant I could ignore his calls, should there be any, and he would accept my excuse.  
          The good news is that I am sure I won't hear from him. That's also old school. Plus it'll probably be another twenty years before I will run into him again. 
          And by that time, the chances are good we'll both be dead.     


Jon said...

Your flat tire resulted in a pleasant escapade. You were rescued by a handsome highwayman and ran into (not literally) an old boyfriend.

The last time I had a flat tire it was 105 degrees and I changed it myself on the side of the highway while BIG trucks zoomed by and deliberately aimed at me.

There are definite advantages to being a woman....

Mrs. L said...

Jon -- I don't know whether it was an advantage to not be taught how to change a tire, when I was growing up -- because I was a girl. The nice thing is that the Minutemen will change anybody's tire -- even yours.