Yesterday, I was talking to someone at school about people wearing their pajamas when driving their kids to school and was reminded of an experience I had back when Ben was in middle school at Bode. I worked at home back then and must admit that I frequently drove him to school while still in my Pj’s.
On this particular morning I was splendidly attired in an old torn nightshirt. Fortunately, at the last minute I decided to add a pair of sweatpants to my ensemble because it was fall and kind of cold outside. They were horrible looking but would keep my legs warm and Hey, who was going to see me right? Those of you who know me might be able to see where this is going already.
After dropping Ben off I pulled out of the Bode parking lot and was making my way back up Noyes towards home and right about the time I was driving past the Noyes Home for Children I pushed the clutch in to shift gears and the clutch pedal went all the way to the floor. I knew what had happened…the clutch cable had snapped. Of course, as luck would have it, in that exact instant when the cable broke in half, the gear shift had been in between gears and was now stuck everlastingly in neutral which meant that now my car could not drive anywhere. The clutch cable could have broken when it was in gear…any gear and I probably could have at least gotten home, but oh no, the Gods of all things automotive could not let that be for I am Shawn, Queen of Misadventure and must be humiliated whenever the opportunity presents itself and this one was just too good to let pass.
I sat in my car for a few minutes brooding over my rotten luck. I hadn’t bothered with bringing my purse (I wasn’t going that far right? What could possibly happen?) Cell phones were not ever present like they are now, so I didn’t have that with me either. I was going to have to walk home. I took a deep breath thinking I might as well get it over with and stepped out into the brisk fall air wearing my Garfield nightshirt and horrible sweat pants with a huge gaping hole in the crotch, and loafers, brown ones with no socks. I started walking, all the while praying to the God of everything holy that if I kept my head down none of the other mothers dropping off their kids would recognize me as they sped away in their giant four wheel drive assault vehicles. I envisioned in my mind one of them recognizing me, stopping their luxury-wagon in the middle of Noyes Boulevard and rolling down their window to inquire as to if I needed a ride somewhere.
I would prefer being mistaken for a homeless vagrant and carted off to the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter rather than be forced to accept a ride home in an Escalade with perfectly groomed Soccer Mom whom I’m sure, in addition to wearing glittery 5-inch designer heels with her Juicy Couture jogging suit, also packs her kids organic gluten-free lunches in sustainable yuppie hemp lunch bags. I could not bear the thought of her pitiful gaze looking down at me through her hipster glasses as she leaned out the window of her SUV to offer assistance. I swiped my hair over my face and remember thinking to myself that this would be a really good time to have a hoodie or a hat or some other disguise. I walked as fast as I could in my moccasin/loafers toward home.
From the look of me that morning, the possibility of being picked up as a drifter or someone who perhaps wandered off from the nearby State Hospital was strong…no purse, no identification, hanging out in front of an orphanage across the street from a junior high school. I’m lucky I wasn’t mistaken for a crazy stalker by a passing officer of the law. I continued walking along in my escaped mental patient costume.
As I neared home, a couple of neighbors driving by spotted me and honked, waving ‘Good Morning’ to me as they passed. They did not seem alarmed at all. No one stopped to offer me a ride. Having known me for many years now, I’m sure they thought I was just out for a morning stroll. Seeing me walk down the street wearing a cartoon nightshirt and sweatpants at 7:00 in the morning would not seem unusual for me at all. I smiled and waved back. The original feeling of horror and panic was wearing off as I got closer to my neighborhood and I actually began to enjoy my walk on this beautiful autumn morning.
By the time I got to my front door I had all but forgotten about the whole incident until being reminded of it again today. Thanks Melissa Kissler and Kristen Cox for the reminder that I need to write these things down so future generations will know what kind of stock they come from. Maybe it will help them to know it’s encoded into their DNA and there’s really no amount of therapy that’s going to help. Acceptance of reality…the key to serenity. Glad I could help.