Owls, Dogs, and Hydrocodone

So there I was, checking FaceBook (true story), and I see an update from my friend who did our wedding photos (or more accurately, the photographer we hired for the wedding who has since become like family) that goes a little like this:

I was finishing a delightful walk at the beach with my wonderful friends visiting from France. [Her Rhodesian Ridgeback] was on leash. In the parking lot. A great dane leapt out of its owner’s car and came charging at me growling like a maniac. Kooper was on leash but jumped in front of me to protect me. The great dane kept trying to attack me. The two dogs went at it and I jumped on top of Kooper to control him and i think i broke my ankle. Its five times the normal size. Waiting for X-rays. The owners were too scared of their dog to intervene. Ranger had to grab the other dog. A nurse was there and jumped in and saw my ankle and ordered me straight to ER. They wanted me to take an ambulance but i cant afford that.

"And I usually have such a cute, delicate little ankle... The only part of me I'd ever describe as dainty! Ha! So much for that.... Booooooo. :("

So I immediately left her a message demanding to know her address so I could get her food and prescriptions and ask how the kids were getting home from school (just down the street from me), and warned her that I didn’t want to hear any macho cop bullshit, I was coming over. Oh, she used to be a cop, and a fireman, and I didn’t trust her for a second to stay put.

She (wisely) wrote back with her address and asked me to come get her insurance card and take her car to get her pain meds and gas because it was on fumes. No problem, I said, I’m on it.

I don’t think I’ve ever driven a minivan before. Weird.

At the pharmacy, I said I’m picking up for a friend, and here’s her insurance card, credit card, and here’s my ID, and the guy looks at me and says, “There’s an owl on your shirt.” I can see how this is going to go.

“Yeah, I’ve been trying to get rid of it all day. Look, she wasn’t sure if her insurance was on file..”

“What’s her address?” I told him. “I don’t have that. I’ve got her in a different town.”

“Oh. Well, she used to live there, but moved and is home alone with her kids now and I’m just trying to keep her from running errands with a broken ankle. Do you need to call her?”

“No, no, it’s ok. Huh. There’s a dog on your credit card.”

Here we go.

“Yep, that’s actually how she got hurt; there was a dog fight.”

“Dog fight? Now I’m thinking of football players.”

“No, she would never—she used to be a cop—” He’s openly staring now. “I’m going to stop talking.”

“Can you give me her date of birth?”

I could! I’d scrawled it on my hand before I left her house! So I peered at my hand, turned it a little, read him the date, and then realized how insane I looked while trying to pick up Hydrocodone. “Sorry, I’m a little hyper and mad at her for driving herself to and from the hospital. I took her car. My palm’s sweaty.”

“Is that a bird on your keychain?” I looked down and sure enough, there was a tiny pillow in the shape of a bird attached to her car keys.

“Apparently.”

“So let me get this straight: you’ve got an owl on your shirt, a dog on your card, and a bird on your keychain. I can’t wait to hear what’s on the car.” And then I realize he’s messing with me and is not letting me go until I’m completely discombobulated. He’s just mad he didn’t throw me with the owl crack. “Aha! You blushed.”

“Yes, thank you. You win. I blushed. Can I go now? Because I think we should stop talking.”

And then I couldn’t remember what kind of car she drove.

I stood in the parking lot counting aisles, remembering that I only jogged over one lane so it must be… I’m walking… omfg there’s a minivan with a Rhodesian Ridgeback sticker on the back. Bingo. Off to the gas station, where I poked and prodded at the gas panel but it wouldn’t open. There was no button. No lock. It just sat there. So I climbed back in the car and looked at all the buttons. There’s one for SONAR, but not for the gas cap.

I texted, “How do you open the frigging gas cap??” and waited for like five minutes with no response. I was leaning against the pump with one foot up on the door jamb, wondering what to do and wanting to kick something. And then I looked down. Right next to my foot was a shy little lever with a picture of a gas pump on it. Hallelujah.

Later, the updates were flying:

“You must have looked like quite the doofus…wandering around with pain meds in one hand, a puzzled look on your face and car keys in your other hand…. Bwahahaha!!!!”

“That’s when you press the little alarm button on the key fob and hope you are close enough for it to work.”

“I have empathy. Even more so because I have done that with my own car (doesn’t help that Toyota Sienna minivans are popular where I live).”

And dammit, it WAS a Sienna.

I still didn’t get out of going to Daphne’s science fair. I’d hoped that taking care of Pascale would stir up enough sympathy in my daughter to tell me it was ok not to drive for an hour through rush hour traffic in the rain, over the mountain, to her fair 45 miles away. After all, we’d been living and breathing this project for a while now and it wasn’t as if I didn’t know—”That’s ok, Mom, you can still make it. The fair goes for an hour and a half. You’ll get there for the last few minutes.”

And so I did.

For Sale: Terrifying Commute with Chance of Screaming Plummet to Death

I drove a little ways into the backwoods this morning to look at a house for sale on eleven acres that was just gorgeous in the pictures. I had to prove to myself that it was either totally out of reach price-wise, or not conducive to housing eight people, five of them boys under 13. I tend to do that. If I can just see it and dismiss it, it’s out of my mind. As opposed to letting it gnaw at me with what if’s and creative financing scenarios and delusions of giving the kids land to run around in and play their own version of The Hunger Games.

Just as I sat down to write this, my husband IM’d to say he’s been listening to our wedding music at work (must be a REALLY stressful day). I said, what a coincidence: I was humming it because if I’d tried to plug in my iTunes I would have driven off a mountainside and Pachinkoed my way down 500 feet of redwood trees spaced perfectly for a bouncing car.

“What a deathtrap.” I said, “The drive, not the house. Eleven acres? Awesome! Oh, it’s all sheer cliffs and mountainous forest? Not so much. I actually drove part of the way on a newly paved road that curved AROUND the landslide that isolated that whole part of the valley in last year’s storms.”

“Great, perpetual chance of not going to work or school.”

“We’d wind up eating each other.”

“Plus forest fires in the summer.””I’d have to learn to hunt like Katniss.”

I’m serious, it was only two miles off the main drag, but the road narrowed oh-so-subtly to a single lane with slick, grassy shoulders about three feet wide on either side, just enough to squeeze over for a car careening by going the other way without knocking each other’s side mirrors off. And you’d better hope that you’re on the downhill side, because that uphill side has a terrifying view of the gorge hundreds of feet below the road. I don’t even know how I got up that high. I must have been concentrating on the grassy shoulders and watching for falling trees. But they said there was room for horses, or a vineyard, so it had to get better, am I right?

The house itself was really beautiful, but constructed of octagons connected by hallways. Each octagon was divided into several rooms such that no bedroom had a wall long enough for a bed AND a dresser. I suppose we could weave baskets from the reedy hillsides and store our shit there.

And what about the horses? Apparently, they would have to graze single file on the shoulders, and back up when it’s time to bed down in the octagonal barn.

Of course, there was an absolutely to-die-for-feature that almost made me not care where anyone else slept, because in the master bath, there was a ROCK SHOWER. WITH A VIEW FOR KINGS. It was so totally Game of Thrones that I stood there long enough to make the realtor nervous.

So, having turned that buzzing little mind gnat off with a slap, I rolled my way back down to civilization and got a good look at the neighbors. I may have heard banjos. I know I passed at least one commune, with a rainbow-painted propane tank that would house a family of five. And probably did. No joke, they had erected their own street sign: “Love Street.”

I think we’ll stay in our planned development five feet from the freeway where I can safely do donuts in the intersections.