On a rare and magical day last year, my wife Kara got angry, and it wasn’t at me. Oh, it was so beautiful. We had taken three steps away from her black Honda Civic in a small parking lot, when Kara heard the sound of metal hitting metal behind her. She turned and walked back to the passenger side door, where she found a fresh, white and rather cavernous ding.
“Excuse me,” she said to the man who had just gotten into his white pickup truck beside her, “but I think you just put a dent in my door.”
Without leaning over to survey the damage, the man replied, “Oh, I didn’t do that.”
Kara straightened her back. A tumbleweed blew across the parking lot. Somewhere, a harmonica abruptly stopped playing. A wooden clock tower struck high noon. Bystanders hustled indoors.
Kara’s gaze was so intense that I wondered if she was accidentally giving this guy free LASIK surgery. I’d never seen her give that look to anyone else; I thought it was a special look she reserved just for me. For a brief moment, I wondered if I should get jealous.
“There’s a fresh white paint chip on my door. I heard you do it,” she said.
He replied, “Oh, no, I couldn’t have done it. I’m always very careful.”
“Well, you weren’t careful this time,” Kara said.
The man professed his innocence again while putting his truck into reverse. Kara tensed up, and for a second there, I thought she was going to Bo Duke through the guy’s window and beat a confession out of him.
Unfortunately, this happened in real life, which means that, like most real-life stories, the ending is lame. The confrontation ended with Kara doing all she realistically could, which was to put her hands on her hips and pointedly memorize the guy’s license plate (I DING U) as he backed out of his parking spot.
You might be wondering what exactly I was doing during all this commotion. Of course, I had every intention of stepping in to defend the purity of my wife’s car’s passenger side door, but my shoe was untied. By the time I got the double-knot just the way I like it, the guy was already halfway across the parking lot, obviously afraid of what I might do to him after I rectified my footwear issues.
Kara spent the next hour with enough steam coming out of her ears to power a medium-sized municipality through a blistering heat wave. The whole episode, though, was recently put into perspective for us. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that some perspective recently fell out of the sky.
A guy who works with a friend of mine is a Corvette lover. He likes the old-style pointier Corvettes, not the newer ones that are more rounded. After searching around, he found the perfect red ’95 Corvette, a mere three-hour drive from his house. He bought the Corvette and picked it up, driving it back and parking it in his driveway, right next to his blue ’92 Corvette, which he had already sold. The buyer was coming to pick it up on Wednesday. Both of the Corvettes were parked next to his wife’s Cadillac, three in a row.
On that Tuesday night, some college kids had a party down the street. One of the kids had too much to drink, and attempted to drive home by himself. While this kid was too impaired to actually steer the vehicle, his acceleration skills remained completely undiminished. He launched off an embankment, hurtled fifteen feet through the air and landed on all three of the cars in the driveway, instantaneously making them all convertibles.
A short while later, the fire department used a thermal camera to find the kid hiding in the woods nearby, unhurt (yet). If the kid had seen the movie Predator, he’d have known that smearing mud all over your body makes it impossible for aliens and/or firemen to find you that way.