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"We're okay and the car is drivable, but we were in an accident."

For once, I wasn't driving. For the third time since I've owned this car, it came away damaged. For the third time, it wasn't my fault. When I hit something, I make positive-sure it's inanimate.

Burger King! Nothing bad can possibly happen at a Burger King! Except for when you look both ways, make the right hand turn, and slam! I felt it but I didn't see it, the back of the car, the left-back side of the car.

"What was that, what was that?" I say to Josh, who was already pulling over and making darkly angry but fully polite gesturing motions to someone behind us to pull into the turn lane.

The dent on the front bumper from six months ago where the deer (a deer!) had rammed into the driver's side hadn't been touched. We couldn't afford the deductible or the out-of-pocket. We still can't. I fumbled around for our the thin little slip of paper, the insurance information. Florida policy, expired... Virginia... there.

"We're okay and the car is drivable, but we were in an accident."

"It's okay," says Josh. "The other driver made an unsafe lane change. She's at fault. She sideswiped us. Her company will cover."

I do not look over my shoulder as he pulled off his seat belt to converse with the driver in the car behind us. I don't even look in the rearview mirror. Somehow, if that car remained driverless, a friendly Herbie type of robocar, there remains some chance that any and all unpleasantness will be avoided, forever.

"Where did you come from?" Josh says. "I looked. You weren't there."

Seventeen year old on a cell phone, driving Mommy's Saturn on the first weekday of summer vacation. "I was in the lane," she says stoutly.

Josh calls the sheriff's office to file an accident report. The insurance adjuster will want it with the claim, the claim from the at-fault driver's company that will pay to fix my car. We sit and wait.

"The pattern of the damage is all on the back left hand side," he says. "And he'll take one look at my license, see I'm a CDL. He'll know I wouldn't do anything stupid like pull out in front of anybody."

"White Toyota Corolla," I say on the phone to our insurance agency. "No, we're fine."

"We're okay and the car is drivable, but we were in an accident."

The sheriff pulls up, occasional honkings of the lunch rush flying past. License and registration. Josh pulls out his wallet. Regist-- glove compartment, in here somewhere... what did it look like?

"What happened?" says the sheriff.

"She claims she was in the lane," Josh tells him, "but I would dispute that." And then shuts up. I burn holes in my dashboard with my lowered eyes, the glare of amazement. "I would dispute that?" He's going passive-voice on this? Tell him more, yell it, tell him about the crash to the back, tell him that you're a twenty-seven-year old who has a second job delivering pizza and the fact that we can meet the mortgage depends on the fact that you don't make a practice of screeching into the right-hand lane of a six-lane road without, you know, looking first. But he still remembers the second the brakes failed on a delivery truck he once drove, how the lawyers called, how he gave his only work break over to depositions.

There's a hubcap gone-- two now; the first one left this world with the deer. Angry gray scrapes on the side, tire marks on the bumper, crumpled metal runners. My car, my bridal getaway car, the first car I was able to put in my own name, is a redneckmobile.

The Saturn is missing a mirror.

The sheriff returns to lean into the driver-side window as I hang up from the first phone call of many informing various people that we're okay and the car is drivable, but we were in an accident.

"Well," he says, "without witnesses, I won't ticket anyone, but if I were going to issue a citation, it would be to you." He does not say, "You may now express your gratitude." But might as well.

I stare very hard, very hard out my own window, twisting my neck away, to avoid looking at him as he issues this almighty verdict, seeing my husband rigid with the utter wrongness of this thing. Car wash, tossing trees. Nursing home down the road.

Josh, in lieu of demanding an explanation, says something in even tones about damage patterns. The sheriff responds that he has reached his decision based on the fact that, quote, "the way they built this road is stupid." He's going on leave for ten days, so if we have any questions, leave a message, 'kay? Take care.

We sit for about five silent seconds, then Josh starts the car and we ease back into traffic.

"We're okay and the car is drivable, but we were in an accident."

"It could have been a lot worse."

"At least you won't have any points on your license."

"At least the car still works."

"At least we're okay."

"I hope her daddy's not a lawyer."

"The important thing is nobody was hurt."

"Are you aching anywhere?"


"We'll take the car to a body shop when we can afford it."

"So basically... never."

Back home, Josh backs into a parking space and inspects the damage again, some more, until I am ready to throw...something...somewhere. I can't look at it, the crumpled silver lining, the bare wheels. The insurance company, our insurance company, calls with the announcement that since ours was the car pulling into traffic, our policy will pay the damage on the Saturn. Rate hikes to be determined later.

It's two o'clock in the afternoon, and I lay down on the bed still with my purse over my arm, because even though we're okay, and the car is drivable, we've been in an accident.

bright side at:


Free Concert

Louisville is a surprisingly happening town, and I was forever too exhausted by the Great Stack to happen with it. Oh, but I was fully able to enjoy the Belle of Louisville and all its calliopeness.

As children of the Ohio River, Julie The Nephews Mama and I were onboard the Belle as a little accountant and little obsessive-compulsive writer, and I brought home a little captain's hat, and so the Belle and I have always gotten along reasonably well. I ain't got no riverboat hate. Then she had to go and piss me right off.

My roommate and I were initially charmed when the Belle, parked on the Ohio directly beneath our window, struck up her calliope. We stood at the window and watched the steam rise from the pipes, wondering how one got to be a calliope player on a steamboat: Do you major in it? Is there a body of serious calliope literature? How, exactly, do you practice without the entire river knowing about it?

The calliope wound down, and we all basked in the glory of it, and lay down on our beds for some hugely needed Great Stack-related recovery, recovery that can only come from utter unconsciousness. "Wasn't that nice to experience?" we said to one another. "Aren't we lucky to have a hotel room facing the river!"

The calliope agreed, and struck up a a Disney medley. We returned to the window. To draw the heavy curtains in a vain attempt to drown out the charmingness. It was done when we returned to bed, but no! Time for "The Entertainer!"

Meghan announced that the baby was kicking terribly, probably because, in his super-intelligent fetus state, he was well aware that "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" was on the horizon.

Every time the music faded, we'd have two minutes of utter silence, during which we said to one another, "Well, it wasn't that bad," and think it was done, and then rrrrtahhhhh!, the thing would start up again. Such was the evil of the calliope: Just when you thought you were safe, it jabbed you in the back of the neck with its old timey-ness and freakin' JOY.

The only resource was to call every single person I knew to complain, since I couldn't very well trot down to the landing and ask the the captain, all, "Yeah, can you turn your calliope down a little bit?"

It didn't help.

steam powered at:



I am staying at the best hotel in the WOOOOOOORRRRRLLLLLD as I work through the Great Stack.

First, you should understand that I have not one roommate, but two; the woman assigned to my room is seven months pregnant.  She is a people person, which is actually good, because otherwise after eight hours of "This play is about Hamlet and his girlfriend, Othello" I would otherwise squinch up in a very small ball indeed for about fourteen hours.

We went to the pool the other night, which I normally do not enjoy, because there are certain issues of cellulite and my extreme dislike of displaying it.  So I backed out of the water as I finished my swim, lower-body wrap immediately in place, and I was, I was-- are you ready?--I was hit on by the lifeguard, who was not one second over eighteen.

Here's his line, okay: "I hope the water is cool.  I wish they'd let us take our shirts off when we work."

I didn't quite know what to say to that, other than, "Please do not look at my butt," so I was all, "...That... sucks?"  Because I was out of practice where that sort of thing is concerned, and was ringless for the swim, and also pretty much do not care, particularly, about being picked up these days.

This made me feel very lovely about myself, and I strutted back down the pool to my pregnant roommate.  "I saw that," she said.  And I turned around to put my sandals on, and I also saw... the lifeguard engaged in equally intent conversation with the sixty-year-old man whose beer belly was squished up against the pool ladder.

Maybe he strutted, too.

take it when you can get it at:



I'm reading TONITE, TONITE, TONITE here in the presence of the Great Stack. Details be here.

I will tell you more about the Great Stack very soon-- the second I regain my will to live.  It's tougher this year.  I don't know if it's because I'm married or older or pissier or ovulating or what.  At the moment, however, there is naught but mangled thesis statements and such solemn pronouncements as, "In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen created the world's most famous heroin."

one line at a time at:


Belmont Hangover

Saturday, June 7, 2008: The Day of Former Absolutely Sure Things.

This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Clinton, and it will soon see the end of Big Brown in a starting gate.

Enjoy the breeding shed, colt colt baby.

another year, another almost-there at: