A CARcapade! A cake in the closet, swearing on a book of fiction, and checking in at home…

~Thursday~ Carcapade: This morning I drove to work, because I needed my car to run an errand during lunch. At 8:50, I parked in a two-hour parking spot, knowing full well I wouldn’t be back to my car for close to three hours. I was relying on two things—one sensible, the other nonsense—to get me through without a ticket:

  1. It’s summer session at the university, so the spaces aren’t as in demand as they are during the fall and spring. That, together with the state budget shortfall, surely (“Don’t call me Shirley!”) they have fewer cops or metermaids (Is that politically incorrect now? Should it be meterwaitpeople?) on patrol.
  2. My good karma of bringing in a cake for my boss’s birthday today will cancel out the forces that might try to ticket me.

I’ll let you decide which of these is sensible as opposed to nonsense, as it may be a matter of perspective.

This morning, we had our monthly meeting of all of the departments who report to my boss’s boss, which is held in a building across the street from the building in which we work, as we don’t have a conference room big enough for the 25 or so folks that attend this meeting.

I headed over a little early with the sheet cake I’d brought in for my boss, Jude, which we were going to present to her at the end of the meeting. I put it in a closet to hide it from her during the meeting.

I always feel bad putting anything into a closet, as it’s just a dreadful, dreadful place. (I should know. I was in one for 35 years.) I thought about saying at the end of the meeting, “Jude, your cake wants to come out of the closet. It’s a gay cake!” but I didn’t think the group was quite ready for that.

As it turned out, we ran out of time, so I just took it out at the end of the meeting saying to the group, “Jude thought she was going to be away next week on her birthday and avoid celebrating it with us, but we have a cake for her today. I’ll set it out back in the area around her office. Please come by and wish her a happy birthday and enjoy a piece of cake.” This turn of events had the side benefit of precluding a group singing of Happy Birthday, which is often atrocious.

I got to my car at about 11:45, thrilled to find no ticket on it. On the drive to the lawyer’s office, I had on NPR—the Diane Rehm show to be exact (which is a whole other thing, which I’ve blogged about in the past)—and her show was about the effects of growing up in a fatherless household.

This turned into one of those “NPR Driveway Moments,” as I stayed in the car to hear as much of it as I could since I’d arrived ten minutes before my noon appointment. The more her main guest talked, the more his voice sounded familiar, and then all of a sudden he mentioned, “Uncle Abie!” Quintessential synchronicity. Of course, he was the author, Lennard J. Davis, of both the book and the This American Life podcast of the same name—Go Ask Your Father—that I’d listened to on Monday!

Inside I met Brenda, my lawyer, and we executed—not by guillotine, by firing squad or by hanging, but with a good old-fashioned ballpoint pen—my new will, living will, health care power-of-attorney and financial power-of-attorney.

They made me put my hand on a bible to swear in front of two witnesses that I was there of my own free will and that I was of sound mind, the latter of which, quite frankly, only people who don’t know me would confirm.

Ironically, what I wasn’t doing there of my own free will was putting my hand on that bible. I half expected it to sizzle when I did, or at a minimum, leave a burning ring of fire in the palm of my hand. I resisted asking, “Do you have something in nonfiction instead?”

What I did say after acquiescing and completing the oath was, “What about Muslim people? Do you make them swear on this thing, too?” The lawyer responded that just recently NC law has been passed that allows the swearing on a Koran, adding, “Guess I’d better get out and buy one.” Good idea, I thought.

One other thing that I heard during that NPR story about growing up fatherless, and it was in the context of confronting—or forgiving—your absent father, was by someone who had gotten past his anger. He said that he was finally able to accept his father with all of his flaws once he, himself, decided to do this: “Choose being loving over being right.” I think that’s a compelling goal to strive for in all of our relationships.

One of our system news items today started off with this sentence: “On June 23rd we will be moving the dongle server to the new power system.” Not the dongle server!!! Sounds so dirty.

At our afternoon department/team meeting, Rhonda and I presented Jude with a birthday card that she just loved. Later in the afternoon, she sent us this e-mail:

Subject: Thank you!

John and Rhonda,

Thank you so much for your birthday wishes, the cake and the card. Most especially the card: I love this card and the thoughts it conveys. As you write, John, “all personal connections have meaning”—I feel very lucky to have connections with both of you, and if the meaning is sharing laughter, what could be better?”


This evening, I checked in with home, where I found mom out to bingo and dad just getting into bed (at around 8:00). He sounded in pretty good spirits, though he did say, “Yeah, they decided I didn’t need the surgery for my gallstones, and they think that maybe I have a cyst on my kidneys.”

I talked to my sister after that and she said, “I hope that ‘cyst’ isn’t really a tumor.”

I took a 1.5-hour nap thinking I might go out to Trailer Park Prize Night at Flex at 11:00, but not surprisingly, the nap happened, but the night out afterwards didn’t.

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