“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Blanche, A Streetcar Named Desire
My lovely and talented wife Pam used to ride horses in her youth. And while she may have had fun back then, her luck with rides didn’t extend from four legs to four wheels. If our vehicle is going to run out of gas, suffer a flat tire, get a chipped windshield, have the battery die, or just inexplicably turn off, poor Pam is always the one at the wheel.
The horse whisperer has turned into the car screamer.
The other day while Pam was stopped in the pouring rain at a busy Collingwood intersection, the car just shut down, wouldn’t restart, and a strange smell filled the air. Who does she call first? Cousin Louie, of course.
Cousin Louie is our “go to guy” for pretty much everything in life. Home and auto repairs, appliances, furniture, clothes, cigars, sporting goods, weather forecasts, travel tips, career questions, mid life crises, meaning of life answers. Louie pretty much knows it all, he’s at the top of the mountain.
Of course, Pam wouldn’t call me first. What could I possibly do to help? It’s well established that I come from a long line of completely useless men. Anyways, even if she did call me, I’d just tell her to call my cousin instead.
Pam and I didn’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement when we got married, but if we did, the first sentence would have been, “Both parties hereby agree that Cousin Louie must be consulted on virtually every life decision we make.”
So, at that Collingwood intersection, Louie tells Pam that the problem is concerning, she better call a tow truck. Our car manufacturer has its own self-heralded Roadside Assist program. However, every time Pam calls, it’s a disaster. Dropped calls, poor customer service, hours of waiting time. We think its real name is Roadside Torture, but something got lost in translation from German to English.
When she finally made it back home, Pam relayed the details of the day to our daughter and me.
“Everyone was so awesome. While I was waiting for the tow, with my hazards on, a good-looking guy in a pick-up truck across the street stopped and asked if I needed help. I said no, thank you, I was fine.”
Good-looking guy? I raised one eyebrow and looked at our daughter.
“Then, another car pulls in behind me, and a nice-looking older man gets out and offers to try to give the car a boost.”
Nice-looking older man? Two raised eyebrows from me and a look of concern on our daughter’s face.
“And, during the whole time I was waiting, a woman kept coming out of her house, checking to see if I needed anything and offering to let me wait inside with her.”
Phew, finally a woman. What did she look like?
“She was very nice, but I don’t really remember what she looked like.”
You don’t remember? Our daughter can’t bare to make eye contact with me.
“Anyways, then a police car pulls up, and this really hot looking young cop comes out and says he will wait behind my car until the tow truck comes.”
Hot looking young cop? Our daughter has her face buried deep into her laptop by this point, but I can see my grey hair and tired eyes in the reflection from her screen.
“And when the tow truck finally arrived, the driver was such a sweet man, and he offered to drop me off at home on the way to taking the car to the dealership. He was one of those classic, old fashioned, rugged, capable men.”
Rugged and capable? Oh really?
My mind is racing and I’m trying to think of the right thing to say, something about how all this genuine kindness from nice Collingwood people restored our faith in humanity during these trying times. Instead, all that I mange to blurt out is, “oh yeah, well, I think Cousin Louie is better looking than all those guys put together!”
Pam gives me that sweet, surprised, “oh, you’re jealous” look, and my daughter texts me one of those embarrassed “hand to face” emojis.
Whatever. I know in my heart that I made my long line of useless male ancestors proud.