Then, finally, just before it was our turn, everything went sideways. Right on cue. The car to our right that was supposed to go next just sat there, not going and stuff.
All motion stopped. Suddenly we were engulfed in a dead calm. It was surreal. Somewhere a bald eagle screeched. I heard the shake of a rattlesnake’s tail. A chicken clucked. A fly buzzed. A tumbleweed drifted through the intersection.
All heads turned and everyone stared at the idiot. What the hell was going on we collectively wondered.
Then, with a start, the car leaped forward. Like my dad used to say, “Put it in ‘L’ for Lunge.” In a grand elegant arc the car made its left turn and aimed right at me. “Oh my God,” I whispered breathlessly into my crash helmet. “One bogey passing on the left.”
And then I saw it. There, behind the wheel, a woman was driving with one hand, had an abominable phone pressed against her face, and was gesturing wildly with the other.
She was talking on a phone!
My brain quickly calculated the meaning. Why, that’s supposed to be illegal now! This criminal had just ruined the four-way stop dream of perfection for all of us. Veins popped out on my forehead in a full relief map in the shape of Florida. My hands gestured, too, and with every force of my being, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “We’re trying to live in a society here!”
I think it was right around then that I had my epiphany. I’m willing to share it with you now. Obeying the law is for suckers.
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Episode 99, THE GERBIL STRIKES BACK: It is a dark time for Parental Forces. Although The Key to The Nest has been reclaimed, the Rebellion, led by The Gerbil, has continued its onslaught unabated.
Using daytime nocturnalism powers, the Gerbil has established a hidden rebel base to engage Parental units in an ongoing campaign of terror and harassment.
Emboldened by a strange phenomenon known as a “job,” the Gerbil is seeking to stockpile vital supplies of cigarettes, energy drinks and drugs while continuing to avoid all forms of responsibility…
Alrighty, then. Where were we? Oh yes. The gerbil had obtained a job and had even voluntarily chosen to hand over the source of his powers, The Key. (The key to our house.)
First up, the “job.” Yes, through absolutely no effort on the part of the gerbil, he had obtained a job. We had previously tried log sheets where the gerbil was to document his job hunting efforts. After weeks had gone by, the sheet amassed two or three entries of gerbil scrawl with the names of establishments where the gerbil had submitted applications. The entries turned out to be lies, however. Then the gerbil claimed to have emailed applications to a few other jobs. A check of the “sent folder” revealed these were also lies. It seems the gerbil would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to embrace total hedonism and avoid all possible forms of responsibility.
Finally, though, he ended up helping a relative of ours at her place of employment. She took a little pity on him and gave him odd jobs and such out of her own pocket. He was rather rude about this, often not showing up and bothering to call.
Then another other employee at this place of business decided to quit and gave one week notice. They were in a little bit of a bind. Because the gerbil had been hanging around and was already familiar with the operation, the owners gave him a shot. Did he want the job?
Amazingly the gerbil accepted. The job had landed right in his lap to a sufficient degree that the gerbil was willing to give it a try. I guess he figured our anger would know no bounds if he declined. He was right about that.
The first week was iffy and he almost got fired. He was late one day and called in sick on another. Classic. Amazingly, though, to this day, he still has managed to hang onto the job. Inconceivable!
Two things immediately happened. First, the gerbil and our relative decided amongst themselves that our fucking driveway would serve as their personal bus stop. Our relative would pick up the gerbil on the way to work in our driveway. Why in the name of all that’s holy did it have to be our driveway when there is a whole city out there that could serve the same function? I’ll never know!
So every morning now I open the garage door to find our relative’s car in my driveway and blocking my exit. I get to sit and wait while she moves the car so I can go to work. Ever hear of the street? You could park on the curb. I fail to understand why the difference of 15 fucking feet makes a big difference. It just has to be in our driveway. And every day it’s the same routine. Open garage door, she moves her car, I wait. You think it would have dawned on her by now, “Hey. Gee whiz. Park on the street and I won’t have to move the car every time.” Grrrr.
Secondly, every single day this last week, following the return of the key on Sunday, the gerbil has been loitering in our driveway when I return home from work. I open the garage, pull in, then he is in my face. “Can I borrow your phone?” (He has a super fancy phone but never made the payments so it is disconnected.) “Oh, yeah. Can I borrow your mountain bike to get to work?” Like always everything is about what he wants.
His first week after returning the key and we just had five days of gerbil mooching visits. What part of “moving out” don’t you understand?
Lastly, there is one other amusing anecdote to share. The most interesting thing about the gerbil finally landing a job is this – nothing in the physical universe has changed. The gerbil still doesn’t have any money, of course. That would require “not spending” and “saving” acting together in unison. As far as I can tell, the only thing that has changed is that the gerbil now has more energy drinks, more expensive coffee stand drinks, more cigarettes, more alcohol, and (I’m assuming) a lot more drugs. Well whoop-de-frickin-do!
One afternoon this week my wife attempted to engage the gerbil in chit chat. I was not in the room. She wanted to inquire about money and how that was coming along for him. As usual this line of discussion really agitated the little feller. (He owes us about $1,000 by now, money that we desperately need.) I’m told the conversation went a little something like this:
- Mom: So. How are you doing on saving money now that you have a job?
- Gerbil: [angrily] You know I don’t have any money!
- M: Well, I thought with a job you’d …
- G: No! I don’t have any!
- M: Well, where is it all going?
- G: You know I don’t make hardly anything. And every penny I make goes to bills.
- M: So you’ve been working for weeks now and you don’t have any money?
- G: [shrieking] What do you want? Do you want to see me swinging from the end of a fucking rope? Is that what you want? I’ve got nothing!
- M: What? No. God no! Why are you saying things like that?
- G: [angrily stomps out of our house and slams our front door]
I have dubbed this behavior the “proactive conversation blocking technique.” It is a tactic the gerbil employs often. The gerbil knows that nothing freaks out his mother more than dropping vague and angry little suicidal hints. Or, as in this case, not so vague. “Swinging from the end of a rope” is pretty frickin’ clear. So he employs this little tactic and the discussion he finds so uncomfortable is over and he usually follows up with storming out of the house.
I can only hope stuff like this keeps going and going and going and never ends so I’ll always have something to write about. Yeah, that would be good.