Monday, September 15, 2008
On Saturday, I drove my car to the store. I bought cigarettes and lottery tickets.
(No, wise guy. That only makes me a moron. It gets worse.)
The lottery tickets I bought are called “Cashword.” As you can see from the reproduction above, there is a graphic of a crossword puzzle, and then a place to scratch off 18 different letters of the alphabet. Whichever of those 18 letters matches a letter in the crossword puzzle, you then scrape off the guaranteed-to-be-found-to-be-a-carcinogen-sometime-in-the-near-future substance covering that letter in the puzzle. If you can complete at least three words in the puzzle, you win a prize. Needless to say, when they give you 18 letters with which to work, it will almost always be the remaining 8 letters you’ll need to complete the requisite words. However, the tickets are pretty, about the size of a small paperback book, and instead of losing your money in 10 seconds, as with a normal lottery ticket, it takes five minutes, so you get entertainment value.
(MY WIFE and I buy these tickets perhaps once a week. We uncover a letter, and then make noises approximating the phonetic sound of the letter for which we are currently searching in the crossword diagram. We sit there in the living room, going “Arrrrrrrrrrr” and “Eeeeeeeeeeeeee” and “Oooooooo” as we scrape the cards with our lucky quarters.
Yes, youngsters. This is what married life comes down to after 16+ years. You sit in your living room making pirate and monkey noises while hoping to win $20,000 on a game designed by the state to suck up the remaining dollars of those residents who had planned on making their fortunes by playing Bingo. After that, you watch House Hunters and go to bed. On some nights, this is what passes for sex in the state of human affairs known as “mature love.”)
Well, after pulling into the garage, I put the car into park and gathered up my purchases from the passenger seat. I had bought enough two-for-the-price-of-one packs of cigarettes to last the week. Along with the oversized lottery tickets, it was an unwieldy load. I couldn’t get a hand free to shut off the car. So, I put the 6 packs of cigarettes and the two oversized lottery tickets back down on the passenger seat. I shut off the car, but didn’t remove the keys fully from the ignition, as leaving them hanging there would make it easier to grab them once I had rearranged the other stuff.
I first gathered up the cigarettes and lottery tickets as best I could, cradling them against my side with my right hand, while using my left hand to open the driver side door. I then hit the automatic lock button with my left hand, while still cradling my purchases with my right. I stepped outside of the car, and then used both hands for the cigarettes and lottery tickets, after which I shut the car door with my right foot.
(Well, yes, of course, you know it. That’s because I told you right in the title that I was an imbecile. If I had entitled this, "I Am An Amazingly Smart Person. Can You Guess Why?" then you wouldn’t have any idea, either.)
Yup. Keys. Still in the ignition. All car doors locked.
Is there any moment in life quite so disheartening as when you realize that you’ve locked your keys in the car? Certainly, finding out you’ve got cancer, or that someone close to you has died, ranks higher on the real tragedy list. But, on the Homer Scale (D’Oh!) there is little to match it. It is an entirely preventable and supremely stupid thing to have done. No rationalization works to erase the shame. Cancer, death, and other hideous moments in life – say, watching a Detroit Lions game - are things that come at you from somewhere outside of yourself. Some universal power (God, or, in the case of a Lions game, FOX) is at work to destroy you. You can live with that (although, if it's death, not literally.) But, when you lock your keys in the car, you have no one to blame but yourself.
What’s even worse is to be standing in your garage, knowing that you’ve locked yourself not only out of your car, but also out of your house, and you’re holding 6 packs of cigarettes and two lottery tickets in your hands. The only way I could have felt any stupider would have been if my pants suddenly fell down around my ankles and Moe jumped out of the bushes to hit me in the face with a custard pie.
Here are the thoughts that ran through my head, in chronological order:
2) Did I leave my lighter in the car? Will I at least be able to smoke the cigarettes?
3) I’ll try all of the doors, just in case the automatic lock didn’t work on all of them.
4) Crap. It worked on all of them.
5) I could scratch the lottery tickets and maybe win enough for a NEW car!
6) Maybe I can force one of the windows down.
7) Repair = $300. That would be really stupid. I’m really stupid, but I’m not that stupid.
8) I could call MY WIFE at work and ask her to come home and let me in the house. That will only cost her a shift at work, and that's less than $300.
9) Nope, that's still really stupid.
At that point, I truly felt like crying. This is because there were all sorts of excellent college football games being played on my TV and I had no way of getting inside to watch them. Really. That was the next thought I had. I knew that, sooner or later, MY WIFE would come home from work. I could get inside the house then. But I wanted to be inside the house NOW.
Of course, if you’ve been coming around here for a while, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve written about something like this. I did fairly much the same thing earlier this year. That time, it was during the dead of winter, so at least this time I wasn’t in danger of having anything freeze off. And, since it was summer...
When I stepped outside of the garage, still clutching the cigarettes and lottery tickets, I saw the air conditioner in the bedroom window. And now, I knew I could get inside and watch some football.
The air conditioner is in a rear window, overhanging a porch. I climbed up onto the porch. I carefully put the cigarettes and lottery tickets down on the porch, pushed up the screen, and then pushed up the window. I grabbed the air conditioner and pulled it out onto the porch with me. I lifted my left leg up, thrusting it through the space recently vacated by the AC, straddled the window frame, and then more-or-less dove through, landing with a thud on my bedroom floor.
At this point, having been relieved of the prospect of sitting outside for 8 hours, smoking cigarettes and waiting for MY WIFE to come home and find out what a dummy I’d been, I got pissed. I reached back through the window, grabbed the air conditioner, and lifted it back into its space. I slammed the window down on top of it, to hold it in place, and reinstalled it with a vengeance. It usually takes ten or fifteen minutes to put in a window unit correctly. I should get this mad every time I want to install an air conditioner. It took me about a minute and a half. It will probably leak all over the floor the next time I turn it on, but it looks good.
I went back outside – by an actual door, which I was very careful to unlock – and retrieved the cigarettes and lottery tickets. And here I am, typing this while Notre Dame kicks Michigan’s ass. As soon as I finish this, I will have a cigarette. The lottery tickets will wait until MY WIFE gets home, at which time we’ll go “Arrrrrrrrrr” and “Eeeeeeeeeeee” and “Oooooooooooo.”
If there’s any justice in this world, we’ll win the $20,000.
(Oh, who am I kidding? If there was truly any justice in the world, I’d scrape off my ticket and it would say, "You’re about as sharp as a hedgehog on thorazine. Give us another ten bucks.")
As an aside to would be burglars: I now realize how simple it is to break into our house. Therefore, I have booby-trapped the air conditioner. I won’t tell you how. That would make me an idiot. Suffice to say, there is nothing in our house worth what will happen to you. Of course, this means that the next time I lock myself out – you and I both know it will happen again – I will forget about the trap and I’ll be the booby. With any luck, maybe that will be next weekend and it will give me fodder for another post. I had no idea what I was going to write about this weekend until this happened.
Soon, with more better stuff.
P.S. We won $2. The lottery tickets cost me $4. All things considered, this is as it should be.