I took my kid to a concert, it was their first. The city in which it was held was a bit larger than the one in which we live, so my kid was rather overwhelmed even though they thought the skyline with its tall buildings was really pretty. We miraculously found a public parking building that was not only in the same county as the place where we were headed, but even on the same street, even the same block. This is luck beyond measure for me. I’ve turned around and left after a two hour drive just from the parking being shit. I hate crowds, I hate fighting to find a parking spot. I tend to be of the belief that if you want to plan a venue in which you want many people to come, you better fucking well figure out a parking situation that makes everyone happy, not crazy. I left because I was itching to punch someone. I hate to admit it, but this has been a big factor in my lack of participation in the bigger comic con’s, because I truly do want to go.
As we were walking to the arena, we were stopped by a couple vagrants/bums/home-challenged. Now my kid has been diligently trained about the various things to do if approached by a stranger, but these guys… really they just seemed to just want to be acknowledged. So I chatted with them as I walked, they made a couple sweet observations about my kid and I, nothing even remotely offensive. I smiled and waved as we go to a crossing point and told them to have a good night. We passed a guy in one of the slickest suits I’ve ever seen shy of a New York pimp playing the sax, case open to the passersby and another group playing a reggae/rock of some sort. My kid was completely freaked out as I casually migrated us past and said “how in the world can you act like any of this is normal?!”
Huh? I asked them what about it wasn’t normal. My kid was wigged out by so many people being so close and stationary as we passed and casually coming up to us as if they knew us. I realized this is the first time they have ever seen anything like this. I sat them down and pointed out how boring the street would be without all this music blending through it and the ones creating it did this as their job just as much as I did my grind during the week. We just didn’t see it much where we lived because 1. we live out in the sticks of that city and 2. its not really lucrative for a troubadour to wander the streets of our downtown, though we have had a couple from time to time.
As for the vagrants, I told them that a great many of our GI’s and mentally disabled have ended up on the streets for a variety of reasons. Especially in the case of the vets, they come back broken in mind and body and the government that ordered them to go cannot give them resources they need to heal them. Many of those with mental illnesses may not have anyone to help them cope with the day to day complications of being a run of the mill home-residing adult. It takes a lot out of a normal person to deal with the daily hassles of keeping the bills paid, home in livable conditions, meals prepared, transport, etc. For someone who has nothing and no one to fall back on, this is where many end up. I told my kid too, that it doesn’t hurt anyone to be just civil to a person on the street, and you never know, that one conversation may have made their entire day.
We then proceeded to see one rather tame concert. We were a bit disappointed the opening band didn’t have the attendance the main show did, as we were fans of that one too. I suppose the floor was pretty normal with the excited and dunk thrashing around like maniacs for the main band, but those of us up a bit in the upper levels, mostly sat and watched. And because I’m now an adult and have to set a fucking example, I didn’t punch the drunk dipshit next to me who apparently cannot hold a beer while talking without wanting to thrash both hands. But I did what I could. Oh if I could have accidentally backhanded that cup to hit right on their crotch… yes, I tried. Shut up.
The fellow on the other side of my kid kept asking incredulously “You have all their albums? How old are you?” My kid is one of those weird ones who had the White album at age five and listened to it when they went to sleep at night. I claim all responsibility for the leading them on the right path when it comes to music choices. We don’t agree on everything but my influence is strong and eclectic. My kid curled up on my arm and just silently watched the entire 3+ hours. I at least got to teach them the tradition of cheering at the end to get an encore. I also introduced them to the tradition of always leaving with a band t-shirt. Since we liked both, we got two. When we left, I was instructed not to talk to any vagrants and was pushed past anyone who remotely paused anywhere near us.
We got up the next morning to take the car in for service with the look of two hangovers, something I don’t understand since neither of us drank. Yes, I know how to change my oil, but it is totally worth it to me to drink the expensive coffee and suck up the free Wi-Fi the dealer provides and pay a reasonable price to have someone else do it. Yes, I take it to the dealer. Yes, it is reasonable. Yes, I have experience with other mechanics to know that for sure. I’ve been going long enough I get a 20% knock off that reasonable price too. I found out how else this came to my advantage when I was told that my car was not currently in safe driving condition, it needed a new catalytic converter (read: fucking expensive). Mind you, yes the check engine light had been coming on for a few weeks, usually only on Mondays and Tuesdays and always went off when I twisted the gas cap tighter. My gas gauge was also lighting up inversely. When I say this, I mean the LEDs that tell you how much gas is left in the car were all dark, but all the others were lit up. Like doing a negative image of what it should look like. My first thought is also how lucky I am that our four hour drive the day before went without incident. But DAMN, REALLY!? Do you KNOW what month this is?!?
The part won’t be in until Tuesday. I will have to rent a vehicle. When I said my history with my dealer came in handy, I mean this. I was granted one of their cars for 3 days for the price of day and I didn’t have to sign the excessive bullshit of information required by Enterprise. My kid and I left after some tearful goodbyes to Lenore (our car, dubbed so after the Roman Dirge character since she is all black and kills small animals) and left to go get food. We took Ramona, the Insight we were granted because it sounded appropriate for a vegan hipster, and went to get a very late breakfast at the Waffle House right down the road. We got our plates of All-Star goodness and dug in. I like my eggs over medium, kid likes their scrambled. They barely touched theirs, but I devoured mine. Other than this one thing, we pretty much took out the rest with relish.
We grabbed some groceries and happily headed home. That was when my stomach started to churn. Of course, my nosy as fuck landlord had to stop by to see “how we were doing” (translation: did you get a new car? does this mean I should increase rent I wonder.). They manage to get through the civilities in record time and inquired about the real reason they stopped by, I told them in my pleasant way “Hell no, who the hell can afford a new damn car? and especially right at Christmas? Are you crazy?”
I told him the part that was being replaced and got the hillbilly rundown of how I could have kept it running by poking it out with a broomstick without spending a thing. At this point, I just stare. I am really just trying to seek the words that can make this go faster so “well, considering it’s a Honda, it would probably require a pipe cleaner not a broomstick and I have no experience with converters, and if it means I get another 9 years of silence by replacing it, I’m ok with that. Unless of course you feel like providing all this free labor?” Bingo! Found the winner. Conversation ended and he quickly excuses himself.
That’s when my stomach will no longer be ignored. It feels like it has turned to hot lava and I get the first taste of mucous at the back of the throat that lets me know to get close to a bathroom. After a half dozen migrations from couch to bed to bathroom, I finally find the right combination that will allow me to sleep through it without making it worse. My phone rings. The dealer has called. They have managed to get the car into driving condition, but the converter is still indeed bad. I tell them that I have finally gotten into a spot where I will likely not vomit after a bad Waffle House experience. He offers his sympathy and tells me not to worry about it and they will just see us Tuesday. I love them.
I wake up later that evening feeling MUCH better and hungry. I nuke a mac & cheese thinking this will be mild enough to test the waters. NOPE! It wasn’t too long before I migrated to the couch to ride it out again and didn’t wake up til the next morning. My single finger salute to you Waffle House, you heartless bastards!