Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hornet's Hummer

"Oh dear" was all I could think. I was sweaty from my exertions and badly needed my 20 oz mug of coffee from the Wawa (Native American for goose). My entire mind flashed at the jolt, which was miniscule I might add, but I saw a canary yellow bonnet and ferocious looking chrome grille in my rear view mirror and all I could summon was another "Oh, dear."

As I stepped out of my car in the parking lot of the 'Y' and she stepped out in a pair of black leotards and mustard sweater, my inner child screamed, "Oh, fuck, fuck". I couldn't also help wondering if God was getting even with me for poking fun at Pope Benedict and his newly minted cardinals at a recent dinner party, though the moment passed just as quickly because I know the Supreme Being is on my side and I'm not afflicted nor do I get off on conjuring up terrors of damnation like so many religious brethern living state-side.

"Gosh, I didn't see you drive in," I said to the hornet. Clearly she'd stormed into the parking lot, because I'd checked moments before and all was clear. By now, I should add I was addressing the slope of her back and increasingly honed ass--I must give full credit where credit is merited--because she was bent over inspecting the aforementioned ferocious looking grille and bumper.

Perhaps I should say at this point that I am not at all partial to Hummer 1, Hummer 2 and/or Hummer 3 vehicles, or their owners--actually, more likely to be lessors because it used to be a loophole in the US tax code which allowed deductions that encouraged demand for such idiotic ownership. In fact, I detest Hummers. They were invented for US army field use and that is exactly where they should have remained.
They appeal to a certain segment of the US population, in much the same way that Corvette's, because of their phallic-like appearance, supposedly appeal to men who...well, who might be a tiny bit deficient in certain nether regions.

With regard to the Hummer customer profile, I have found they appeal to the twenty-first century equivalent of the eighties Yuppies, namely thirty-something males and, judging from what draws alongside me and dismounts during visits to the supermarket, their manicured, exquisitely dressed and shod girlfriends or wives and similarly exquisitely dressed and shod toddlers. I've even seen one Hummer that's doubles as a billboard on wheels because the owner has the name of his company, which includes the word "Angels" and provides at home nursing services to the elderly, brandished on both doors and on the back.

Thankfully, the reign of Hummers and other gas guzzling mostrosities appears to be over because there's no longer a voracious demand. A dealership in New Jersey I pass by on the way to NYC has an adjacent field containing hundreds of them, all still with the opaque plastic wrapping on their roofs and bonnets, all waiting their day to meet the crusher, hopefully.

But I digress. The hornet muttered "Hmm, clearly," as she pawed, stroked and caressed her man o'war's shiny surfaces with her long, crimson painted nails. I shot a look at my own car, a dainty Sebring in comparison, saw it had sustained no damage. To my amazement, she then had the temerity to check her right wing which had not been within reach of my car.

"My vehicle has no damage so..." I allowed the sentence to trail unfinished in the air between us so Hornet could draw the logical conclusion that if mine had none, her canary yellow tank also could certainly not.

As she peered at my car, her countenance soured as if she'd been forced to take in some ghastly abomination.

"Well, I have a long scratch," she said, as she turned back to me.
"Aha, here." She pointed with a curled finger at the bumper and I couldn't help notice the myriad of liver spots on her hands. "It wasn't here when I left home this morning."
My tongue quivered in preparation to pass a caustic observation in the vein of, "Scour your car's entire surface every morning, do you?", but I stilled it.
The scratch was high and my car is low to the ground. "It couldn't have been as a result of my reversing," I said, and I nodded at my car and back to the scratch so she could make the connection.
"A flying pebble."
"Excuse me?"
"A flying pebble, perhaps." Her eyes fell to the macadam and rose again.
The addition of 'perhaps' gave me my 'out.' "Or an unattended supermarket cart. That happens all the time, I've seen how careless customers are after they've packed their groceries into their cars...and it's high enough on your vehicle for that."

I was determined not to commit the cardinal sin of admitting liability, thus giving my insurance company an opportunity to interfere with my pristine record and raise my premium should she start in with that caper.

Both of us fell silent in the manner of a car saleman who's made his pitch and the first to speak loses. The silence endured, broken only by the snore of passing traffic and the caw of an ancient crow with ragged wings flying low amid a stand of nearby trees.

"I've got to get inside. I booked a machine and I'm now running late. What shall we do?" she said.
I decided to be generous. "Look, I've got some Brasso in my trunk and you can borrow it because I'm sure it'll take away that little scratch immediately."
"I can't use Brasso. I've got no gloves."


I sighed exaggeratedly, then said, "I'll do it for you."
I opened the trunk of my car and ferreted about, wondering as I grabbed the rag and can if my action could be misconstrued in any way by Hornet for guilt, decided it could not, and in any event it was too late. I approached the tank and began to apply and buff, hating myself for having to even touch it, under her cold gaze. The ragged crow passed cawing again as if mocking me.

As I'd anticipated, the scratch vanished.

"It's gone. I told you so."

I walked back to my trunk.

"How come you travel with Brasso and a dustcloth in your car?"
It sounded so innocent, but of course was choc-a-bloc full of implication and suspicion.
"Oh, unattended supermarket carts." I opened my car door."Enjoy your workout."
I started down the parking lot and watched in my rearview mirror as she climbed into her vulgar bus and pulled into my vacated spot.

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Mark said...

I enjoyed that. You're better at relishing the confrontation than I'd be comfortable doing but then, that's part of my midwestern upbringing I suppose.

I'm currently reading your book and am toward the end of it. I've been enjoying it immensely and keep taking breaks from a painting project that's underway, to my partner's chagrin.

Looking to read more from you.

Damian McNicholl said...

Mark, you gave me a right laugh about taking breaks during your painting project. Glad you're enjoying the novel.

Limo said...

I was very glad reading your story.I have a fun.Thank you.