Betty Duffy

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A very long drive

The alarm rang and I awoke--or maybe I was already awake. Such is the way of things when one wants to be somewhere on time, and the entire night is a fog of semi-consciousness, and listening…listening to the inner narrative of items packed, things to grab dans le matin, and the alarm that is sure to ring any minute.

Unfortunately, something weird happened when my husband and I were setting the alarm the night before, and in the flurry of pressing buttons, a wrong button was pushed so that the alarm went off an hour early. I was up, dressed, had eaten, and wondered why the Darwins were not joining me (they had arrived the night before for our early departure), when I saw the clock read 4 a.m. And that was deflating.

Laid back down for thirty minutes or so, got back up walked around the house checking, and re-checking my stuff. It certainly was all ready to go. And at last our actual wake-up time arrived. We burned a couple pieces of toast for the Darwins to eat, and hopped in the van, threw it into reverse and drove about ten feet.

"What the hell is that?"

We had a flat tire, which was a confusing piece of information, as my husband had had the car serviced the day before, tires rotated, yadda yadda. It made no sense to have a flat tire, but there was no mistaking it, and my husband and Mr. Darwin set about finding the necessary components to apply the spare.

In hindsight, setting out for the thirteen hour drive to New Orleans with a flat tire, was not a good choice--but when you wait so long for an event, stopping for anything becomes the non-possibility. So once the spare was applied, I kissed my husband goodbye, and my companions and I set out in the dark of the morn, with a vague notion that somewhere, we would be stopping, mid-trip for car maintenance.

The flat tire turned out to be happy fall, rather than the first stop on a road trip from hell, as we made it safely to Nashville without blowing out the spare, and were able to drop in on the lovely "Curmudgeonry" authoress, Jordana Adams, while I had the flat tire fixed.

The few times I've met People of the Internet, I've done a lot of primping, set up the circumstances just so, and had very polite times--until we all get to know each other, at least--as the Darwins and I undoubtedly have--and now we can even sit together in a car for thirteen hours without farting or fighting (though in my opinion, going the whole day without a fart is a much bigger accomplishment than avoiding a fight).

It was rather fun to meet more serendipitously, to drop in on Jordana and see her kids there, milling and schooling, and Jordana doing all that too in the midst of pleasant conversation.

I always know in theory that there are real people behind these blogs, but there's still something sort of miraculous about it when the words and the people match up so beautifully. At some point I have to stop expressing surprise about this fact that people really are who they say they are.

In any case, I fell in love with Jordana, her kids, her house, and the faith that gives all these strangers I've met online our underpinnings… and the internet too.

As Dorian and I were working on our paper, which concerned social networking and the existential problems presented in Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer" almost all of our research pointed to the conclusion that the internet really is what Dorian coined, "Malaise on a stick"--which we conceptualized as looking something like this:

(Artichoke ball on a Marlboro)

But we couldn't let our thesis end there, because, after all, we met online. We were there at that conference because of connections we made online. How could something so bad be so good? You tell me.

When I finally called the shop to see if my tire had been repaired, the mechanic said there had been no hole in the tire to begin with, another confusing piece of information. But one doesn't complain when their problems turn out not to exist. We were back on the road, listening to Adele, and reading aloud excerpts from Postmodern Pooh.

We arrived in New Orleans at ten.


Darwin said...

To the extent that spending so much time in a car can be fun, that trip was an absolute blast.

BettyDuffy said...

I was a little worried the Malaise might show up in my combox. Glad it's just you. And I agree. Though, excepting that little event about which we shall never speak again, I think the ride home was more fun. Lot's to hash over.

Dorian Speed said...

I'm kind of terrified to comment anywhere, now that The Malaise has materialized.

MrsDarwin said...

Hey! That's my hand holding the Malaise on a Stick! Now I'm famous!

The Malaise is afraid to show up in Betty's combox, because no one has ever needed to say "Meh" around here.

Suzanne said...

Interesting photo, made me immediately think two things -
(1)What the heck is an artichoke ball?
(2)Do I have any cigarettes left in my hidey hole behind the chimney?

BettyDuffy said...

Mrs. D, I was going to comment where the Malaise recently said "Meh," because I happened to notice the photo referenced showcased M.any E.xcellent H.ineys. My own among them.

Suzanne, artichoke balls are...hmm...your guess is as good as mine. Something to contemplate over a cigarette.

Otepoti said...

Which child will get a talking-to about not deflating tyres for a joke? :-D

Jordana said...

It was awesome to meet you too. The sad part of the internet is that I can't keep all the fun and interesting people right next door for friendly visits of a more frequent nature. Although, if people dropped in on me all the time, I'd probably bar the door and raise the drawbridge.

Annalea said...

After all of the camaraderie and cleverness in the comments, I'm simply practical: I've noticed that the tires on my van tend to lose air for a week or three after being looked at/rotated/yadda yadda. So, maybe have the check-out/tune up done a week or so before? That's my plan . . . we'll see if I can make it materialize . . .