Monday, March 13, 2000

Another Dave's Broken Heart

"Straight up now tell me are you really going to love me forever? When I'm caught in a hit and run."
-Paula Abdul

Last year a weary man with a weary mind drove home late in the evening. As he pulled up to his garage, he got out of his car in the cold bitter air, opened his garage door and proceeded to bang his car into the side of his garage. The ugly crinkling metal sound made him not even want to look at the damage. Part of him felt unlucky that the whole garage had not come down on him.

The blessed girl who found a penny wherever she wandered was frustrated with her attempts to explain the difference between fiction and nonfiction to this daily phone caller. But she knew it was important that she tried. To lose that understanding was to lose one's grip on reality. Insanity is crazy, she thought.

This man was more of a disciple (or is it victim?) of the influences of pop culture than anyone she had ever known (with a lone possible exception of an all star soccer player he had once told her all about). He read the newspaper out of habit, and found himself caring as much about how things are covered as what the events being covered actually meant.

When he first read of David Letterman's heart trouble it was a time to reflect on how much he appreciated and had come to respect Dave's work over the years. To still be consistently entertaining after 18 plus years on the air is quite remarkable and sometimes easy to take for granted. Luckily this Dave's broken heart was fixable, mended by open heart quadruple bypass surgery. Ailments of that organ can be much more painful than being crowned over the head by a hubcap from someone who continues to occupy a soft spot inside. Open heart surgery, the modern miracle it is, brings science into a traditionally romantic area. To open one's heart up remains the most courageous act. To reach out is to risk having another shutting one out sooner or later.

The caller was standing in front of a vending machine digging change out of his pockets so he could purchase his daily Snackwells cookies (which out of fond remembrance to the one who introduced him to the delectable treat, he referred to as his rabbit food). He dropped a coin onto the floor and the sound of it clinking against the unforgiving cement was barely audible amongst the clamor of legislators and lobbyists. "Let's see, that was a dime," a voice behind him said. The gentleman responsible for keeping the vending machine stocked (who happened to be blind) was standing behind the caller. The blind man was correct. The caller was quite impressed. He asked the man what year the dime was from. The blind man chuckled and guessed a date that in the grand scheme of the moment was close enough.

As the caller was driving home late that night he approached a red light about a mile from his house. He noticed a car with its right turn signal blinking to his left. He thought something was amiss since the other driver had a green light and was stopped. The caller pulled up to his red light. The car perpendicular to his finally began its turn. But it clearly wasn't much of a turn. Headed at the helpless driver's side door as the headlights blared in the caller's eyes he desperately hit his horn. The other driver apparently was alerted enough to narrow his/her wide turn and "only" clipped the caller's rear left bumper. The caller expected the driver to stop but they continued on. He was going the opposite direction so there was little the caller could do but sit in bewilderment. He drove home, looked at the damage and called the police.

The caller tried his best not to look at the incident as a metaphor. Tried hard not to make it mean more than it actually did. Tried not to be too dramatic. But he failed. There are those in life who will hit you and disappear. Often others don't want to know the impact they have on you. Things can come at you from all sides at any moment.

The dispatcher asked the caller what he wanted to do. She asked him for a description of the other vehicle. "It was a white car, that's all I saw. You think you can find it?"

"Sure there aren't that many white cars out there," the dispatcher said with a chuckle. She asked him for a further description of the accident.

He struggled to figure out which way he was facing and which way the other driver was going.

"You sure you didn't hit your head?" the dispatcher asked.

She sent out a squad car, and the officer was much kinder than the caller expected him to be (he didn't test the officer by pulling out his wallet). The officer apologized for not being able to do much. "This is a nice area," the officer said. "Don't get out this way much." Somehow it comforted the caller making him feel just a little bit steadier.

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