It was a Sunday. I was supposed to be going to a birthday party in Antioch, forty minutes away. But the day had become a comedy of errors. I had sweet-talked my son into installing my new printer and had lured him over with the promise of pizza for lunch. It took him longer to install than he had hoped for. After pizza, we walked the dogs, his and mine. By the time he left, it was 2:15, and I still needed to go to See’s Candy to buy the birthday guy a box of chocolates.
Dang! I was also out of gas, so after purchasing the dark nuts and chews, I headed to the gas station next to the freeway ramp. I put in my debit card, punched in the pin number, chose my grade of gasoline, put the nozzle in the gas tank, locked it in, and went about washing the dirty windows on my Prius. When I was done, I went to the pump where it was asking if I wanted a receipt. I said yes, put the nozzle back in its holder, and waited. No receipt.
Oh well. I got into the car, strapped in, and headed for the entrance to the freeway. After I had merged into traffic I glanced at the dashboard and saw that I only had 56 miles of gas left. I hadn’t pumped any gas at all.
I was late for the party which had already started. I pulled off at the next exit, tried once again to fill up the gas tank and knew, as far as the birthday party went, I was going to bag it. I stopped at the rehab place with my sister’s clean clothes, headed up the freeway, wondering what I would do with the next two hours until music in the park.
I ended up buying a blender at Bed Bath and Beyond and going to the park early to veg out in my lawn chair. I had a lot to think about regarding my sister, her health and eating issues, what the doctors were saying to me, so on and so forth. I sat under the shade of a tree with my legs sticking out into the sun. They never seemed to get as tan as the upper body did. Yes, I know the sun is bad for my skin, but when your legs are covered with imperfections because they are six decades old, you want some color to help them look better.
As the park slowly filled up around me, I recognized a bunch of faces but wasn’t in the mood to join any of them. I didn’t even feel like drinking wine (what?) and only sipped my Snapple tea. My sunglasses and hat kept me incognito.
A group of women plopped down beside me. I continued to stew/veg/exist in my own little world, sorry that I had nothing better to do on Memorial Day weekend. When the Eagles tribute band started, I sat and listened, now too far deep into my thoughts to even have a conversation.
The women next to me ate their snacks and drank their drinks and kept to themselves. Then I saw a large panting dog and said outloud, “It’s way too hot for a dog to be out here.”
The woman closest to me said, “I agree.”
That launched me into my first communication with another human being in two hours.
“Don’t those people out there dancing look stupid?” she said.
“Uh, I am usually one of them,” I said.
Then I told her about the meet-up groups, the singles’ ski club, and all the other ways she could find out about joining them. I explained that she and her girlfriends could hear live music in the summer six nights a week if they were willing to drive a little.
“My friends and I will never go online to date anyone,” she said. “I can’t imagine walking into a Starbucks to meet anybody.”
I nodded in agreement since I’ve never used a dating app either.
“Unless God puts somebody in line behind me at the grocery store,” she said, “I will never date again.”
Never say never. No one knows what is around the corner. But I get how she feels. When it comes to dating, everything has changed. The old rules have all gone out the window. Who can keep up with the new ones?
The woman and her three friends had somber faces while a perfectly good cover band was playing its heart out, and there they sat with good food and ample wine. They had no reason not to smile.
It taught me a lesson. No matter now messed up my day had been, at least I still found joy in the stuff that had gone right. The music, the sunshine, the quiet before everyone descended upon the park.
Then the birthday boy showed up and claimed his box of chocolates.
A day that started as a comedy of errorsworked out in the end. I went home, grateful that I have lots of people to dance with when I’m in the mood.
I don’t really care if others think I look stupid.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
I should’ve danced that day. It was a new perspective to sit there and watch.