Just blame Garfield!

Dan Rodricks

July 05, 1991|By Dan Rodricks

So I get the new stickers for my car registration in the mail. They arrive at the end of the month, just as I'm preparing to leave for vacation. In the haste of the moment, I forget to put the stickers on my car. I leave them stuck to the refrigerator with a Garfield magnet. I take off for vacation, leaving my car behind. I return 10 days later. The day I am due back at work, I hop into the car and drive off. Two miles into my morning commute, a cop pulls me over. He says I'm driving with expired tags. Oh, I say, explaining that the tags are at home, stuck to the refrigerator with a Garfield magnet. The cop says he's cutting me a break; he could have the car towed. He hands me a $35 ticket.

Great. Just great.

A friend of mine and his wife discover their wristwatches are missing from their bedroom. One is a Rolex, the other a top-of-the-line Bulova. Husband and wife go into a panic. They search the house top and bottom. They can't find the watches. After a few days, they decide the watches have disappeared into the same black hole that, in households across America, sucks up socks and keys and eyeglasses. Prayers to St. Anthony go unanswered. About two weeks later, my friend walks into his 3-year-old son's room. While negotiating a pile of stuffed animals, he finds the wristwatches -- the Bulova on Goofy's wrist, the Rolex on Mickey's.

Wonderful.

I go to the supermarket. I buy baby food, diapers, milk, eggs and a half-gallon of apple juice. "Paper or plastic?" the cashier asks. Mindlessly -- or, perhaps, just for a change of habit -- I choose plastic. I drive home. I get out of the car. I grab the shopping bags. The one with the half-gallon of apple juice splits open. Glass shatters, apple juice runs down the driveway.

Beautiful.

I go to my favorite Chinese carry-out in Govans and discover a sign of the times: A wall of protective glass separating customers from the kitchen and cash register. Small revolving windows are installed in the wall of glass. One must place one's order through a small slit. The sign on the glass says, "Please Speak Loudly."

Swell.

Working against a hard deadline, I borrow a broadcast-quality tape recorder for two important interviews. I get instructions on the setting of all the various dials and switches. I conduct a test. The recorder works beautifully. I conduct an interview, then depart quickly for the second interview. After the second interview, I head back to the office. On the way, I rewind the tape to listen to the interviews. There's nothing there. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

What a Zhlob I am!

My mother mails me a round tin with a fruitcake inside at Christmas. I don't eat it. She's a wonderful woman, my mother. But I don't like fruitcake. I can't eat it. I put it away, out of view, and forget about it. Six months later, I'm looking for a container in which to save pennies. I grope around in a kitchen cabinet until I come across a round, covered tin. I open it up. IT'S THE FRUITCAKE!! AND IT SMELLS LIKE STEVEDORES' FEET!!

Agh!!

I step up to a vending machine with 50 cents. It's a state-of-the-art digital machine. You tap in a code to get what you want. To get Peanut M&Ms, my favorite fruit, the magic code is D-10. I tap D, then 1 and, before I can tap the 0 to complete the code, a package of Oreo's drops into the receptical pan. The code for Oreos is D-1. Apparently, the vending machine never lets a customer get past D-1 to D-10. A week later, it happens again. And I do not even like Oreos!

Great. Just great.

A neighbor has a large dog, a Newfoundland. It is black and shaggy, with a head the size of a beer keg. As I step into the neighbor's yard, I approach the dog. Her name is Suzie. She seems quite friendly. I pet her. Suzie draws closer. She presses her head against my legs. I'm wearing a pair of gabardine trousers. When the petting is finished, Suzie pulls away, leaving behind about six inches of some strange and vulgar substance on my gabardines. I've been slimed!

Gross. Just so gross.

I stop my car at the stop sign on Fleet and Caroline. It's rush hour, and there is a lot of truck traffic on Fleet. A cabbie stops behind me. The driver is impatient. He honks his horn, he yells out his window. I pull over to let him pass. Three minutes later, I park my car in Fells Point. Two women in a white Jaguar with Virginia plates stop on Broadway to ask directions to Harborplace. Trying to be helpful, I start giving directions -- when the same cabbie pulls up behind the Jaguar, honks his horn and yells at me again! Great. Just great.

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