Remember, Ike, your humiliation will help mankind

MICHAEL OLESKER

September 30, 1993|By MICHAEL OLESKER

The last thing my friend Ike says as he's dropping us at the house the other night is, "Now, I'm not gonna see a word of this in the newspaper, right?"

"Heh-heh," I reply thoughtfully, with the accent squarely on both heh's, as I grab my bride and the two of us make a run for the house.

"Heh-heh" is a response which is actually a nonresponse, unless you're clever enough to read between the heh's. Roughly translated, and leaving room for the various inflections, it means:

"Of course this is going in the newspaper! Such grand Laurel-and-Hardyism cries out to be told, for all the lessons of life it imparts to readers of this space," to wit:

1. Sometimes bright people are capable of great stupidity.

2. When caught doing something dumb, they will resort to the First Law of Survival, known to all above the age of 2, which is: Find someone to blame.

3. The city is a jungle, whose inhabitants can be quite helpful on occasion.

Such as the other night, when my friend Ike and his previously blameless wife, Mandy, take my bride and me downtown, where Ike parks the car at a meter on Market Place, outside the Brokerage, and we all get out and Ike carefully locks all the doors.

Slight problem: The four of us are standing out there with the car doors all locked, when a perceptive Ike notices the following: His key is still in the ignition, the motor is still running, and his headlights are on.

Naturally, Ike immediately resorts to the First Law of Survival, turns to his wife, the previously blameless Mandy, and blames her.

"For what?" she asks innocently.

"For not taking the keys out of the ignition," he explains.

"Right," says my bride, Suzy, lapsing into a slight state of sarcasm. "How irresponsible. We all know it's the passenger's job to remove the key from the ignition. What did you think, you were just along for the ride?"

"I mean it," Ike says.

"Oh, yeah?" says Mandy. "And what happens if you're driving by yourself? You have to sit in the car until somebody takes the keys out?"

So then Ike blames her for not carrying a spare key in her purse, and Mandy suggests what he might do with such a spare key. Naturally, all of this is kicking up quite a ruckus, which precipitates a noteworthy sequence of events.

First, a police car comes by, followed by a meter maid, followed by another police car, with the following dialogue ensuing three straight times:

Us: ''We're locked out of our car. Can you help us?''

Police (looking as though they've never seen such a thing in their lives): "Gosh, can't help you on that. But we'll call back to the district, and maybe they can send somebody out."

Meanwhile, from different directions, something remarkable happens.

We are approached by three fellows who have been hanging about, all of whom declare variations on the following:

"Locked out of your car? Hey, no problem."

You get it? Three police can't unlock this car, but three street guys, no problem.

And, with that, we have one of them working on the right front door with a wire coat hanger and a screw driver, one working on the left front door, and one pacing back and forth, declaring, "Just let me use the screw driver for a minute, man. I'll get in through the back."

You've never seen such industriousness in your life.

At the moment, none of us wishes to ask the obvious: Where did these gentlemen pick up such interesting skills?

The figures on stolen cars are scary. Entire industries -- car alarms, clubs which lock steering wheels into place -- have sprouted from such crime.

And now we're watching three strangers, merely trying to be helpful, casually unlocking this car door in a matter of minutes.

"Let me give you a few bucks," says Ike.

"Nah, no problem," says the fellow whose wire coat hanger flipped open a lock. He's happy just to show a little pride in his skills.

Ike's happy just to be let off the hook. He not only got his keys back, but he's got hopes the rest of us will forgive what's happened.

Which is why, the last thing he said was, "Now, I'm not gonna see a word of this in the newspaper, right?"

In the newspaper? Nah. No way.

Heh-heh.

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