It’s Tuesday, January 5 and the alarm blares at 5:50 am. It’s morning basketball practice for the boy and I’ve got to get him to school before 7 am. As I crawl out of bed I’m hoping this is a better day. But, when I glance to the window, I can’t help notice the dumping of snow we received overnight.
Rousing the son is always a challenge. It’s like trying to raise a zombie from the dead. But, I get him into the shower, knowing well he’ll fall asleep in the tub within minutes. He does his showers in the prone position.
Once we’re ready to roll, we off on a side trip to pick up the boy’s sidekick in a hamlet north of our home. The roads are slick and the snow is falling like a succession of airborne wool blankets, thick and heavy. The roads are covered and the only tracks I see are in my rear view mirror. Only fools venture out in these conditions.
Once both boys are loaded, they’re begging me to turn on the radio.
“Maybe it’s a snow day, dad,” number two son remarks. (Number 1 son lives in Calgary)
And, maybe pigs have wings.
The School District won’t call a snow day the first week after the Christmas Break, unless, of course, the Director himself gets stuck in his driveway.
I turn on the radio and settle into a little white knuckle driving – NASCAR style. I’m driving the car my daughter and I share, a little Pontiac Pursuit. Yes, that’s the car she drove into the ditch only days before. The tires that came with this vehicle are only good for parking lots and showrooms.
The radio drones on.
The problem with the local station is that their music programming annoys me. You can bet your bottom dollar that at 6:45 am the song will either be a Shania Twain or Celine Dion tune. Waiting for the snow day announcement can be pure hell. Good Lord, this morning they’re playing Barry Manilow.
As we make the big S-bend just before the school, the tires lose their traction and we’re drifting madly to the left. A tall wooden fence is coming at us like the Great Wall of China. Fortunately, I’m driving in senior citizen gear, and we slowly glide to a stop.
The son’s buddy remarks, “That’s why you drive really slowly in the winter, eh, Mr. J.”
My boy can’t resist a good opening and chimes in with, “No, my dad always drives slowly. He`s almost sixty.”
They’re both out of the vehicle before I can throttle the little monkey.
Now I’m faced with the return trip and the prospect of getting my wife to work. I try not to think of treacherous, “Dead Man’s Hill.”
Let me describe “Dead Man’s Hill”. The hill is a steep, running down to a narrow bridge, followed by an incline of mammoth proportions. On a good day you can race down that hill and catch some air on the bridge. On a bad day, you might just find yourself in the creek. This is a bad day.
As I approach the hill, I notice headlights at the brow on the other side. A rough estimation tells me that those lights are going to meet me at the bridge. That’s when I drop the gearshift into first gear. We’ll use our engine brakes as we coast into oblivion.
Long story short!
Nothing at all happens, save for the wet spot I feel in my underwear.
8:15: I drop the good wife at her school, and return home only to find the answering machine flashing. It’s got to be Mechanic Bob, and the news better be good.
“Hey, Jim, I was able to get the proper bushings and they fit like a charm. Call me and let me know if you want me to go ahead with the brakes. They’re still under warranty.”
This is about to become my post Christmas Nightmare. Maybe I should sell the rights to Tim Burton. He’d probably be up for a sequel and I’d have the cash to pay off my mechanic. Win-Win!
My daughter slips out of bed around 11 am. I ask her if she’ll accompany me to the dentist. I tell her, “Just in case I’m not up for driving home by myself.”
I’m surprised that she’s ready, willing and able. I tell her that we’ve got to leave at one. She promises me she’ll be ready on time. This is Hooterville, you see, and my dentist’s office is a 35 minute drive away. I also have to drop a document off at the bank. Jimbo is my name and multi-tasking is my game!
12:55 pm: “Honey. Let’s go. It’s nearly one.” I’m calling through her closed bedroom door.
“Daaaaaad, I’m not ready yet. Geeeeez!”
The girl has been preening herself for nearly an hour. I gave her fair warning. My blood begins to boil. But, I’m an experienced dad, so I choose to pop over to the Corner Gas for a fill up, hoping of course, that my little model will be presentable for her personal appearance at the dentist’s office.
We hit the road at 1:20. The snowploughs have been out so I know we can keep to our schedule.
1:55: We’re parked right in front of Doctor’s office. As I get out of the vehicle, I see that my little lady isn’t about to budge.
“You’re comin’ in with me, right?” I ask.
“No, I’ll just sit in the car.”
“But . . .”
“Don’t worry, dad. You don’t need me to hold your hand. Be brave. You’ll be just fine.”
Oh my God, I’m eating my own words. You see, I was the one who took her to the dentist many years ago when she had four teeth yanked prior to her braces being installed
As I amble away I notice that my daughter is looking at the little mirror on the visor. I suspect her makeup needs an adjustment.
I enter the office and head right for the loo. I’ve got to pee so bad I can taste it.
When I re-enter the office I see a dental assistant wandering about the waiting room calling, “Jimbobalouie? Is Jimbobalouie, here?”
I startle her when I come up behind her and say, “Looking for me?”
Here’s a little word of advice. Startled dental assistants are not happy campers. Be prepared for some rough treatment in the chair. That suction thingy is soon to be pulling the taste buds off your tongue!
She leads me back into the corridor where the examination rooms are situated. But I’m not going there. I’m heading deeper into the bowels of the torture chamber to the notorious dental surgery suite.
This room is light and bright and white. It is wide and expansive. It reminds me of the room Dave finds himself in after traveling through the black hole in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Only this is 2010 and the only black hole I’m going to experience is the gaping hole in my mouth.
After situating me on a high tech looking chair, the dental assistant removes my glasses and replaces them with some really cool looking shades. I swear they’re Oakley’s. After all, my dentist knows we have insurance and, I’m sure he milks it to its full extent. The guy’s boat is bigger than my house.
“We’ll numb you up and when it takes we’ll have that tooth out of there in a jiffy,” the Doc remarks.
Four needles later, my mouth begins to numb-up big time. I’m listening to the conversation in the room, breathing deeply in a kind of meditative state. Could it be possible that novocaine is going directly to my brain’s central cortex? I think that would be a good thing.
Dental Assistant: “Do you think we’ll need the ‘thing-a-ma-jig-a-ma-bob’ today?”
DOC HILNER: “No, let’s hope not.”
The next thing I know, there are fingers and implements in my mouth and I sense a lot of digging around. I glance at my watch. It’s 2:10.
2:15: More digging and probing and pulling and twisting. Implements are being handed back and forth and forth and back as if this is open heart surgery. Oh, my good, in goes the drill. I’m sweating profusely.
2:20: There’s a pull that has sufficient force to have the top of my head drawn down to the roof of my mouth, then a twist and a snap. That’s when I hear the words I’ve been dreading.
Doctor Dave whispers, “I’ll need the ‘thing-a-ma-jig-a-ma-bob’.”
The damn tool looks like a claw hammer when it appears in front of my eyes. The next 10 minutes are not unlike that scene from Marathon Man, with Dustin Hoffman having his teeth extracted – sans novocaine. I’ll spare you the details because they would be R rated.
3:35: The Doc is closing up shop with several stitches sewn into my mouth.
So, I ask him what the heck went wrong.
“Well, Jim, that tooth was supposed to have one root. Yours had two. I had a lot of trouble getting it out of there. You’re going to have a sore mouth.”
He hands me a prescription for Tylenol III.
With a sponge in my mouth to staunch the bleeding, slobber running from my lips because of the freezing, and a swollen face, I re-enter the vehicle to the words,
“There you go, dad. That wasn’t so bad. You were really brave today.”
I feel as if I’m a man-child. My daughter is turning into my mother.
2:50: So, now it’s off to pick up my wife and head to the boy’s basketball game.
A quick trip to Wal-Mart will kill a little time before schools out. I’m sure the people in the store think I’m a Serial Killer, what with the packing bulged in my cheek, the blood oozing from the corner of my mouth and the drool streaming down my chin.
We decide to pick up coffee at the Tim Horton`s drive through. I verbalize my order as usual.
“I’ll ave won woubble woubble an won wegular cowfee and a wunny wooler, wease!”
“Pardon me, sir?”
Louder and with a more drawn out cadence, I say, “Won. . . woubble woubble. . . an. . won wegular cowfee an. . . a wunny wooler, wease!”
My daughter is in stitches. The tears are running down her face and she’s bent over as if she’s got a cramp. I’m Kramer in the episode where, after some dental work, he jumps into a cab with the dude who’s having a fund raiser for “special” people. Thinking Kramer is one of his clients he invites him to be a head table guest.
3:35: Well, we pick up my wife, race to the game and are lucky to find a space in the busy school parking lot. I get out of the car, shut the door and remember I’ve left the packet of blood sucking sponges on the front seat. No problem, I’ll grab them and run.
And, pigs might have wings!
I’ve locked the freaking keys in the car and, guess what; my daughter doesn’t have her key with her.
“I left it at home because I’m always afraid I’m going lose it, dad.”
You see, she’s been on a bit of losing streak lately, having misplaced some earrings and a very valuable ring.
We decide to call CAA (AAA) later because we’re late for the game as it is. When the half-time break arrives, I borrow a hanger and try to pull the lock button myself. That’s when I notice that I also left the freaking car running. (This car idles like a sleeping kitten.) It’s been sitting in the parking lot for a half an hour burning 99 cent a litre gas. (That’s about $4.50 a gallon) And for the record, that coat hanger technique is bogus, my friends.
Long story short!
4:45: I call CAA. The guy is there in fifteen minutes and I have my keys in my hand before I know it. I’ve missed most of the game but the boy’s team is victorious.
The Buick gets repaired and the cost is a mere $716.00. It stays in the shop for three days.
Because of the game and key incident, I miss picking up that prescription in time, so I rely on an old Wild West pain treatment, that of a straight whiskey mouth wash and a hard swallow. (Repeat as Necessary) No problem there, cowboys.
The tire issue is solved when we spend another $500 on four all weather radial tires. Dads know that they must protect the assets they dearly love. The Pursuit could plough through just about anything.
A third key is cut for the Pursuit. I had to buy it directly from GM. Cost me 35 freaking dollars for a $2 key. Thank goodness the nice lady at the TSC store didn`t charge me one cent for the cutting. I think she thought I was mentally challenged.
“Ha-whoa, woo you coth me a keith, wease!”
In 48 hours I`ve driven half way around the world it seems, my mouth hurts like hell and my bank account is bleeding itself dry.
As my dear departed father would say. “Who has more fun than people?”
Dentists, mechanics and daughters.