Some men have a roaming eye for women. Paul does for cars.
While driving conversation is brought to a near stop at the passing of a lot. His focus drawn to the inventory like another mans would be drawn to a nice ass in a short skirt. I do not know all the details of his love life prior to meeting me, nor should I, but I m pretty aware that he didn’t have any trouble. Even Quaker might have envied the amount of oats sowed before he determined I was the best long-term investment.
When it comes to cars however, it's like he's still a wild young navy cadet looking for a new "ride" at every harbor. He has tried out everything; from the petite girl with the small tits (Honda civic), to the chick that comes from some money but likes to go fast (Audi a4), to the girl that's a little beat up, but always reliable (Jeep Cherokee).
When Paul decided that a 1994 jeep wrangler was the ideal car for him, there was a lot of negative feedback. Some Nay Sayers felt that it wasn't an appropriate car for his 100-mile round trip commute. Others balked at the rising costs of gas, or how it wasn’t exactly ideal for two car seats. Not I. No way.
You know why? We were now completely devoted to being Parents, and he gave the rest to his career. The freedom and irresponsibility we once defined ourselves by were in a matter of a couple of years replaced by mortgage payments, sleepless nights, and bickering over which of us was contributing more to the household during any given week.
God bless him if he found something that made him transition a little easier from the spontaneous free spirited couple we once were to the slaves to our current lifestyle that we had now become. The Jeep didn't last long, because in the end people were right, it wasn’t the right car for the kind of trip he makes each and every weekday. And on top of that, the brakes were shot and the rotors needed to be replaced. But I'm still proud that he went for it, and at least got it out of his system. Maturing is an evolution, and I find that with both of us, forcing it with other's suggestions sometimes slows it down rather than speeds it up.
What did bother me about the Wrangler is that it sat unused in our yard for months. Almost like a constant reminder of how we couldn’t be those kind of people anymore, we were parents now and approaching our thirties. Although we were still young, the past 4 years had aged us each at least 10. The much more reasonable choice was the used silver mini van (a very generous Gift from my parents), that Paul now drove.
We had been having a rough couple of weeks. Paul was in the ZONE at work, which meant on average he was home around 8:30. Kaia was potty training and pretty convinced that my role in life was to fulfill her demands, which came in three-minute intervals. It s funny how sweet it is to hear your child say mommy for the first time, and how horrible it becomes when it proceeds every other word she says. Elliana was now nearly 15 months, weighed as much as Kaia, and refused to walk or talk. So my hours were 5 am to 9 pm (dinner still needed to be made), and my bosses were basically a dictator and a 30 lb. mumbling growth out of my left side.
It was Saturday and we had arranged for a babysitter to get some alone time. Our fighting due to the stress levels had elevated again and it was time to regroup and do some team building. For some inexplicable reason moments of extreme stress cause me to focus on the nonessential things in life we should really be on top of. I'm sure it's some kind of survival strategy, like if I finally add enough things I'll have a breakdown and get some rest. And so that morning the first thing I thought was that the Jeep really needed to go.
Of course Paul jumped at the idea, and to be honest all I could think was "well played". What that meant was; he would have alone time to post the ad on craigslist, be ready to deal with anyone that called, and be prepared to sell the jeep, which included more alone time outside cleaning the jeep. In the past I would have harbored resentment and nixed the whole idea, but I had recently come to terms that we were kindred souls, both just craving moments of calm.
The Jeep had been posted and a buyer was coming all within a two hour span. The girls both needed a nap, and to reward myself for not creating a dispute over his getting at least a little alone time, I decided I would nap too. I'm not a napper. I've taken maybe 5 in my life. To me it feels like giving up half way through. Just as I first lay down, Kaia began stirring.
Within 5 minutes I knew there would be no napping. I still wasn't willing to throw in the towel. I bartered with the enemy. Cartoons in my bed if you are willing to remain in the room and not cause irreparable damage to yourself or the house. I think that's why there are so many stories about kids drawing on walls or putting things in toilets. Secretly as parents, we know what's about to go down, but risk assessment is done, and a moment to ourselves outweighs the possible damage. That s why there aren’t as many stories of kids knocking down major structural bearings of a home, greater risk.
I awoke to our dog barking furiously because the buyer had arrived. I was pushed into an even further state of alertness by the roaring of the jeeps engine starting up for a test drive. Paul came in shortly to announce the car was sold. He grabbed himself a cup of green tea and started prepping the jeep for it's departure.
By this time Elliana was awake too. I made patterns of my behavior: observe kids, use bathroom for something, look out window to see progress. I'm working on finding processes that keep the anger at bay. By creating a cycle, I could measure time. Ok, so 5 more cycles and he should be done and I finally won't be alone. I had made it through about cycle 3.
When I looked out the Jeep was no longer there, I had never even heard it start. All I saw was the flash of Paul with his green tea in hand yelling at the neighbor if he had seen the assailant. The Jeep had been stolen.
I watched as Paul ran to the mini van and peeled out of our driveway, there was no way they'd get very far with the breaks as bad as they were. In that moment I felt extreme calm. As though this whole scenario belonged to us, and the chaos of a life we had created. We've never been good at doing a lot of planning or really thinking things through. We like the adrenaline of taking a risk and going full throttle. I felt like this was the way it was meant to be.
About 15 minutes later Paul returned driving the Jeep. I thought "holy shit, he really did hunt them down and scare them into giving it back." I shouted out the window to our hero asking where the van was. He let me know that he would be back with it in a couple minutes.
The Jeep had not been stolen at all. During the test drive, the buyer and Paul had neglected to check that the brake was in place. The jeep had rolled, crossed the street, jumped the curb four houses down, managed it's way between two trees and just missed hitting a neighbors house. It was as if even the jeep didn't want us to finally give in and move on. Like even if it was just sitting in the yard as an eye sore to the neighbors and a slight reminder to the world we didn't have all our shit together, it represented more. It even took the care to take the only possible path that didn't lead to some kind of destruction.
And then the police arrived. Paul had called them as back up in his manhunt. And now it was up to him to explain the real story. The officer investigated the new crime scene (our neighbors yard), and determined that no damage had been done. She requested Paul's license, registration, and insurance. All of which he had, except that since the jeep had been just sitting there, he had never put the current insurance card in. Another chess play from some higher power, mocking that we had thought the game was over.
This is the moment when your husband runs in the house and lays out the options, either you can provide the irritated officer waiting outside with proof of current insurance, or he will be going to jail. Again, the threat didn't seem to bother me, I could highly see it as a possible outcome, and accepted it.
"Oh, so what you're saying is that a lovely saturday afternoon before a date night might instead be another day spent alone with the girls because you'll be in jail, yeah sure that makes sense, I'm not sure why I didn't suggest that to begin with. "
I am a fan of the Internet. I do everything online. And here's why; in the past when your husband came in and let you know he was facing jail time, there weren't the options there are today. I loaded up our insurer's website, and was able to download our current information. Naturally, because there was a sense of urgency the computer and Internet choose to provide this information as slowly as possible, but we are all aware of how funny electronics seem to find that joke. Never gets old.
Today would not be the day that our children got to watch their father taken away in the back of a cop car. Will it happen in the future, the chances are extremely likely. Paul returned to the house a free man. After some nervous laughter and discussion of the days events, we decided to go out and do some grocery shopping. How else does one celebrate avoiding prison?
We loaded the girls in the van, and I sat down in the passenger seat and let out a deep breathe. That's when I saw it. The screwdriver I kept in the kitchen drawer. That's curious I thought to myself. And so I asked.
Me: “Paul, why is the screwdriver in the car?"
And that's when the last puzzle piece fell into place.
Paul: "I took it with me when I went after whoever stole the Jeep"
Me: "Why? What were you going to do with a screwdriver"
Paul bewilderedly looked at me , as though my question seemed icredibly odd to him.
Paul: "I was going to stab the mother fucker."
Absolutely. It made absolute sense. A $1,600 Jeep Wrangler, with non-functioning breaks, and rotors, was definitely worth stabbing a motherfucker over. And then I realized, he's just as crazy as I am. A cup of green tea in one hand, and screwdriver with a mission in the other. How did this happen to us? Here I was thinking that the whole thing had been like a cruel joke, and in reality it was probably our greatest blessing. If the Jeep really had been stolen, we would have been facing a much larger jail sentence.
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