I’m less than 5 years in on being married but feel I’ve reached a major milestone in the life long learning process involved with turning over your balls to a member of the fairer sex. The lesson? Just shut your fucking mouth. It is simple yet ever so complicated. I present to you the following real life vignette that played out recently in an alley in Oak Park, Illinois. It shall be referred to as “The Sirens of the Snow Island of Anthemoessa”.
In this secular parable of The Sirens of the Snow Island of Anthemoessa you are going to hear two separate narratives. Both involve the same location and specifically a towering mound of snow. This volcanic island of snow is located in the alley behind my house, in between my garage and that of my next door neighbor. My neighbor created this pile by shoveling the snow from in front of his garage door so he could more easily access the alley. There was no malicious intent as the pile was not deposited directly in front of our garage door, but it was close enough to our access that I remarked on the Sunday it first appeared, “This is going to be inconvenient”. For the reader’s imagination I must provide the important detail that in the preceding six days prior to the pile’s creation we received approximately two feet of snow, and also the alley in question is fairly narrow with garages on both sides.
I feel it necessary to start from the end of the tale before we explore the two competing narratives that led us to this point. We’ve now reached the end of the week which began with Sunday’s creation of the snow island. I am headed home from an early day of work, full of eager anticipation of my weekend starting before darkness descends from a January sky. The weather had gone from -50+ below zero windchill on Monday to a comparatively balmy 38 degrees with monsoon rains on Friday afternoon. I’d scheduled a pick up at the Oak Park L stop from my wife and daughter as I had no rain gear and didn’t want to get soaking wet in barely above-freezing conditions. We were to go straight from the L stop to the grocery to procure ingredients for that night’s repast. As I walked from the train platform I received a text which is Exhibit A in this case: “Stuck in snow pile in alley”. Knowing that our Toyota 4Runner is an absolute beast in snow I calmly replied with Exhibit B: “Throw in 4low and rock it back and forth”. Exhibit C was my first indication that Friday was, for all intents and purposes, fucked: “Already did that, not moving”. FML. Game face firmly applied to my countenance, I began the walk not of the man who was going to be picked up at the exit of the rain-drenched and snow-buried train stop in the face of my walking peers but rather that of the man who now has to walk home himself with inappropriate gear and an impending death of unknown proportion awaiting me at the finish line. I arrived soaking wet, shivering and ready but unwilling to go to war. Within minutes I was shoveling and clawing snow from around and under my vehicle which was hopelessly dashed upon the shores of the Snow Island of Anthemoessa. My neighbor who unwittingly created this dilemma was already headlong into the battle. Ultimately I was forced to lay down in the soaking wetness and frigid cold of the feet of snow in the filth-ridden alley, and one-handed thrust a flat head shovel repeatedly into the critical mass of snow which served as a hydraulic lift keeping the front tires from making sufficient friction with the ground. I did think to myself as I parried blow after blow into the space beneath the truck frame, “Well I’ll be goddamned if the tens of thousands of push presses I’ve done in the preceding six years of CrossFit-style workouts isn’t paying dividends now!” It is also important to explain that I was in my work clothes at the time. Given the day of the week being Friday I was in jeans, however they were not work jeans but rather my “money jeans” for when you want to be rad yet businessy. Lying face down in alley run-off muck for 20 minutes is not what money jeans sign up for when they enter into your wardrobe service. After this event the jeans may very well be demoted into the work jeans division of my wardrobe army. Ultimately the vehicle was freed. I drove to the grocery store looking like a demonic golden retriever just rescued from a frozen pond.
In the first narrative you will be led to believe that the crashing of the car upon Snow Island was completely out of the control of the captain of the ship and merely the result of cosmic forces lining up against her. Much like sea navigators of Greek Antiquity, she was wooed straight into the pile of snow by the Siren song of the sea nymphs who haunted the straits. In later attempts at chronicling the event for history’s sake it was actually put into the permanent record by the captain that the vehicle was “sucked into the snow pile”. It was as though the pile were a spinning planet that created a magnetic vortex of centripetal force so great that four-wheel drive trucks stood powerless against it. The car had in fact been pulled adequately far into the alley, centered straight and true, but was violently sucked into the pile of snow which stood off its port side. The Fates had predetermined that the 4Runner was to be stuck in snow that day and no mere mortal could alter the course mapped out by celestial forces.
In the second narrative you will be presented with an entirely different case, one in which the vehicle’s other co-captain had successfully been avoiding Snow Island for five consecutive days. The argument will be made that if you are cognizant of the pile of snow and do not cut any corners upon garage exit while driving away straight and true you will have no issues. This sober telling of events does not entertain notions of Snow Island possessing its own gravitational force stronger than gas appropriately fed into large engine which applies drive chain force to solid four-wheel base, a base further strengthened by new tire purchase in autumn. This captain knows to put wax into the ears of his crew and have himself firmly tied to the mast as the Sirens try to lull them into a watery grave. This story is admittedly much less interesting than the first as it holds no place for cosmic forces or snow fairies creating havoc that the captain is powerless against. Cold, hard, brute and boring physics govern this tale of avoiding common winter obstacles. Boo this man though you may, he gets you to the church on time (church on time).
Now we come to the lesson learned from all of the above intrigue. After the truck was emancipated from Snow Island I sat in the captain’s chair dripping wet, freezing cold, and stewing in a thick, savory pot of murderous rage. I was rehearsing in my mind various calculated remarks about how I’d managed to avoid this obstacle successfully for a week, observations on women drivers in general, and of course some comments about how I’d dressed perfectly for the occasion that would have been dripping in sarcasm in excess of my person dripping with rain. The goal was simple; take a lousy afternoon and roll it into a ruined evening. What man isn’t good at that? And then it hit me like a lightning strike of accumulated wisdom. Fuck it. What would be the point of throwing gasoline on these smoldering ashes? What is to be gained, other than making myself feel like a clever asshole of course? Nothing. The last hour is fucked but the entire night does not have to be. No amount of condescension and passive-aggressive buffoonery is going to un-fuck what already happened. The issue ceases to exist and the problem is solved, regardless of how it happened. I began to breathe and even spoke. I never delivered my technical breakdown of fault, despite having it graphed out in my brain, with 3-D Technicolor pie charts. Let this be a lesson to all the young bucks out there about to trade in their freedom for a life built upon the foundation of a million tiny lost battles. Shut your fucking mouth and you’ll be a lot happier. Are you a blubbering pussy who has no heart, no balls, a coward who likely has man tits? Absolutely you are. But at least you are relaxed.