(Brief re-plug: If you’re idly hanging around Providence, Rhode Island tonight — and let’s face it, we’ve all been there — consider stopping by Books on the Square for our Mug of Woe live reading, book signing and mortifiedness-talking-about session. It’s sure to be a hoot.
Maybe a hoot and a half. But no promises. Your hooting may vary.)
In related news, I’m driving to Providence, Rhode Island this afternoon. Which means I’m putting my life in the cold, emotionless hands of my GPS system. Which tends to never go well. Ever.
“I have approximately the navigational acumen of a dismembered bat. Or a dismembered anything, come to think of it.”
Not that there’s anything I can do about it. I have approximately the navigational acumen of a dismembered bat. Or a dismembered anything, come to think of it. The particular species in question is less important, once you’ve lopped off a head or two.
The point is, I know that Providence is south of here, and I could probably — on a clear day, with a compass, a star chart and a Google Map taped to my forehead — figure out which direction I should point the car. But if that direction happens to lead down a one-way street, through a city park or into the Atlantic Ocean, then so be it. I point once. That’s all I got.
So I rely — heavily — on the GPS to get me around to destinations I don’t know. Like this bookstore. Or Providence. Or Rhode Island, for that matter. Sure, I’ve been there. But it’s Rhode Island. Blink, and you’re in New Jersey or some such state. You practically need a magnifying glass to pinpoint it.
My wife, on the other hand, is a different story.
(In terms of relying on the GPS, that is. Not in needing a magnifying glass to see her. I have no comment on that topic.
Because I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to say in that situation, so whatever side I fall on will be wrong. Stupefyingly, reprehensibly, possibly divorcingly wrong. So, no comment on anything involving my wife and magnifying lenses of any sort. Not even binoculars.
These are really the sorts of things they should cover in the “So You Found Yourself a Bride” handbook. But they don’t. Pity.)
My wife does not rely on our GPS. In fact, she’s rather stubbornly resistant to using the GPS, under any circumstances. Which is fine, if we’re traveling somewhere familiar. I ask if she knows how to get there, she says ‘yes‘, I say ‘okay, you’re driving and best of luck with that‘ and I sit in the passenger seat fiddling with the radio and A/C knobs for the whole trip. Everybody’s happy.
(Ish. Happyish. Possibly a little frozen and ‘goddamned tired of Marcy stupid Playground already’, apparently, but happyish. And isn’t that what marriage is all about?)
When she doesn’t know the way herself, then we’ve got problems. Big problems. Because there are only so many configurations of the two of us plus directions in the car that are feasible.
One that isn’t, under any circumstances? Me driving, and her giving directions. I’ve mentioned this before. My instincts suck, and something about being in a car but not driving turns my wife — my driven, brilliant, focused, dogged wife — just a mite flighty.
A map in her lap does us no good if she’s staring at birds out the window and we should have turned six miles ago.
So if I’m driving, I need the GPS. Only she doesn’t like to use it — which means, as often happens in a coupleship, that WE don’t like to use it. When WE are driving. Either of WE. Which means no GPS. Which means, I’m not driving.
So, she usually drives when we’re ‘exploring’. Fine. I’m a good map reader. I’ll navigate the living pants off a route for you. Shortcut here, back way to the turnpike there, let’s cut through this subdivision to save time, take a left, take a right, third exit in the roundabout, Bob’s yer uncle, done. No problem.
But do I get a map to navigate from? No. That would be too easy.
Instead, my wife does what she’s comfortable with — nothing wrong with that — and looks up the destination on Google Maps or some other such online route running service. And she copies down the directions in her adorable precious shorthand, and from those notes, she’ll know precisely where she’s going.
If she’s the one reading the notes.
But she’s not. She hands them to me. Rendering me roughly as useless as if I were behind the wheel, because my only source of information is now three lines of legal-ruled paper with directions like:
‘L on Terrace, Tpk ent. 2.1m — left, 2 exit; 3 r, #207‘
I could maybe — maybe — open a safe with that. No way in hell can I get to somebody’s house. Not in this lifetime. She can do it, and bless her little heart. But since I’m reading it, I don’t even know what to tell her. She’ll ask ‘what’s next?‘, and I’m reduced to guessing off an incomplete translation:
‘Uh… take the 2nd exit? Or exit 2? Maybe it’s an ‘S’. Exits? Should we maybe split the car in half, and take both at once?‘
These translations, needless to say, are not appreciated. But neither is having to navigate using 16th century technology when a newfangled global positioning syscalcumalator is sitting idly two feet away, wondering why the hell we didn’t take a left way back on Torrance, because I can’t read her stupid handwriting.
Her stupid, adorable, precious handwriting.
So life, as always, grows more and more complicated. Because that’s what it does.
But tonight, I’m driving solo. Just me, the GPS, and my beheaded-bat lack of navigational prowess. So wish me luck — and no handwritten directions — to speed my way toward the bookstore in Providence.
One satellite glitch, and I’ll wind up in Vermont. They’ve got bookstores there, too, right?