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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Automotive Asininery

Awright, let’s get this over with. Earlier today, I mentioned that I was a dumbass last night. Or a ‘cluetard’, or ‘douchebag’, or whatever I called it.. The point is that I was kind of an idiot, and I promised to describe it to you. So, despite all those little voices telling me that you really don’t need to know, here’s the story:

Last night, I went to a comedy show down in Dorchester.

(And taped it — keep an eye out for the clip, if that’s the kind of thing that perks up your nipples. Perv.)

Now, I drove there straight from work, which is not uncommon. I often go into the office late, so I work late, and the workday sometimes butts ass-up against the standup sessions. Fine.

There are a couple of other details you should probably know, before I go further with the story, though. First, a couple of summers ago, I broke my car key off my key ring, in a freak keychain-dropping accident on the way to a Red Sox game.

(It’s a long story — follow the link, if you don’t believe me. Hey, I wouldn’t kid about something like that.)

Also, as I’ve mentioned at least once before, I’m not really a ‘coat wearer’, generally speaking. Down to twenty degrees or so, I’m willing to risk frostbite and hypothermia for the convenience of not having to lug a heavy coat around with me. Maybe that makes me crazy. And maybe I’m crazy for completely different reasons; I don’t know. But when the weather permits — and I have a very broad definition of ‘permits’, in this case — I go coatless.

Well, yesterday, the weather was nothing approaching ‘permitting’. There was snow on the ground, fierce swirling winds, and bitter, icy, shrinkage-inducing cold. My testicles were hanging around in the vicinity of my lungs, trying to stay warm.

So, I wore a coat. From the house to the car, and the car to the office. And, when I was ready to leave for the comedy show, from the office to the car. Here’s where the fun begins, folks. You can perk up now.

As I mentioned, I’m not a ‘coat guy’. So dealing with a coat really isn’t a part of my normal routine, and — here begins the ‘douchebag’ part — I didn’t realize that. So, as I approached the car, I went through my usual gyrations — unlock the car with the keyless remote, fish the orphan car key out of my pocket, take my ID off my belt, so I can use the swipe card to get out of the garage. This is all stuff that I do every day, rain or shine.

But last night, there was an added twist — take off my coat, and hold it so I can put it into the car. For you see, even when I’m forced my Mother Nature — that lousy, persnickety bitch — to wear a coat, I’m never, never, ever going to keep the thing on in the car. It’s too bulky and restrictive, and I end up sitting on it, and getting it tangled with the seatbelt, and it’s just too much bother. So I always remove my coat before getting in the car.

So, see if you can picture this: I’d unlocked the door, and taken off my coat, which I was holding it under my right arm. Meanwhile, I fished my car key out of my pocket with my right hand, and unclipped my ID with my other hand. So when I reached the car, I had the ID in my left hand, and my key and coat in my right hand. Here’s what happened next:

I opened the car door with my left hand.

I swung the door open, took a step back, and tossed my coat into the far seat.

…and, because it was in the same fricking hand, also flung my car key into the car.

So at that point, I could get into the car, which I did. And I could sit in the driver’s seat, which I did. But I couldn’t actually start the stupid car, because the key was nowhere to be found. I heard a *clink* when I threw it, and then nothing. It disappeared from view, somewhere in the interiior.

Now realize, also, that this is around eight in the evening. And I work in an office complex that also houses restaurants, bars, and a dozen other companies. So there are people coming and going and looking and gawking all through the garage, as I sat silently in my driver’s seat, planning my next move. That was pretty embarrassing.

Of course, it wasn’t nearly as embarrassing as my next move, which was to turn on the overhead light in the car, bend ass-up over to the passenger seat, and rummage through the floor to find the damned key. This little endeavor ended up costing me about a half-hour of my life that I’ll never have back, and it didn’t even have the common decency to produce the damned car key. So I sat up, short of breath and with blood rushing to my head, no better off than when I’d started feeling under my seats.

(And frankly, worse off. I really didn’t need to know about — much less fricking touch — the crap that was under the seats in my car. Holy hell, I thought I was going to uncover Hoffa after a while. I may never sleep well again.)

So, I widened my search. I checked under my own seat — nothing. I checked my coat — bupkis. I even got out of the car, in the three-degree weather, and did a perimeter check for the key. That got me nothing but cold ears and more shrinkage. But no damned key.

In desperation, I looked in other places in the car — the map holders on the doors, the cupholders, and the vent holes on the dashboard. If that car had a crevasse within reach, I had my fingers in it — I was like a horny freshman at the single prom, people. Mother fuckin’ thorough, is what I’m talking about.

Finally, after nearly an hour of this ordeal, it struck me to look behind me, and I considered the possibility that the key might’ve somehow gone flying off towared the back seat. Even now, I don’t see how, frankly, but that’s apparently what happened, because I found the damned thing just beside the floor mat, in front of the rear passenger seat. My single brain-farty action had cost me an hour, and almost ruined my whole night.

(Hell, come to think of it, my whole fricking life. I mean, honestly — if I’d have had to call my wife, to come start the car with her key? There’s no hearing the end of that, folks. I’d be ‘dumbass who threw his key away’ for frigging decades after that. And I’m ridiculed enough around here, without giving her that kind of ammo, dammit. No, thanks.)

But was that the end of my automotive assheadedness? No. No, there’s one more act to this wicked little melodrama.

On the way to the show, I stopped off to pick up a sandwich. And I still had the shame and fear and annoyance of the ‘Key Incident’ fresh on my mind, so I was a little… distracted.

So, when I arrived at the club — late, hungry, and wary of my backstabbing brain — I had to do another intricate little dance to get myself inside:

Turn off the heater. Turn off the headlights. Turn the radio down. Collect the sandwich. Grab my soda. Pick up my duffel bag and strap it over my shoulder. Find my hat, and put it on .Navigate my way across the street to the bar. Lock the car with the keyless remote.

No problem, right? Right. And, to my credit, I got through all of those things, no problem.

It was five minutes later, as I was recalling my earlier assheadedness, that I absent-mindedly rummaged through my pockets for my car key. And didn’t find it. I checked both front pockets, both backs, the satchel, and the floor around me. I even took a long, suspicious look at my hands, in case there was something there I just wasn’t processing. But no — no car key. After months and months of hitch-free car key handling, I’d now lost the damned thing twice in one fricking night. Alzheimer’s, how did you find me?

Anyway, it finally occurred to me — after I’d retraced my steps back to the car, and opened the door — that the list above had nothing in it even remotely resembling the two most important steps:

Turn the car off

Remove the key from the ignition

So I got back into the car to find it… still running. Oh, fer crissakes. Locked, to be sure — but purring away like a kitten, with the radio still blaring. How the hell that sort of thing escaped me as I exited, I’ll never know. I am blockhead, hear me roar, apparently.

Okay, so long story ever-so-slightly-less-long, I got back in the car, turned it off, cursed my cluebag brain, and went back into the bar. In retrospect, I’m just glad the car was there when I got back outside. And if I hadn’t just happened to check my poickets for the key? Ugh. I don’t even wanna think about that one.

So, there you go. Perhaps not the most entertaining story in the world, but perhaps you can live it through my eyes. And then rejoice at never having to put up with that sort of muddleheaded mutiny from your own brain. I hope — for your sake, people, I truly hope. That’s the kind of shit they put people in homes for.

Of course, the good news for me is that I won’t be needing a car or a coat for the next three days or so. Why? Well, you’ll just have to tune in tomorrow to read about the exciting news, and the start of another Charlie-Style© adventure. Hey, this ‘cliffhanger’ thing is fun, no? I’ll see you tomorrow, folks — I’m off to bed now. You try and get some sleep, would you? We’ve got a big day ahead of us.

Permalink  |  5 Comments

5 Responses to “Automotive Asininery”

  1. Andy says:

    Now, locking your keys in the car, that’s one thing. But leaving the car running with the radio on… tsk tsk.

  2. sunShine says:

    At least you had a remote entry thingy to unlock the door. I went to the bank one day on my break and was on my cellphone when I got back to the office and I turned off the car but turned the key so I could listen to the radio for a minute. Then I proceeded to get out of the car and lock the door. I locked the keys in the car with the radio running. I had to call hubby to come and unlock my door. How embarrassing!

  3. Elisson says:

    This reminded me of a time when I actually locked my car with the keys inside…and the engine running. I was at the airport meeting a flight, so had no time to run around like an idiot. I ended up getting a coat hanger – from the airport police, no less, who did not bother to check out my ID – and jimmying the lock before someone else came along and stole the car.

    What a maroon. Yeef.

    It’s such a great story, I oughta blog it. Maybe I’ll wait for a slow news day so I can look like a complete fucktard.

  4. zoot says:

    You should put a disclaimer on this site, warning people who are drinking beverages to swallow all contents before proceeding. Else they may end up with a monitor full of iced tea… :-P the ventholes on the dashboard.. too funny. That would have sucked.

  5. #Debi says:

    I once locked my keys in the car in the self-serve car wash. Washed my car, went to get in to drive off, no key. And, since it was the height of summer, there was a line of cars behind me waiting to use the bay. I had to call a friend who worked up the street at a car dealership to come open my door while the people in line scowled at me. That was humiliating enough to be the last time I ever locked my keys in the car. Now it’s like I got OCD or something, making sure I got ’em before shutting the door.

    In an unrelated incident, I once had a brainless young roommate who left her car running while she filled it up with gas. When she went to get in her car, the door was locked. By the time she got someone to open her door for her, she’d idled out almost the entire tank she’d just bought!

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