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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!

You Can Play, But You Can Never Win

This morning, I entered an emasculation contest.

Well Not “entered“, precisely. “Was chucked into” is more like it. I imagine that’s how emasculation contests usually go; nobody enters them willingly. Like marathons, probably.

Anyway, there’s some question as to whether I or this other guy should have felt worse about himself, cried his way back home and crawled under the covers. Me, or him? I don’t know — you decide.

Contestant #1: Yours Truly

Over the weekend, it snowed maybe two or three inches around Boston. I didn’t need my car, so I left it in the parking lot. Resting. Stewing. And evidently, freezing.

So this morning, with the workday looming, I took my trusty windshield scrapery thing and cleared off the car. I got in, turned it on, blasted the heater, threw it into reverse and moved… nowhere. Spinny wheels. Smell of rubber. Mild shame.

I stepped out and investigated the wheel situation. There was a little snow, sure. But nothing I hadn’t powered through or rocked over or peeled accidental sideways donuts around before. My car is great in the winter. I never get stuck. That stuff is for hybrids and “sports coupes” and no-wheel-drive BMWs.

(Seriously, with the Beemers. It’s like the Germans refuse to believe snow even exists.)

“Jack Frost wasn’t yanking my flywheel, so far as I could tell. And I think I would notice that. I’m just saying.”

So I dug a little with my windshield brush, and tried again. And again. And again. I got a couple of feet, but the wheels just refused to grip. And I couldn’t see why. There was no snowdrift behind me. No puddles of grease under the wheels. Jack Frost wasn’t yanking my flywheel, so far as I could tell. And I think I would notice that. I’m just saying.

Anyway, it went downhill from there. A pretty brunette lady came driving into the lot, parked in the spot she’d clearly cleaned out earlier, and asked if I needed some help. I said, no thanks. She claimed to not know too much about getting unstuck, but offered, and I quote:

But I’m Canadian, and I’m fearless.

Which is a phenomenal pickup line. But it doesn’t get a Nissan on the street. I thanked her and went back to my scraper-scooping.

She went into her apartment building, then poked her head back out to ask if I wanted to borrow a real shovel.

Less optimal, as a pickup line. And little help to me, since there really wasn’t any significant snow to shovel in the first place. Just an inch or two of ice that shouldn’t have stopped a skateboard, much less my usually-Arctic-exploring vehicle.

But it did. I kept at it for another ten minutes, until another guy came out to try pushing me out. I got another two feet before thanking him, calling it quits and rolling back into my parking spot. Partly, I was worried I’d get into the middle of the lot, get stuck and ruin things for everyone else. Like a BMW driver.

(But mostly, the guy who was helping me was European, and I couldn’t place his accent. Also, I couldn’t go any further without bad-mouthing BMWs, and got worried he might be German.

Besides, snarking on German engineering just seems fundamentally wrong. That’s like bagging on American consumerism or Brazilian crotch haircuts. Just… wrong.)

So I gave up and took a cab to work. And was thus introduced to:

Contestant #2: The Cabbie

I found a cab, and asked the guy to take me to the Cambridgeside Galleria, in Cambridge. Not because that’s where I was going — but it’s close to where I was going, and it’s a spot everyone around here knows.

(Because it’s a mall. See: ‘Consumerism, American’.)

He didn’t know it. Blank look. Running meter. I tried again.

This mall — and also my nearby office — is in Kendall Square in Cambridge. Next to Harvard Square — that’s where Harvard is, kiddies — it’s the best-known area of Cambridge. So that would get us moving.

Except he’d never heard of it. Fine. Just take me over the B.U. Bridge, and I’ll get us there.

He looked at me with the innocent guileless eyes of a newborn puppy. A puppy who had no idea what a “B.U. Bridge” is.

What a B.U. Bridge is, in fact, is a bridge just a few blocks away, and which connects the campus of Boston University to Cambridge, which is just across the river. Which the bridge crosses. To Cambridge. Where I wanted to go.

He shrugged. So I took him, turn by turn, to the destination, like an infinitely patient backseat GPS. Only let’s face it, better.

“In 300 feet, go left.”

“Take the second right, where that red car is.”

“This yellow light lasts a while — gun it. GUN IT!”

So I made it to work, finally. But did I win the contest? Who’s the bigger dink here — the guy who couldn’t get out of the parking lot over an inch of ice, or the cabbie who’s never heard of anything in the city he’s driving?

I’m pretty sure I know the answer. Because somebody got that stupid cab out of the lot this morning.


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