April 26, 2013


           First, I want to make it completely clear that I am an uncoordinated slob.  That being said, I want to tell you about my recent aquatic adventure.
A friend of mine flew up from Florida and decided that he would teach me how to water ski.  He’s one of those outdoorsy types with an audible tan, who feels that life is incomplete and poorly lived if everyone on the planet doesn’t experience and enjoy standing on two boards while being towed behind a boat flying over the water at 800 knots.
Wet suits donned, my friend (I’ll call him “Asshole”  --  “AH” for short) plunged into the water with me to teach me how to “get up.”  Mind you, I do this every morning with absolutely no instruction from anyone, but I am nothing if not a good sport, so I shrugged, and tried to pay attention.
I followed AH’s instructions to the letter, and he signaled the boat to go.
I was pulled out of my skis, my wetsuit, and my bathing suit!  If I hadn’t let go of the towline when I did, I’m convinced that my skeletal system would have gone bouncing across the water.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, I was maneuvered behind the boat again before I was alert enough to protest.
“GO!” AH shouted.
Off the boat sped.  This time, I got up.
For 1.5 seconds.
Did you know that hitting the surface of the water at high speed feels like kissing the pavement after a jump from a two-story building?
Well, it does.
Luckily, I was in the water, so all the blood washed off almost immediately.  I would have hoped for sharks, but we were in a lake.
The third time I tried, my shoulder dislocated.
The fourth time, I sprained my ankle.
The fifth time, the towline got wrapped around my neck and whipped me back and forth across the water like a twisted game of eenie-meenie-miney-moe.
By the time I got home, after a quick eight-hour stop at the Emergency Room, I went right to bed to recuperate and plan my move to Arizona.


April 19, 2013


            I’m convinced that my car is trying to kill me.
I drive a 1985 Dodge Aries K car (remember those?).  It’s a two-tone . . .gray and rust . . . adorned with a subtle but effective bullet hole motif on the passenger side.  The previous owner was also a bumper sticker fanatic, and I swear they’re the only things holding that heap together.
The first thing to go wrong was the exhaust system.  I got in one morning, and after about two miles, the car filled with huge blue clouds of carbon monoxide.
Then the second thing went.
The windows.
I desperately cranked (yes, manual windows—remember those?), but the handle went round and the window stayed shut.  I leaned over and tried the passenger window, but it was jammed and the crank broke off in my hand.
Meanwhile, my life was flashing before my eyes which, adding insult to injury, was extremely depressing, and I was getting really sleepy.  I pulled over and jumped out, sucking in the fresh air while smoke and fumes lazily drifted out the open door.
“Hey, dummy,” a polite passing motorist called, “don’t you know that smoking is hazardous to your health?”
He drove away, laughing.
I called the local garage to come round with the tow truck.  Two hours later, I was back on the road again, $400 poorer, and had only covered a couple of miles in all that time.
At mile three, a blowout, bearing a startling resemblance to Krakatoa.  I pulled over and got out to take a look.
“”Hey, don’t worry.  It’s only flat on the bottom!”
It was the same guy.  He drove off, laughing again.  Well, I was glad I could bring a little joy into his life before I tracked him down and killed him.
If it’s one thing I know how to do, it’s change a tire.  I had made sure that there was a spare and that it was in good shape before I bought the car, so I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed the jack, and fetched the spare.  In truth, the spare was like new, unlike the collection of rubber streamers that my old tire had become.
Unfortunately, though like new, it was the wrong size for the car.
So, now filthier than Andrew Dice Clay’s mind with a mood rivaling Bea Arthur with PMS, I called the garage again.
“Well, hi there, Ms. Buckingham.  Missed me, huh?”
Oh, God.  Squiggy the Mechanic thinks I’m fabricating excuses to call him.  After a short conversation (he asked me out, I said, “No.”), he sent the truck out once again.
Thirty minutes later, I resumed my journey . . . and for only $75 – the price of a new tire.
This time, I made it six miles before the brakes gave out.
Extricating myself from the car via a hopelessly crumpled door, I checked the concrete Jersey barrier I’d swerved into.  No damage.  Well, it probably wouldn’t sue.
“Woman driver!”  Laughter.  Guess who.
I whipped out my cell phone and called the garage, yet again.
“Hi, it’s . . .”
“Oh, hi, Carson!”  Not only were we suddenly on a first-name basis, but he had recognized my voice, too.  “Rethinking that date?”
“Uh, no.  I’ve very flattered, but I’m quite busy these days.  Sorry.”
“No prob.  What can I do for you now?”
“I need a tow.”
“I thought as much.  Where are you?”
“I managed to get six whole miles this time.”
“Six miles?”
“Yes.  I’m so proud.”
“Well, our limit for a free tow is five miles.”
“Look, I have not spent the morning putting your sister through college to hear things like that!  I have exactly $15 left.  It’s not much, but it’s yours.”
“Towing outside five miles costs $50.”
Well. Squiggy the Mechanic and I went to the movies the next evening.  The only concession was that the loudmouth motorist, who had delivered such helpful comments during my time of distress, happened to be attending the very same film.
I excused myself and went out to the lobby to have a brief chat with the manager about the fellow in the theater who was indecently exposing himself to the children in the audience.  Upon my pointing him out from the back of the theater, he suddenly found himself helped from his seat by two burly concessionaires and unceremoniously deposited on the sidewalk in front of the movie house.
And you know what?  When he got out to his car, all his tires were flat.
Now how do you suppose that happened?


April 5, 2013

I Fought the Laundry and the Laundry Won

            It always seems that I have my worst days when it rains.
The marina where I live has a washer and dryer available for use by the “live-aboards” (those of us who live on our boats – about twenty of us, in all).  However, the washer has been absent ever since the weather got cold enough to worry about pipes freezing.  Typically, they hook it up again at the end of March, but here it is, already April, and still no washer.
My laundry is mounting up, and things are getting ugly.  There have been murmured threats, on the parts of both the socks and the underwear, of plans to attack me in the night if I don’t get them clean pretty soon.  You see, rather than go to an area Laundromat, and have to put up with the screaming kids and the machines that you pay to chew your clothes to ribbons or burn them to unrecognizable ashes, I had just been buying new socks and underwear when I ran out of clean ones.  I learned this trick from a confirmed bachelor, and it was working out pretty well for me.  However, I now had 68 pairs of dirty underwear, and a similar complement of socks, and the natives were getting restless. I was worried enough to began locking my cabin door after nightfall.
Then, lo and behold, this morning I drove by the laundry area and the washer was back!  This caused me to hum merrily on my drive to the office, and to greet my office neighbors with such bonhomie that they were certain I had purchased yet another strange animal, pet addict that I am.  I ended each phone conversation with, “Have a sparkling day!”  I joked with my boss at the water cooler.  In short, I was unbearable.  People are used to the sarcastic, cynical Buckingham, and an obviously happy Buckingham is a Buckingham to be regarded with suspicion and dread.
By the time I closed up shop for the day and headed back to the boat, the sky was looking ominous.
I didn’t care.  I was doing laundry tonight! (Pathetic, isn’t it?)  What convenience!  Not only that, it’s also $1.25 per load cheaper than going to the public “In in one piece, out in several” Laundromat.
I made dinner, cleaned up the galley, grabbed a chair and a whip and some raw meat, and corralled the mountain of dirty laundry.  It took about fifteen minutes and a nasty tee shirt bite on my hand to get it all into the laundry bags, but perseverance and a quick zap with a Taser won the day, and I set out.
By now, it wasn’t just raining.  It was like God had opened a fire hydrant.  After 2.5 seconds, I was drenched to the bone, but on I trudged through the wall of water with grumbling laundry slung over my shoulder, a pocket full of quarters, and a song in my heart.
I stuffed the machine, poured in the soap, clubbed back some aggressive sweatpants, and put the money in the slot.
I pushed it in.
I couldn’t believe it.
I looked at the back of the machine.
There was not a single hose in sight.
I, in a lunatic moment, driven temporarily insane by the joy of the washer’s return, simply assumed that, if the machine was there, SOMEBODY HAD BOTHERED TO HOOK IT UP!
Cursing, I packed up my now Wisk-soaked laundry again and waded back through the monsoon to my boat, the outer hull of which was drier than I would ever be again.  Dumping the sodden, complaining mess in a corner, I stepped into the head (that’s boat-talk for “bathroom”) and toweled off.
And suddenly, it went quiet. 
A little too quiet, if you know what I mean. 
         I poked my head out of the head and glanced at the corner where I had left the laundry.
It was gone!
I threw back the hatch cover and dashed out on deck, only to discover that my laundry had scattered itself all over the dock.  The monsoon was still in full swing.
I guess it had had about enough, and figured that if it couldn’t get washed one way, it’d get washed another.