June 09, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Airport

Morning Workout
3100 meters, 3000 of which were done without stopping

Random Comments: As you know, I’ve been smack dab in the middle of the Suck phase of training. My bike rides have been horrendous and my runs have been painfully mediocre. As a result, I decided to play the sane card and take the rest of the week off from training. And when I say “take the week off” I mean it in the most triathlete-esque way. Which is to say that I’ve been working out for about one hour each day, an amount most normal people would consider pretty darn active, and one most triathletes consider just short of Crazy Glued to the couch with an IV of Pabst Blue Ribbon dripping into your veins and a continuous drizzle of potato chip crumbs dropping from your unshaven face. Not wanting to spend too much time on the bike during these so-called relaxing days, I’ve found myself splashing around in the pool a bit more than expected. And, slap-me-across-the-face-and-call-me-Mary, but all the swims I’ve been having this week have been pretty darn good. Or, as I like to say, they’re as good as swimming gets for me. Take today’s 3000 meters, for instance (which only got bumped up from my planned 2000 meters because Cat said she was going to swim 3000 and, well, that kinda motivated me). As you can imagine, swimming that long in a pool can get pretty challenging. In a nutshell, it’s hellishly boring. And the thing is, there isn’t even that much time to let your mind wander into nothingness, because you’ve got to keep counting your laps. If your mind wanders you lose count, and if you lose count, you have to go back to the last lap number you remember finishing, and when you do that you usually end up swimming a lot more laps than you are supposed to – or want to, for that matter – and your finishing time doesn’t reflect how fast it really takes you to swim 3000 meters in the first place. But today, my friend, everything was good. Consistently, unflailingly good. I like that in a workout. Dare I say, but perhaps I'm finally leaving the Suck phase...

Cat’s car has been rattling something fierce for the past few months. It seems to have been coming from the rear of the car but I haven’t been able to figure out the exact location. I’ve looked under the car a few times to examine it all because, well, I’m a man and that’s what we do. But, understanding that I barely know the difference between a distributor cap and a gas cap, my under-car kanoodling simply resulted in a few random harrumphs and mumblings. You definitely need to bring it in and get it checked out, I’d say in a definitive way, knowing very well that I could’ve said the same words with the same authority without having to first lay down on the dirty road and suck in the car’s exhaust.

Can you help me bring it in tomorrow? Cat would ask me
Tomorrows no good, I’d say. I’ve got a day of meetings. How about the next day?
Can’t do it then, she’d shake her head. Not enough time.
And so it would go, rattling on until we found ourselves right here, months later and nothing fixed.

I’m flying to New York today. In fact, I’m on the plane as I type this. Cat tried to drive me to the airport but that didn’t seem to work out so well. We hadn’t gotten but a few miles on our way when the normal rattling in Cat’s car suddenly escalated to an obscene clanking. Either somebody quickly tied a bunch of “Just Married” cans to the back of the car or we’re in deep trouble, I thought to myself. I looked back. Nope, no “Just Married” cans. We’re in trouble.

Has this crazy rattling been happening for long? I asked.
No, she said tensely. It just started right now.
Ah, that’s not good. Why don’t we pull to the side of the road and I’ll take a look, I said in my very manly way as I pointed towards the closest curb.

As she pulled to a stop I got out of the car and assumed my usual macho position, laying flat on my back under the tail of the automobile, gazing incredulously at the back of the wheel and all the rusted out parts under there. Nothing looked out of the ordinary to me. That is to say, I didn’t see any big arrows with flashing neon lights saying something like This Part Is Broken, Don’t Drive Any Further.

I got back in the car, harrumphed and mumbled. I couldn’t see anything, I said, why don’t we try driving slowly.

Not but a few feet down the road the rattling started again. After some quick thinking, we decided to take my car instead. Cat turned the rattling auto around and we started driving very slowly back to my place. I looked out the sideview mirror as we drove, nervous about that shaking, hoping I could sense anything happening back there. Lo and behold, I did. The rear tire was wobbling madly like a spinning plate on a bamboo stick that’s about to crash to the floor in a million little pieces (I just plagiarized those last four words from James Frey. That’ll show him, the little such and such)

Holy shit! I said staring more closely at the wheel gone wild.

It was about that time that I heard a very large CLANK! RATTLERATTLE and gazed behind the car to see a fairly significant looking bolt fall out and bounce it’s way down the street.

Uh, honey… why don’t we pull over. A big bolt just fell out from the car and that’s probably not that good.

I got out of the car and ran back down the road to pick up the bolt. After all, I thought, maybe I can jam it back into place and then, well, the car would be all nice and fine. I’d be the brilliant macho mechanic and we can drive calmly to the airport. Problem solved.

Unfortunately life is not that easy. I grabbed the bolt, then lay back down in my usual position underneath the back of the car. I gazed around looking for answers. The flashing neon sign was still not there but, almost by accident, I found out where the bolt had fallen from. It’s called the suspension. Now, thanks to my superior mechanical genius, I realized that this 3 inch bolt which fell off the car would probably create a lot safer ride if it were back in the car. In fact, it appears that the bolt was holding the rear wheel together. Through a very intricate process of deduction that could only be accurately explained to similarly mechanically inclined people as myself, I’d realized that it’s probably not good to drive this car any further. I climbed out from under the car and with nary a harrumph or mumble, heroically said, It’s not looking good, honey. The bolt fell from the thingy and it looks pretty serious. You need to get the car to your mechanic.

So as Cat called AAA to get her car towed, I pulled my suitcase out of the car and dragged it down the road to the closest hotel where I hopped in a taxi and high-tailed it to the airport.

I thank the Lord herself that Cat wasn’t driving down the highway when this happened. But fortunately, due to my unprecedented automotive know-how, I saved my girlfriends life. And now all is back to normal in Metropolis.

I guess now I’ll have to come up with a good superhero name for myself... Hmmm, Automaton. I like that one. Is that taken?