We said we would laugh about it later, both of us a tad uncertain how long it might take for the experience to become funny.
So begins this, a true story.
Though it reads like the tallest of tales.......
Commemorating our January wedding anniversary in the high style it deserves presents the occasional problem, as the weather rarely cooperates in celebratory fashion. I suppose, ideally, we should take off for warmer climes, fly away from the grey skies of home to relax on a pink sand beach, cradling fancy little drinks in our pale little hands as we await Swedish massages and dinners that end with creme brulee. We have indeed done just that several times. More realistically however, we usually opt for a nice dinner out, swaddled in coats and scarves and often dodging icy raindrops enroute. Over the past couple of years, we have enjoyed anniversaries en famille, with both Edward and Apple coming along for the celebration, usually a hike in the woods or an outing at the lake. One such trip occurred two years ago, with decidedly unexpected results.
Our anniversary fell on a Sunday that year and we had headed out to one of our favourite destinations, a lovely, rather romantic, garden setting a couple of hours from town. It was a beautiful day, graced with the most salubrious sort of weather, especially for a January. We had a marvelous time, all four of us, following winding trails in the winter sunlight, sipping hot cocoa by the glassy lake. Eventually, the light turned to mauve and dusk was upon us, so we all headed to the car, the four of us tired and happy and ready for our dinners. Little did we know, much like the fabled musician who fiddled away during the burning of Rome, as we were frolicking in the woodland, there in the parking lot, unbeknownst to us, our car had expired.
Blithely unaware as we were, we turned the key and immediately discovered our trusty Passatt overheating in a way that cars are just not supposed to do. Slowly, slowly, we coasted out of the gardens, hoping to make it to help, all the while well aware that Sunday evening in the middle of nowhere was not the best time or place to find it.
The only establishment open in town was Little Piggies, a restaurant whose very name was a certain hindrance to any female appetite. We pulled in and The Songwriter ventured inside, leaving me with the dogs, who were attempting to remind me, through piercing, focused stares, that their own dinnertimes were fast approaching. The Songwriter soon returned with an address of a “hobby” mechanic scrawled on the back of a greasy menu, and we limped away down the road.
Turning into the man’s driveway a few seconds later, my heart, which had been teetering on the edge of fear, much like Humpty Dumpty atop his wall, finally fell with a thud. A more vividly Southern gothic scene could not have been imagined. We bounced along in the ruts of the drive, past an enclosure full of slack-jawed bloodhounds, and came to a pitiful halt in front of a faded old barn on which a homemade sign bore the words - written in red and in such tiny letters they practically screamed for a psychoanalyst’s interpretation - ”cash only and no checks from wachovia bank”.
No one was in sight, but I had the distinct feeling that we were being watched. Sure enough, Edward and I turned to look to our right and discovered a herd of donkeys placidly gazing our way from their place in a pen by the barn, their dull expressions perfect pictures of asinine ennui. Of course, Edward immediately told Apple to look (!), and the chorus of barks and growls than ensued was deafening.
As we sat there, in the dying car, in the total darkness, in the freezing cold, hours from home, on our wedding anniversary, waiting for a “mechanic” we’d never clapped eyes on, questions naturally arose. What if he didn’t show up. What if he couldn’t fix the car. What if he turned out to be a homicidal maniac who intended to eat us for dinner. The dogs were quiet. They knew this was serious.
To be continued on Saturday night......