First, a moment of silence for the Hustler. It had a good run, and I’ll always regret not learning to drive it. Oh, how I will miss its unique character – popping out of fourth gear at every opportunity, the compromised security of its tailgate lock, the spastic tachometer, and the distinctive rustic profile it maintained proudly at every parking lot, not to mention its use as a mildly offensive conversation piece. It’s now in the palliative care of ICBC, nursing its cracked gas tank and crumpled bumper.
My pride, I suppose, is also a write-off, as I stepped out of the truck last Sunday morning, covered in pancake batter.
When I say covered in batter, I mean covered. From head to toe.
We were coming to a stop at the bottom of a slick hill, on our way to make up some pancakes for about 100 folk at church. A fundraiser. A good idea – and of course, I thought the safest thing to do with a giant pot of goo would be to put it on my lap for the drive. That way, I could keep it from spilling.
When I was little, my family and I watched loads of kids’ movies – the kind where the villain falls into a pile of mud, trips into a cake, has the paint cans spill on his/her dastardly head, or gets sprayed by the fire extinguisher, as the heroes escape with the treasure, the puppies, or the letter that needs to be mailed to Santa.
In Sunday morning’s mini-movie, (slippery hill, brake failure, rear-ender, not our fault), I was that villain, covered in goo.
My husband was the hero – painstakingly cleaning out the truck before we knew it was a goner, (we didn’t notice the gas tank leak until the afternoon).
I’ve always wanted my life to be more like the movies. I just never thought I’d be cast as the tragic/comic relief. I was thinking more along the lines of dramatic heroine, good-hearted, moral crusader, or undiscovered princess.
But here I am, the clown. For every time this week I’ve told the epic story of the Pancake Peril, someone has had a great laugh, and I’ve giggled along with them. Even my pastor (as he freely admits) chuckled “very unpastorally” at our latest mishap.
In fact, some of my dearest friends have become so through my comic incidents.
Believe me, I’ve had some truly deeply awkwardly moments. From peeing on my shoes (in university!) to accidentally vacuuming my lacy underwear into the central cleaning system and clogging it up entirely, to inadvertently showing a ferry-load of passengers my granny underwear while enjoying the bracing breeze…each moment of excruciating personal misfortune has either been witnessed by someone who came to my rescue and became a friend, or shared as a story in retrospect that allowed me to bond with someone instead of appearing distant and ‘together.’
My other major role these days, is as Pollyanna. Considering my penchant for cynicism so carefully cultivated in university, it’s a surprise part for me, but one that I’m warming up to.
So let me lay down some bright sides to this latest unfortunate incident – I’ve been able to get through lay-offs, bug infestations, house fires, car crashes, illnesses, toenail terrors and bad days at work just by looking more closely at the details behind the calamity.
We invited folk over to eat the remaining pancakes, and I got the chance to connect again with a dear, dear friend and her sweet boyfriend, who I’d never met before.
My husband and I got to come home and have a day off together.
I don’t have to learn how to drive standard! (Yet).
Our old rusted truck gave us back, through its demise, more than we paid for it – and who knows how long its structurally unorthodox carriage would have lasted, and what a loss we could have taken on it.
We’re safe, and uninjured.
And now I know what it’s like to be covered in pancake batter, a thing I idly wondered about as we drove happily along to church, just before we were smacked.
It’s not actually that bad. Sticky, surprising, and food for thought.