Friday afternoon. I'm relaxing at Starbucks, enjoying an iced-quad-venti-two-pumps-vanilla-light-ice latté. Well earned, too! After a great time in the batting cages, I hit the gym for the first day of the New Workout Routine. (Lunges carrying two twenty pound dumbells! Oh! My! God!)
My cellie explodes.
It's the Baron.
I've been helping the Baron bivouac from his soon-to-be-former abode in Center City up to his new digs. It's been taxing, shall we say. The Baron, you see, is a collector. Specializing in what is known as "ephemera." If you find yourself wondering what kind of graphic design Chip Duckett was favoring in promoting his party at the Limelight in 1991, be sure to check in with the Baron, who has a copy of the invite that was passed out. Or, perhaps, several dozen copies. Y'see, if the Baron finds an interesting article in The Welcomat, a free Philadelphia weekly published in the late 'Eighties, the Baron felt compelled to round up as many copies of them as possible. As a result, the soon-to-be-former-abode of the Baron is packed to the rafters with paper. Once the piles of back issues of Interview and Spy and Philadelphia Gay News completely covered the door of the closet, the Baron never went in to the closet anymore.
Collecting is an interesting obsession to indulge in a good friend like the Baron. Until you have to help him move. Then it becomes a matter of, "I don't even want to know just what is in this really heavy box that I'm sweating and straining to lug downstairs."
And if you have any doubts that the gods have a sense of humor, consider the fact that the Fates ordained that the Baron and I would be friends. I, the minimalist, who loves to Throw Crap Away and lies awake at night wondering how I could have less. And the Baron, who squeals with delight when he finds that some Fool has put out on the curb a box of promotional materials for a gallery opening rendered unuseable by a printing error and carts the entire lot home.
Felix and Oscar had nothing on us.
So back to me on the porch of Starbucks.
My cellie explodes.
It was the Baron.
He needed my help.
With The Move.
He has to be out by Monday. He wasn't where he hoped he would be. I was planning on coming down to help him schlep on Saturday, but he needed my help on Sunday, too.
That, of course, would mean missing softball.
I was furious.
Miss softball??? He wanted me to miss softball??? Does he not know who I am?
I was petulant the way a little boy might be petulant having a favorite toy snatched away from him. I called the coach of the Ball Breakers and gave the bad news.
So yesterday, I headed down to meet up with the Baron to help him move. On the drive down, I noticed that my spedometer seemed to have stopped working. The needle was pointing to zero as I was flying down Route 309.
Huh. That's odd.
I picked up the Baron, and, followed by the Baron's sister, we headed down to Center City to pick up a load of paper. Not ten blocks from the Baron's, on Stenton Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia, my Jeep Liberty stalled.
I turned the key in the ignition, it started up again, but it wouldn't take.
Something was wrong.
With the help of a kind passerby, we pushed it over into a parking spot. The Baron called his sister who was there on the double. We called a towtruck, and my Jeep Liberty is now at a service station in Flourtown, PA. They won't be able to take a look at it until Monday, of course. I'm hoping that they'll call and cheerfully report that my battery cable was loose and they tightened it up and I can pick it up any time and by the way the charge will be $2.79. But that won't be the case.
So many story arcs came together there sitting on the sidewalk on Stenton Avenue waiting for the towtruck, it was like the final episode of Heroes.
There was the Baron and his move. But there was also my reduced financial circumstances. And then there was the fact that when I bought the Jeep, I paid for an extended warrantee that had me good up to 90,000 miles, and my odometer read 90,549. And while sitll at my Previous Place of emPloyment, I had been thinking that come Spring, I'd see about trading in the Jeep and getting a new car, but of course that can't happen because I couldn't get a new car without a paycheck coming in. I had a date planned on Monday, taking a hot boy from Queens to the beach. And then there's just the whole thing about my automotive cluelessness that makes me feel soooo fragile when dealing with mechanics (I can benchpress 225! I can weld! I once won a cow milking contest! I can throw a twelf foot bullwhip with pinpoint accuracy! I've read Rimbaud in the original french! I make a great meatloaf! Please don't take me to the cleaners because I couldn't change a fuel filter if my life depended on it.)
And of course, this means until I get my car back, I'll be driving my deceased stepmother's white Ford Taurus. (So. Not. Me.) That's the car that left me stranded by the side of a highway at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve with an eighty-five year old woman in the passenger seat and no cell phone.
Throughout it all, I was calm, cool, and collected. (The Baron and his sister were mightily impressed by just how calm, cool, and collected I was.)
But of course, I'm comforted by one thought.
Today, Sunday, although I'm not up in NYC playing softball, I'm also not helping the Baron move.