Didn't See that Coming

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Driving nervously in the almost-fast-lane of the freeway, Dalia tried to relax.  On her way to Bella’s bridal shower at the ex-in-laws home, she wondered how she would stay positive through the whole afternoon.  She felt these people didn’t like her.  They didn’t care.  Dalia needed to appear relaxed, confident, and above all, cool. 

“Find a way to focus Dalia” she thought.  What to do. What to do.  It was more of a soft command than a question.  Ah, yes.  Think of a joke.  It had to be something relatable.  Maybe something about today.  About life.  About cars and drivers and freeways.  Eyes darting from front to side to mirror to front to other side to front to mirror, she caught mind-glimpse-pictures of little things happening all around her. 

“That billboard.  It’s about, oh damn, I’m driving too fast to read it.  Why do they do that?  Fewer words people!”  Dalia thought maybe she should change lanes, merge into the slower lane so she could take in more.  But those drivers are so slow.  Almost creeping along.  Creepy along.  Little chuckle.

Dalia merged into the slower, but not slowest lane, and felt her blood pressure go down just a little.  Maybe there was something to be said for driving in the slower lanes.

Still looking for stories.  Jokes.  Oh, look what that guy just did.  “What’s he doing?  Maybe I should try to get closer and, oops!  Didn’t see that car coming.” 

There it was.  The beginning of the joke.  “Didn’t see that coming.”  It’s not only the beginning of a joke, but a well-known phrase.  It could be used for so many things.   

Events and words and the very best joke now taking shape in Dalia’s head.  Scenes jumping from one car, one driver to a sign on the road, to the passenger in another car.  To Dalia.  How she reacted.  How they reacted.  “Oh, this is getting good” Dalia said.  Yes, out loud.  How else do people talk to themselves while creating?  That thought could be part of the joke.

And she had it!  Laughing out loud at the absurdity of the joke.  The reactions of everyone involved in the almost hilarious joke.  “Hahahahahahaha! That is perfect!”  Yes, Dalia said it out loud.  She had to remember this.  This was a keeper.  “Oh, my gawd.  This is so good.”

Laughing more and feeling darned proud of herself, Dalia realized her exit was coming up, so she slowed down and began navigating again.  ‘Go left, turn left again at the place, and make a U-turn about half a block up to the building by the other place.  Slow down and turn right.  It’s there on the right.  This is the end of the navigation.  Park your car. Good-bye.’ 

Heavy sigh.  Not just for the drive from her house to this one or circumnavigating through crazy streets and drivers and thoughts. The sigh was for what was to come.  In that house.  With those people.  Now.

Climbing out of the car, Dalia went through the basic checklist:

  • Is my makeup OK?  Looking at the reflection in the window she checked this off as OK.
  • Is my hair OK?  Same reflection, same window, same ‘OK’.
  • Stretch.  Ahhh … Done.
  • Deep breath.  And now a second one.  Done.
  • Time to go inside.  Doing.

Waiting for the door to be answered.  Mind moving memories around, filing some into crevices, trying without success to delete others.  “Why are we even here?  What’s life all about?  Do grasshoppers ever wonder about their lives or why they were born to hop?  Why am I thinking about grasshoppers?  Why not dogs or cats?  Am I preprogrammed to think about insects when making important decisions?  Is my hair OK?  I’m thirsty.” 

Minds can be hard things to shut off when you’re waiting at the door of the Ex’s.  And there are so many Ex’s in life.  The list gets longer with each passing day. The X-List. X-files!  Maybe another joke there.

Chuckling, Dalia started thinking about the funny joke on the way over.  And the door opened.

There’s an old saying that when one door closes, another door opens.  It works in reverse, too.  When one door opens, another closes.  See how that works?  The open door gave way to the beginning of a new 3- or 4-hour adventure.  A memory that will last years.  Not all of it.  Not every single minute.  But flashes.  Those remain.  Just flashes.

Smiling.  Hi everyone!  So good to see you.  You look amazing!  How do you do it?  Wow, look how tall they are.  They grow so fast, don’t they?  What have you been doing?  The house is lovely.  Who is responsible for the decorations today?  The food smells great.  Yes, thank you, I would love a glass of wine.  Yes, white.  Not sweet, but if that’s all you have, I’ll love it.

The bridal shower went well.  Laughing.  Drinking and eating.  Opening presents and being very surprised at all of them.  Brides are always so happy and thankful.  Their new life is going to be wonderful, and everyone wishes them well.  They are marrying their prince.  They will live happily ever after.  Hard times?  Not us.  OK, maybe, but we will get through.  Yes, you will.  Just stay on the road.  Or at least come back to the road if you find yourself detouring to somewhere else to do something else.  Or something.

Second glass of wine.  Dalia knew she needed to drink water or juice from here on out.  The drive home.  Drives home are almost always faster than the drives to, depending on traffic.  There is no trying to navigate to a new, never-before seen place.  It’s auto pilot.  Brain functions on auto.  But not all brain functions.

Rehashing scenes from the shower as she drove home, Dalia felt melancholy.  “Grasshoppers.  Yes, grasshopper.  That is your quest.  Go forth and beat the hell out of those meanies.  Here.  Take my sword.”  Fun show.  Not everyone remembers who Grasshopper was.

Dalia drove and felt happier going home than she had earlier in the day.  Didn’t care about hair or makeup.  “Screw me if they can’t take a joke!  Wait a minute … that’s not right.” 

Dalia thought about the joke she created, yes created, on the way to the shower.  “Chuckle city”, she laughed.  “Let’s see, how did that begin?  Uh, was it with the blue car?  No.  Then what?”  No amount of racking her brain, going through each step of the drive-to was bringing the joke back.  The hilarious joke.

Dalia’s mood went from melancholy to shock to despair, and then took a hard right turn into the garage of disbelief.  “I cannot believe this!  It was so funny.”  Despair came back.  “It was so funny.”

It was one more thing Dalia didn’t see coming.  The vanishing joke. 

Oh well.