Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Cleveland Airport Debacle: Still A Warrant Out For My Arrest?

At a happy hour, some fellow moms and I were contemplating the summer travel season and comparing our worst trips ever with kids. Not surprisingly, I won.

We were traveling back east for a family reunion and had a brief stopover in Cleveland. I walked Rory and Henry (then 11 and 9) around the concourse so they could burn off a little energy as they had both been getting really bored and antsy on the plane despite Game Boys and other distractions. In the most crowded part of the concourse full of summer travelers, the always-looking-for-excitement Rory suddenly falls to the ground and pretends, very convincingly, to be having a grand mal seizure.

At first, I just rolled my eyes with annoyance. This was so Rory. But people were yelling for someone to call 911 (no cell phones yet). I knew the ER would never accept a diagnosis of “kid faking grand mal seizure just to annoy mother” (the correct answer) and just let us go. But social workers would almost certainly be in my future if I refused care for him. My stingy HMO was never going to pay for an ambulance ride and extensive emergency room tests which I could easily see running into the thousands. As a divorced working mom, this trip was already a huge financial stretch. We were going to miss our connection and not be able to get another one; flights were running completely full that time of year. And worst of all, we were going to be stranded in Cleveland.

So I was hissing insistently at Rory to get up and the more upset I got, the more he was enjoying it and the more dramatic the “seizure” became. As I look back on it, we all really stayed in character. I hissed, Rory seized, and nine-year-old Henry stood there rolling his eyes and grumbling his signature line: “Why am I related to these people?”

I was terrified that the paramedics would arrive and whisk Rory away. The whole vacation was evaporating before my eyes. So—and I’m really ashamed to admit this, seriously considered leaving it out—I started kicking him. “GET UP NOW!” I demanded.* You can only imagine how aghast people were. “My god, that woman is kicking that poor child!” Finally, just as quickly as he started, Rory got tired of the whole thing and just stood up and smiled, as in “wasn’t that fun?” I can’t remember: Did he bow? Leaving a cluster of incredulous passengers behind us, I grabbed both kids and ran to our gate insisting that we required a pre-board for medical reasons. Which was technically true. I wanted to beat Rory to death and his life was in danger, which is medical if you think about it. I’ve never been so relieved as when that plane took off. But they probably still have a warrant out for me in Cleveland.

(* You should never kick your child, ever.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

**In Memoriam: My Dryer (1973-2015)

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published May 21, 2015]  © 2015 

Last week, my 42-year-old dryer gave up the ghost, mid-load. Worse, I think I killed it. I put a wet heavy blanket in it and turned it on to the high cycle, something I’ve done numerous times before. But under the strain, its aged heart, er, power relay, gave out and it tumbled its last. Services are pending.

Seriously. Major grief going on here.
Now, those who are not pathologically sentimental saps would think of this as an appliance. But this machine and I had become close, especially so during my grueling single mom years. It’s a sad commentary when for a decade, the most stable influence in your life is your dryer.

A 42-year-old dryer is 250 years old in appliance years so I knew this time was coming. Of course, I’ve been thinking that for 30 years now. Amazingly, it had only two repairs in its entire now-ex life: a new gasket around the door in ’87, a motor repair in ’96. While every other appliance in my adult life has precipitously crumped (generally at maliciously inopportune times), the dryer just kept chuntering along, year after year, decade after decade.
I even considered having it repaired, assuming one could even get parts for a 42-year-old dryer. My unsentimental husband Olof rolled his eyes. He doesn’t call me the Grim Weeper for nothing.

Over dinner, I explained to him my attachment to the machine, aside from the fact that it reliably worked. (I can become attached to anything in my house that reliably works.) But my whole adult life tumbled inside that drum: my 70’s bell-bottoms, my ex-husband’s khakis, goobery bibs and tiny socks, kids’ play clothes, filthy tennis shoes, and later on, soccer goalie shirts, grass-stained baseball pants, basketball jerseys, crew uniforms, Olof’s Dockers, tons of towels and a mountain of bedding. Literally thousands of loads. How can you not form an attachment to something that has seen your underwear at its worst?
The dryer was purchased when my ex and I bought this house in 1973 and we went for the all-the-rage new color: avocado green. None of those passé white appliances for us! Of course, we could have gone for the other hot new color, harvest gold, but we liked the way the avocado green matched the equally trendy green shag carpet that was already in the house.

Over the years, people who have seen our avocado green dryer have ridiculed it with “Geesh, that color was hideous.”  News flash, millennials: people coveted this color in 1973. In 2030, those au courant stainless steel appliances will have people cringing. Believe it.
Of course, ever decorating-forward, we also purchased the dryer’s chromatic counterpart, the avocado green washer. Alas, it succumbed in early 1980’s, widowing the dryer at the age of nine (75 in appliance years).

An incident in 1983 almost did the dryer in. My first husband and I had separated days earlier and there was no happiness in my life at the time. My older son, Rory, recently six, ever a barometer for emotional distress in the household, decided to shift the focus. While playing with the hose on the patio, Rory suddenly noticed the dryer vent on the side of the house and decided, for reasons probably best left to him, to stick the hose in it. A dryer full of water was, without saying, an eventuality not covered in my owner’s manual. I bailed it out but was still afraid to turn the dryer on. I had visions of becoming the subject of one of those consumer safety shows where they pan up to the charred remains of my house as the commentator intones in a somber voice: On July 15, a La Jolla housewife, lacking even a modicum of knowledge of electric current, or even any common sense, turned on the power to her water-filled dryer, setting off an explosion that not only incinerated her own house but most of the block as well. (Cut to cemetery where a small engraved urn surrounded by flowers reposes on a grassy hill.) So I called a neighbor who ascertained that the electrical parts of this machine were not wet and recommended running the dryer for several hours to let it dry. Which I did – standing over it with a fire extinguisher.
Despite the dryer’s brief masquerade as a washer, it valiantly tumbled on. While my thirty-something sons have often offered to buy me a new one, I couldn’t see replacing a working dryer. They saw ugly. I saw family.
Before they took my avocado green friend away, I hugged it. Well, as much as you can hug something that is 27 wide by 29 deep. I even suggested to Olof that we have a party for it. “Inga,” he kept saying, “it’s a dryer.” He suggested moving it out to the patio as a retro serving area if I truly couldn’t bear to part with it.

So the new dryer is here. We’re still bonding. And I’ve still grieving. If only I hadn’t set the dryer to High. If only I’d put the blanket through an extra spin cycle. If only…  
R.I.P. 1973-2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Inga on national radio!

Watch YouTube tape of me on national radio!

Interview with Ric Bratton on This Week in America


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fancissimo Cars

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published May 7, 2015] © 2015 

One night about a year and a half ago, some miscreants wandered up and down our street and smashed the side mirrors and tail lights of more than 50 high-end cars. They significantly damaged our neighbor’s Lexus SUV then moved to our driveway where they whacked Olof’s BMW. But like the Angel of Death, they passed over my 2005 Corolla. I couldn’t help but wonder at the time: was this a class thing? Did they consider my crappy Corolla one of their own? Or, I feared, did they just think it wasn’t worth the effort?

I fully admit that I was born without the car gene. But from time to time some phylogenous artifact of the car genome surfaces in me. This was the case when a long-time friend came to pick me up for lunch in her SUV. She has always driven SUVs but the first thing I noticed was that it was a different color, leading me to conclude that it was new. Cars rarely speak to me but this one did. Dazzled by the dashboard panel, I could only inquire, “Does the Starship Enterprise now come in an Earthling model?” (It was a Porsche Cayenne.)  This was one nice ride.

I must confess that I have been slow to master even basic Luxury Car Speak, a required language in La Jolla. I only recently learned, for example, that with really high-end cars, one only refers to it by its letter and number combination, for example, the F12 or the C7. I mentioned to a car-oriented friend that he might like to see another friend’s new Corvette C7. He emailed me back: Inga – I cannot allow you to embarrass yourself any further. Corvette owners don't call their cars Corvettes, they call them C6s or C7s. Um, okay. (For fellow ignorati, the F12 is a Ferrari with a V12 engine.)

Upon further reflection, I realized that a friend who owns several Ferraris only refers to them by number, as in “I’m taking the 458 today.” (I guess if it’s your own car, the “F” is assumed.)  Like all devoted Ferraristas, she speaks in the language of exhaust and hangs out a lot of the F-List (the Ferrari owners chat list).

There’s no fancy way to refer to my 2005 Corolla. I could call it a Corolla LE (Luxury Edition) which it is. However, I think that just means it came with a radio.

The car-noscenti, however, are never satisfied. My friend’s new Corvette is not just a run-of-the-mill C7, I’m furthered informed; it’s a C7 Z06 which I understand means it has a really souped-up engine, and should be so referred. He’s taking it to a race track that doubles as a training ground for new souped-up-car owners who want to know what their vehicle can do before they open it up on their usual raceways (La Jolla Boulevard and the Von’s parking lot).

As I’ve written before, I am always fascinated by learning about people who live very different lives from mine, whether it be people from other countries, or people who just seem like they’re from different countries but actually live close by.

I have it on good authority, for example, that you will see no fat people at the local Ferrari dealership receptions. Just like Nordstrom sticking their fat department on the third floor behind the rest rooms, do they fear their image tainted by the unsvelte?

Probably, but after riding several times in my friends 458, the more obvious reason became apparent: fat people need a fork lift to get out of them.

Luxury sports cars really intimidate me because there are just too many egregious mistakes you can make. The first time I rode in a Ferrari, I got fingerprints on the roof trying to leverage my bulk out of the seat. I also closed the door pushing on the window when my friend let me out down the street (the unsatisfactory condition of our street’s paving was making her a wreck). This Ferrari (maybe all Ferraris?) does not have a frame around the window so it is bad for the window if you close the door pushing on the window. (All that money and they can’t spring for a window frame?) “This is what the door handle is for, Inga,” she admonished me in a follow-up email once she’d calmed down. (Ferrari people are very excitable.)

My 2005 Corolla knows what it feels like to be disdained, to be looked down upon by all its compatriot vehicles on the street. And still, it holds its hood up high. However, it has also not been lost on it (or me) that Olof pays more for a single “maintenance” visit at BMW of San Diego than I have spent on my car in 10 years.
AND I don’t need a crane.
Which one is not Inga's car?