A Meandering Path

These times arrive without warning, where writing takes place but for a variety of reasons both valid and borne of a misdirected sense of vanity, nothing materializes. “This isn’t my best work,” I whine internally to no one in particular. “That’s never stopped you before,” the cynical voice of Reason replies. He has a point, but that guy is kind of a jerk so I stubbornly refuse to let him emerge from the fracas victorious. I put the posts somewhere deep in the WordPress database. “That’ll show him,” I think. But muffled and gagged, I can still make out mocking laughter from Reason. There was no way for him to lose, really.

Some events or circumstances are easy to talk about. I maintain my gaming site on a rock steady schedule. It’s not interesting, mind, but it’s comfortable. I don’t really concern myself with maintaining a readership because there is none nor do I assume there will ever be. If some person wanted to hear my thoughts about Warhammer and Tetris, they have my sympathies. I had presumed and in fact predicated the launch of that site on the theory that it was, even in my own tiny target demographic (“People I Know Who Humor Me By Reading What I Write”), a niche audience of zero. Here, I feel a smallish responsibility to feign universal appeal. It’s not something I find particularly natural.

I have collected a series of anecdotes, therefore, that chronicle the last several months in greater detail than you’ve seen here. None are worthy of publication by themselves, but I can provide an executive summary of them, devoid of context and probably lacking any cohesive chronology. It’s the Lost method of drama: Obfuscate a simple, straightforward tale with unnecessary mystery and misdirection by destroying the basic tenets of narrative structure. I’m sure it will be fascinating.

False Alarm

The lesson I learned, above all else, was this: If you’re adamant about not visiting a hospital, do not complain to your wife about chest pain, especially when accompanied by arm discomfort. However, if you’re serious about seeing a doctor quickly, do complain to hospital staff about chest pain. They take it very seriously, at least up to the point where their frequently asked questions begin to elicit answers that don’t jive with cardiac issues. For example, chest pain without an associated shortness of breath will typically get initial attention but will quickly be followed by something just north of absolute apathy. Perhaps you need to be under 35 years of age to get that kind of attitude (the “Man, I wish this doofus wouldn’t have wasted our time”), but for someone who was reluctant to visit the ER in the first place, it’s an effective guilt trip.

Odds Are Not

The logic for including the eponymous eighteen wheels on truck rigs is difficult to fault. However, the good citizen brigade may find the freedom it permits these vehicle operators to suffer major damage to a critical portion of the trailer without obvious ill effect to be lacking. Certainly when one of several redundant tires on the truck in front me exploded and sent radial-belted shrapnel across the front of the car and several lanes of highway 237, I had less than positive things to say about it. When the shrapnel succeeded in shearing the mudflap from the back of the truck and sent it hurtling sidelong at me like a square rubber discus before I could safely change lanes, I felt there could have been some sort of auxiliary system in place to alert the oblivious driver so he didn’t proceed to bumble down the road in front of a wake of debris without so much as letting slightly off the gas.

The parking lot of our destination—arrived at after the incident—contained those concrete stall stoppers, designed to keep vehicles from getting overzealous with their approach and careening into planter boxes or, you know, walls. Parked up against one as I was, the extent of the damage seemed fairly light. Some scratches, a bit of a dent in the license plate. At the time it didn’t occur to me to lie on the asphalt and examine the underside of the car. The rest of the afternoon proceeded without incident, but as evening fell, the fate of Nikki’s poor Honda could not be avoided.

The Middle Gets Slow

The only other time I’d ever sat in the bleachers was at an Oakland A’s game. I presume that most sports teams have a standard fanbase personality: Devoted, expressive, cynical, somber, raucous, etc. A’s fans, at least 15 years ago, were fairly passive and mild. The team was reasonably good for the most part (this was the skinny Mark McGwire and early Jose Canseco before-he-was-a-total-joke era) but the fans weren’t rabid like Raiders fans nor were they plauged by the angst of Giants fans.

But this experience, at AT&T park, was different. Bleacher bums arrive, generally speaking, late. Mostly around the second or third inning. They don’t make the trip a huge event with lumbering backpacks stuffed with goodies to keep younger children occupied. They’re typically working stiffs catching a game after their shift’s end, or younger dads trying to connect with middle school aged sons without having to acquire additional mortgages. They also include some die-hards who find outfield seats to be among the best bang for the buck values and attend games primarily to amuse themselves being various shades of blue in the direction of the nearest visiting player.

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