The Perils of a Husbandless Housewife

TUESDAY: While driving the high school car pool on a morning with a full schedule and close to 200 miles on the day’s agenda—my front left tire went flat. It was fine when I pulled out of the garage, fine when I picked up the first kid, but flat after I picked up the second. I didn’t suspect the flat until we hit the first bump in the bumpy road. The impact was not what we had come to expect from this luxury automobile.  The noticeable jolt coupled with the dashboard warning light popping on: “Check tire pressure,” made me realize I was in trouble.

First thought, just get the kids to school.

I dropped them in the parking lot, pulled over and sure enough, saw that the rubber was a little too close to the rim. With another child still at home and an air compressor in the garage, I chose to drive home and fill up the tire before taking it to the tire repair shop. Mistake. But what were my options? I already tried once to figure out the complicated tire jack during the first of three flat-tires on this car this year and, because I don’t have a degree in mechanical engineering, failed.

Things were so much easier when I drove a 1963 Dodge Dart with an endless series of $5 retread tires and a jack my 13-year-old could put together.

So, driving on the flat cost me the tire and I needed a new one. $311 later and now owing my BFF, Beav, two rescue favors, I had my new tire. And then I made it across the desert in a pounding monsoon to arrive at the Altar Valley gym in Timbuktu, Tucson with one minute to spare before the junior high volleyball game began. I pleaded with the referee, “Will you please give me an extra minute to get my lineup together?” Thankfully, she was sympathetic—probably because I’m sure I looked more like a frazzled housewife than a capable volleyball coach.

WEDNESDAY: Thank God, it was uneventful.

THURSDAY: It has become absolutely clear to me that I simply can’t function without my husband. I thought I was a capable, confident woman with adequate mechanical and technical skills. I even like to believe I’m strong and can lift things and carry out household chores without the fear of breaking a nail or pulling a muscle.

Today, however, I couldn’t even successfully take out the trash. After collecting the last bag of refuse from the house, I walked to the dumpster and tried to pull it away from the wall and into the carport to load. But it wouldn’t move. Thinking it was stuck, I checked the wheels—they were clear—and tried again. No go. Knowing I’d only filled it with two small bags of trash, I couldn’t imagine what had made it so heavy! So, I opened the lid and looked inside and, OH MY GOD! The top white plastic Hefty bag was MOVING! It stirred slowly, from side-to-side, like a fatigued or injured animal reluctantly waking up.

Quickly, I dropped the lid (lest something pop out) and ran inside. I didn’t know what to do. My mind raced. After seeing a dead javelina on the side of the road this morning, I wondered if someone had dumped a dead or dying desert dweller in there. When I called my husband, he was of little comfort. “Maybe it’s a dead body,” he said.

Thanks, honey.

Well, it just so happens that one of my neighbors is a Pima County Sheriff, and he assisted me last Spring when the house alarm went off inexplicably. Fortunately, it was merely a wind-tunnel affect causing one of the interior doors to pop open and trip the alarm; however, we didn’t come to this conclusion until he had explored each corner of house before letting me inside. And I swear, every room was trashed. The place was at its unmade-beds, toothpaste-spit-in-the-sink and underwear-on-the-floor messiest. I was safe, yet mortified.

I figured since he’s already seen me at my worst, I’d give him a call and tell him I was afraid of my garbage can. And even though he was off-duty, he came over. “I admit I’m here because I’m curious,” he said. And with that, he produced a long, black probe and cautiously approached the dumpster. He poked it a couple times, then used the probe to lift the lid. Ever so gingerly, he first peered inside and then poked at the trash.

Then he looked up, closed the lid, cocked his head to the right and smirked. “It’s water,” he said. “And you’re right. The bag IS moving. It’s floating.”

Apparently, that monsoon I drove through on Tuesday played a role in our neighborhood, too, and blew open the dumpster lid long enough to fill it with a thousand pounds of heft. “I thought these things drained,” said my neighbor. Obviously not.

Once again, mortified, I accepted his kind offer to drag the dumpster out to the street and then drove my daughter to school, where I’m sure she’ll have a good time telling the entire volleyball team what a dingbat her mother is.

And as for this afternoon’s away game in Outback Tucson? I’m taking the bus.

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