Friday, July 15, 2022

Peaky Drivers

Peter has reached a number of milestones lately. Earlier this month, Peter officially graduated from high school. Next on his bucket list was getting his driver's license, which he proudly passed on his first try three days ago. Stay off the sidewalk, folks!

Peter was not the only one that was ecstatic. Angie and I were beyond thrilled to finally have a designated driver. Frankfurt, baby! Buckle up!

Both of those milestones played a role in today's main event - Peter's graduation ball. He and his friends had decided to wear suits like in Peaky Blinders, so Barbara took him to Frankfurt a few weeks ago to pick out a kick-ass three-piece suit and a Paddy cap. On his 18th birthday, we were already aware of this well-thought-out plan to dress up like late-19th century gangsters, so Angie I bought him a very nice silver Tissot pocket watch and chain, engraved with his initials on the outside and 'Carpe Diem' on the inside. Now all he needed was a kick-ass ride to really impress the ladies. How about a 1976 Porsche 914?

Yup, that'll work. 

We have had the 914 parked in a garage with the battery disconnected since late last year. Yesterday, we finally got it insured, although I think we might have inadvertently gotten a poor old lady fired. Est culpa uxor mea. 

Angie had called our old insurance company by mistake, who explained to her that an 'old-timer' car can only be insured if we already have a car insured with them. We agreed that we would switch our other car over and that problem was solved. Then Angie explained that she wanted to also add Peter so that he could drive it to his graduation ball, which turned out to not be a problem. That is, of course, until an hour later when her boss came back from lunch. I imagine the conversation going something like this:

'You did WHAT??!! He's had his license for THREE days and you thought it would be beyond brilliant to insure an 18-year-old kid for a Porsche 914?? Please tell me that you have not already sent them a written offer.'

'Yeah, funny thing, that.'

Not so funny was the man calling us to try and get out of it. Nice try, mister. As much as we enjoy listening to you back-pedal, I think we'll accept the nice lady's initial offer.  

To distract my guilty conscience, I went to the garage to put the plates on. To mount the back plate, I had to move the car up a little. I was relieved when the engine fired up on the first try. I had never driven the 914, and I immediately noticed that you need to really release the clutch a lot while pushing hard on the gas. It was a bit awkward, so I suggested to Peter that maybe we go for a practice drive before his graduation ball so that he does not stall out five times in the parking lot in front of his friends. He agreed. 

Peter got in the car and fired up the engine. He was literally shaking with glee. 

Mr. Safety immediately noticed that there was no side mirror on the passenger side and that the driver side mirror cannot be adjusted. Apparently, in 1976, you were either the right size for a Porsche or you were not. Peter was. 

After a brief and rather shaky start, Peter quickly got the hang of it. I was quite impressed. I was also  quietly relieved that the federal law requiring new cars to be equipped with seatbelts came into effect in 1968. You're doing great, son! 

After about forty minutes, I told Peter to take us home so he would still have time to gangster up. About two minutes from our place, the car died. I thought Peter had stalled, but he turned the key and the engine just kept turning and turning. Cars were backing up behind us and not far off a bus driver started long-honking. Peter started shaking again, but this time it was not with glee. 

'Relax, Peter. You gotta deal with shit in life when it happens, and this shit is happening. Put it in neutral - I'm going to push you backwards - just pop the curb there and let's make this sidewalk sexier.'

We got the car off of the street, which earned me a one-fingered wave from the friendly bus driver as he blew past us, still honking. 

Luckily we have the equivalent of Triple-A Gold Member status, so after a quick call, I was assured that we would have road-side assistance within 15 minutes. As we waited, Peter was obviously stressed out. He confided in me that he had not told any of his friends that he would be showing up in a kick-ass sports car because it was still not sure if it was all going to work out. When I told him earlier today that Mama had secured the insurance, that the plates were on, and that we should go for a test run, he promptly got on social media and began bragging the shit out showing up to the ball in a Porsche. 

Needless to say, he was sweating buckets. In case you are wondering what an 18-year old kid looks like as he is contemplating how best to roll back premature cloud boasting, here's one angle. 

But the show must go on, so I told him that I would wait for ADAC and that he should go home and get changed in case they could not fix the car and he would simply have to drive the Smart. Two-seater plastic toy cars impress the ladies, too - right? 

As I waited, I seriously questioned whether someone in the roadside service business would really be able to help with anything other than a dead battery or an empty gas tank, especially with a car that is only slightly younger and a tad more temperamental than Angie. 

The guy showed up after ten minutes and I was mega impressed. First off, he knew that the engine was in the back. 

I would have probably figured that out eventually, too, but my lack of car skills was not the point. The point was that after a few minutes, he had pinpointed the doohickey thingamabob that wasn't working and fixed it. Vroom, vroom!

After parking with style, Peter made a grand entrance and had a proper meet and greet with the Godfather. 

The ball itself was rather anticlimactic. The buffet looked promising at first. Until, that is, they ran out of food while we were in line and what they brought out after was, well, also lacking in climactics. 

After dinner, Peter allowed a single photo. 

Shortly after, he politely informed Proud Mama that parents do not need to stay for the dancing part. I'm not sure if 'sending your parents home to bed' was on his bucket list, but he looked quite content with himself as we waved goodbye from the Smart. 

Ladder Talk: [David and Tom were off being teenagers]

1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: The Abi ball, which I got to celebrate with my friends and of course that I got to drive the Porsche to and from the ball.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: The shock of the car breaking down and that this was the last official school event and now my friends are all leaving.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Figure out a name for the 914. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Have you ever had one of those days?

Have you ever had one of those days when the cops show up at the front door looking for you because four weeks ago, you began honking at a slow driver in front of you on a narrow one-way street? The same driver who claims that you also jumped out of the car when he stopped and began screaming at him? You don't remember doing any of this, but studies have proven that road rage can fog your recollection of events. 

It doesn't matter - you weren't even home, so they explained this all with a phone call, informing you politely that you now have to go down to the station next week to make an official statement. Then, on your way home, you decide to stop and fill up your toy Smart car with gas, after which you thought it would be a fun financial experiment to see if your card would be blocked if you tried entering a six-digit pin, even though German bank cards only accept four-digit numbers. After finding out that it does not block your card, you try it again, using the same six-digit number. 

At this point, the whole thing becomes more of a 'How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?' type of quagmire. The answer is 364, as was discovered by a group of engineering students from Purdue University, who designed a licking machine that was modeled after a human tongue. You decide to proceed with your equally intellectual quest to find out how many times you can enter an incorrect six-digit number for a 4-digit pin. After your third attempt, you stare at the screen puzzled, trying to comprehend the blinking message informing you that your card has been blocked. The clerk at the gas station tries to help.

'It means your card has been blocked.'

Remembering that the police had shown up at your door earlier that day on an unrelated anger management issue, you suppress your urge to respond and instead grit your teeth, harness the rage swelling up inside you, and redirect your fury on your hunk of a husband, who has ignored your nags for the last several years to order you a credit card, which would have come in quite handy when trying to pay for gas with a blocked bank card and no cash. Your incredibly intelligent husband provocatively suggests that you ask the clerk if you can simply come back later with cash. Thinking that this is a stupid idea, but knowing that he is right 99% of the time, you ask the kind lady behind the counter, who tells you this is no problem and writes down your license plate. 

In a move that would baffle most normal laymen, you then decide to go to a German bank after 4:00 in the PM and expect a human to be there to help you out. You only realize that the bank is closed after parking in the lot behind the bank. The same parking lot that has a gate arm that will open to let you out, provided that you slide your bank card into the slot. Not wanting to limit yourself to merely one financial adventure for the day, you decide to see what happens if you try entering a blocked card when trying to exit the bank's closed parking lot. You almost find it funny when the machine sucks up your card and says that you have to talk to the non-existent humans inside the closed bank, but you stop just short of a giggle. 

You park the car and spend the next five minutes deciding whether to ask your muscular ball of love for help or to spend the night in the car and try again in the morning. As luck would have it, a friend of yours comes walking out of the bank, sees you in the parked car mumbling obscenities at your steering wheel and offers that you follow him when he drives out. He then gets in his car and pulls up to the exit. It's at this point that you try and start the engine and remember a funny little quirk about your car that's not so funny at that particular moment. Smart car engines automatically lock after five minutes of sitting idle while contemplating life's choices, so the only way to get the car started is to remove the key, lock the car, unlock the car and stick the key back into the ignition. You realize that the car is not starting because of this non-humorous glitch and finally get your car started just as he drives though the gate, honks twice and disappears into traffic. You're parked in the first spot in front of the exit, but as luck would not have it, you cannot make it to the gate before the bar closes again.   

You curl up in a ball in the passenger seat, now ready and committed to weather the chilly night air until the bank opens when you remember that you need to pick up Tom from training. Your choice of a life mate was certainly wiser than your choice of a pin number or a car, so you call his wallet, which has both cash and an unblocked bank card, to the rescue. Not wanting to shock the love of your life by thanking him, you instead issue a clear and present statement. 

'I'm ready for wine.'

After making it home without any further monetary bumbles, you find that the chicken Caesar salad that your husband had planned to make was replaced with a pizza because, according to him, he got sidetracked rescuing a smart girl in a Dumb car. Or maybe it was the other way around. Doesn't matter, 'cause look - mama's medicine!

Have you ever had one of those days when you really, really wish that your husband did not have his own blog? 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Making America Loud Again: Discovery

Today was all about discovering new things. Patrick, along with myself, was surprised to discover that Peter, like Gizmo, can become quite the ass when you put him in water. 

This was Peter's evil grin directly after he had given Patrick an unwanted chlorine eye-bath. The next gleefully wicked head-shot came shortly after he had thoroughly baptized David without his permission.

Normally the second-born child would simply delegate the love and vent his aggression on the third born. The problem with that sound logic is that the third born in this case has been training hard-core for three hours a day, six days a week, for the last five years. David never stood a chance. 

At one point, Evil P decided to take break from tormenting younger humans to use the bathroom. Along the way, he discovered that my parents had recently installed surveillance cameras that were digitally capturing his nefarious and tortuous escapades for all of eternity. Smile!

The next discovery came in the bathroom. Over the years, my dad has decorated the entire house in what one can only be described as eclectically-bizarre with a dash of bat-shit crazy. The toilet closet was no exception.

Take another look. This truly frightening sculpture of Van Gogh sporting a Russian medal is hung at exactly the eye-level of a grown human that is standing.

If this is not the best deterrent to standing and peeing ever, I don't know what is. I used the bathroom shortly after Peter and I certainly sat the hell down. 

Tom also made a discovery of his own. I call this one 'Don't-fall-asleep-if-your-brothers-are-total-asses-and-have-a-ball-point-pen'.

After lecturing Things One and Two on the dangers of ink poisoning their sibling, we rewarded the entire crew with frozen sticks of milk-chocolate, because, you know, that's what good parents do. Right?

Time flies when you're doping up delinquent young-ins and before we knew it, it was time to free up three beds at the Johnson ranch.

Knowing that my parents had just dealt with a week of loudness, we decided to give them a bit of quiet time. After saying goodbye to Christine, Patrick and Stephanie, we hit the road and invaded the northern side of Carolina.

For reasons only privy to Tom's arguably faulty brain, he decided to drive around a roadside market riding a tricycle that he had found in the corner collecting cobwebs.

After nearly getting kicked out of a rather nice and rustic roadside market, we ventured on to a beach close to where they claim the first plane was flown.

The boys had a blast. They're city kids, so drinking a gallon of sea water and inhaling sand particles was something new and strangely exciting for them. It did build up a mighty fierce hunger so we were all glad to come back to the ranch to find Pop-Pop manning the grill and flipping burgers.

After almost twenty years of living in Germany, I have discovered the root cause of why German burgers suck. NEWS FLASH - IT'S THE BUN. In the land of Deutsch, the buns are crap. Entschuldigung. They either turn mushy because the patty is too juicy or they crumble because the bread is too dry. The buns in America are probably not even made using real bread, but they are delicious so I don't care. I also prefer American peanut butter which looks and tastes nothing like the real peanut butter you can find at Aldi. And don't even get me started on mustard that is not yellow, the lack of which also prevents German burgers from even competing with what my dad brought to the table.

After the old man and the BBQ, Pop-Pop tucked the boys in bed and started to read 'The Old Man and the Sea'. 

It's not exactly the most riveting story and the boys had spent all day in the sun and had bellies full of burgers, so it was not a shocker when they conked out after the third page.
Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we went to Kitty Hawk and had a good time. 
David: The beach. 
Tom: That we went to the Kitty Hawk beach. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That Patrick and Stephanie had to go. 
David: The drive. 
Tom: That I got smacked by a couple of huge waves and water came in my nose and my neck and everywhere.  

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Go to the mall. 
David: Go to the mall. 
Tom: Go to the mall.