It was two days until Halloween, and my kid had no pumpkin.
I went to a couple of stores that were, unbelievably, out of pumpkins. Then I drove to a nearby strip mall. The one that Dad had told me 14,862 times to never never ever go to. I had no choice; I had recently proven myself a tooth fairy failure and killed six goldfish. I could not blow Halloween.
I parked near the drugstore and went in for Midol and mascara and also bought some M&M’s on impulse, and decided to walk to the grocery rather than moving the car.
Price Chopper had lots of pumpkins, and they were cheap, too. I chose a huge, perfectly round specimen and headed out, imagining the fun Jess would have carving it.
Walking back, while wishing I’d moved the car and didn’t have to carry 30 pounds of redemption, I noticed three men at my car. My first thought was Oh, poor things, that has happened to me before, getting into a car that looks like yours but isn’t, and then you realize the car you are in has rosary beads dangling from the mirror and yours has a scented flip flop, and you hightail it out of there before the owner comes and thinks you are stealing his car.
My second thought was THEY ARE STEALING MY CAR.
I ran, screaming like a banshee who needed her Midol. “That’s my car! Get the fuck away from my car! Hey, that’s my car!” I had no idea how I would repo my car when I got there, but I knew the pumpkin was slowing me down. I left it near a cart return and ran faster, yelling more foul words than I knew I knew, as if sailor speak would make these guys apologize and offer to carry my pumpkin for me.
Now a row or two away, I watched the driver get in. Thief two jumped into the passenger seat, and the third perp ran to an old blue van parked nearby. Both vehicles left the lot, the van at high speed and my Buick looking like it should have had a truck with flashing yellow lights on top following it.
I turned back for the pumpkin, just in time to see some punk in pants four sizes too big grab it and run.
Back at the drugstore, I panted “Please. Call 911.” The not surprised clerk also let me call my dad, to ask him to pick Jess up at daycare, since I’d had a slight delay.
When the officer arrived we started the report, and then the questions came. Could he see my I.D.? What was my previous address? Where did I work? I ponder lots of weird stuff, but had never once thought about whether there might be a hooker living in my town with exactly the same name as me. While assuring Officer Skeptical that I had no warrants for prostitution or anything else, a call came over his radio – my car had been abandoned near the zoo, where another was stolen.
The officer drove me to my car and explained that the thieves knew I saw them, so they traded in. More likely they figured out that my car would not be very reliable for making quick getaways.
The police dusted for fingerprints, showed me how to start the car with a screwdriver, and I finally headed home.
I stopped by my parents’ place to get Jess and give Dad his You Were So Right and I Didn’t Listen to You and I’ve Learned my Lesson story. He started chuckling as soon as the story began, and was in full-blown guffaw by the time I finished. I mean laughing so hard that he could not respond to anything I said.
I felt better just for the telling despite the fact that I got no sympathy.
When Dad recovered, he said, “How many times have I told you not to shop there?”
“Fourteen thousand. Eight hundred. And sixty-two. Where’s Jess?”
“In the garage with Mom. Carving pumpkins.”