Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rear Ends and Loose Ends

Before I get started about what happened to the rear end of my car and some thoughts on tying up loose ends for the holidays, I'm going to show you a nice and exceedingly soft cat. Her name is Annie, and you can pretend she is sitting on your lap and purring in a comforting manner, which might turn out to be helpful as you read along.

I suppose I have kept y'all in the dark long enough regarding the matter of my car, what with the election and getting some things done on Mom's house and trying to get some of my own work done as well.

It's kind of pathetic when one of the cats has to guest-blog just so my readers won't think I've fallen off the planet entirely and gone spinning off into space like Major Tom.

Actually, I was lucky that I didn't go spinning at high speed across the median and into the oncoming Interstate lanes, but this is what happened to the rear end of the scary metal thing that takes Shamu and his comrades to the vet:

I was driving down the Interstate one rainy fall morning a couple of weeks ago, and, like any sensible adult who wants to arrive in one piece at her destination, I was staying below the speed limit in the right lane and several car lengths behind the 18-wheeler in front of me, when I looked in my mirror and saw a black object increasing in size behind me, with no sign that any sort of slowing-down activity was in progress.

This black object became recognizable as a car, and, as things turned out upon later investigation, it was getting closer in way too big of a hurry because the driver was arguing with her boyfriend, smoking a cigarette and drinking a diet cola, all at the same time.

Now to my way of thinking, this leaves her at a four-hand deficit for driving, because you need one hand to smoke with, and the other hand to hold your drink, and at least two hands to wave around while you argue with your boyfriend. Not having enough free hands to safely have an argument on the couch is no position to be in while sailing down the Interstate above the speed limit in a slamming rain.

She also did not have insurance.

Anyway, like a sensible middle-aged adult who wants to arrive at her destination in one piece, I considered my options real fast. Hopping over to the other lane was out of the question because cars were in it. Going off on the shoulder was risky because I knew the road would narrow any second now for a bridge over a bayou, and besides, the rain was coming down as hard as a carwash, and cautious drivers sometimes pull over to the shoulder to wait for the rain to break when it's like this, and I couldn't see what might be on the shoulder up ahead due to the 18-wheeler being in the way.

The black car had grown quite large by this time, so I did what any sensible middle-aged adult would do.

I sped up as much as I could manage to reduce the black car's closing speed, and got as close to the 18-wheeler as I dared, and yelped at the top of my lungs, which was right about the exact same second when the black car tucked its nose under my car's behind and there was no choice except to go off the road.

We came to a stop and disengaged with no further automotive trauma. I wasn't hurt. My airbag didn't even go off. My knitting bag was intact. So I got out and checked on the other driver, who turned out not to be hurt and who had that expression on her face like Wile E. Coyote when he runs off a cliff, and who was still holding her diet cola and her cigarette.

And her car looked a lot worse than mine. VW Golfs may be small, but they are built like Munchkin Army tanks.

I won't bore you with all the muddy details of calling the cops and assessing each other's damage in the rain, but I will admit that I entertained some unkind thoughts about the young woman's possible occupation being that of Emergency-Back-Up Stripper at an airport service-road bar, and her boyfriend's apparent rejection from Central Casting for looking too sleazy to be a pimp.

And I will also spare you the exceedingly foul language of the young woman in question, not to mention the boyfriend -- who sported a cleverly slicked-back mullet, I might add.

But I will not spare you the amazing fact that while she did not have any insurance at the moment of impact, she apparently got on her cell phone and bought some insurance while we were waiting for the police, and thought she could get away with it.

It gets better. Over the past couple of weeks, my sensible, grown-up insurance company has decided to cover my repairs without raising my rates because the accident wasn't my fault, and they also launched an investigation into the other driver, who, in fact, turned out to be an actual stripper, as I learned today from the insurance company she called after the accident, when their representative called me to get another statement from me and to explain the chain of fraudulent events the young woman in question apparently tried to set into motion.

Anyway, I thought y'all deserved some sort of an update. I'm feeling bad for my poor little Golf all by itself in the cold, dark car hospital, mainly because in all the time I've had it -- up until I got rear-ended, that is -- I only had two small dents on the driver's side that were caused by road hazards, which I had been too cheap to fix . Junk falling off lawn trailers is a common road hazard here in the South, and since there's never two without three of anything, I figured that I'd be tempting Fate for Dent Number Three if I got those two little dents fixed.

Besides, when forced to choose between buying yarn and paying for minor cosmetic repairs to the car ... well ... you know. But I digress.

So now that it looks as though everything, including the rental car, will be paid for by someone other than myself, my gut has untangled itself from latticework cables to plain old garter stitch, and I can start thinking, and carrying on, about knitting again.

This is the time of year when people who knit can been seen with a work in progress at hand everywhere we go, so we can make use of those 17 minutes waiting in line at Home Depot to get in a dozen rows on Uncle Earl's Christmas scarf.

It's usually relatively easy to think of things to knit for people we love and know well, and many of us ("many" being knitters not involved with this blog) get an early start on holiday knitting every year with the Perfect Thing in mind for spouses, brothers, kids, sisters and parents.

But how to fill in the loose ends in the gift department? What do we do about those people for whom we do not knit?

Problems arise with what to do for those curious individuals who simply do not welcome knitted gifts. You know the type -- you could discreetly inquire as to color preference, choice of fiber, style of garment, exact fit, and every other conceivable detail, and still have your offering greeted with an ice-cold reception, because it is "homemade" or "not a designer item."

There's no pleasing such people.

You really can't be annoyed at those who are honest and vocal about their disdain for crafts -- I always feel glad to be warned in advance about people who despise handmade items, before I waste any valuable knitting time or good yarn.

So, what to do with such people -- who may come in the form of relatives, spouses of relatives, co-workers, or neighbors -- with whom the annual exchange of gifts is expected?


I do not believe that Miss Manners approves of this, but I think re-gifting is a great way to recycle something you really don't know what to do with, or can't use. Especially -- and this is important -- if you put a sticky note on the package so you know who you got it from.

It's really not rude, cheap or thoughtless. Miss Manners finds it perfectly acceptable for me to exclaim profuse thanks over a gift that does not fit or suit me, and then either landfill it in a closet, give it to charity or exchange it for something I like better.

Now I agree wholeheartedly with the important part -- exclaim your thanks, by all means.

Even if my great-aunt's idea of what sort of handbag suits me is drastically different from my own, I will purr over it because she thought enough of me to buy me a nice gift, even if it's a gift that would really be nice for someone else.

I try to warn people, too: "aw, Aunt Tillie, you don't need to ask what I want. I'd love anything you give me, you know that. But whatever you pick out, just try to imagine it with muddy paw prints all over it."

I think it's insulting to the giver to allow a gift to linger unused in a closet, when it could please someone else. And I don't see how recycling a gift is any ruder than exchanging it.

My own rules for gift recycling are pretty simple:

First, I think it is only polite to recycle a gift to someone with whom gift-swapping will be expected, but who you don't know well enough, or see often enough, either to knit for or to shop for a unique item. Everybody has to deal with at least three people like this at Christmas, and it's usually a mid-level supervisor at work, your cousin's third husband, and Great-Aunt Tillie's best friend from church, who always brings everyone "a little something."

Second, the recycled gift must come from an entirely different group-source than the person to whom it is given. While I sincerely appreciate the fact that Co-Worker X thought enough of me to give me a gift two Christmases ago, I only have room in our house for a certain number of candlesticks before people start to think we've gone Goth. Therefore, I will recycle the candlestick in question, but not to someone else at work. Instead, I will give the candlestick to Aunt Tillie's best friend from church.

I think it's okay to recycle nice gifts you cannot use to Aunt Tillie's best friend from church, your mid-level supervisor or your cousin's third husband, if they haven't been used and are still in the box, of course. Weird gifts you can't use should only be recycled to extra-persnickety people who are crabby, belligerent, snobbish and impossible to shop for. Everybody has someone like that in their family, too -- maybe your oldest brother's impressively implanted 25-year-old second wife, who only buys from Saks, frowns on popular fiction and popular wines, and who thinks the fact that you knit is "quaint."

So give that nice little Japanese ceramic floral vase to your mid-level supervisor, and recycle those musical penguin salt-and-pepper shakers to the second wife.

Such persons are also a good target for fruitcakes.

I subscribe to the theory that there is really only one fruitcake in each family, and that it just gets passed along to a different relative each year. In fact, that's how you know the family finally thinks you're a real grown-up: the first time you get the fruitcake.

Don't tell me you've never done this: dust off last year's fruitcake, open the tin, pour more rum on it, slap a new gift tag on it, and give it to whichever relative you're at odds with this holiday season.

If someone ever actually ate a piece of the fruitcake, they would probably die of alcohol poisoning from the 37 years' worth of concentrated rum in the damn thing.

Hmmm. Maybe I should send a fruitcake to the woman who rear ended me.



At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

Thanks Dez - you get the "Hey I made Linda blow coffee out her nose award" today.

I hope your Thanksgiving at your Mothers is wonderful, peaceful, and uneventful. You deserve it.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Kathy said...

I am so glad you are safe! I realize you don't know me from Adam, but I like you! I would miss you if you were injured or, erm, "gone". I too have a calico cat. I love fibers! Happy Thanksgiving!

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Ann said...

Well, what I want to know is if the stripper is spending the holiday in jail.

Or maybe I should ask, "In which jail is the stripper spending the holiday?"

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Ruth in PA said...

Your car story is a lot like mine, but didn't include a stripper, just a teenager in a hurry. Also, My mother-in-law makes fruitcakes to die for. I would eat one every week if she made them all year. Luckily, she makes enough to give us two or three, and we don't share with neighbors or friends. Just us and a cup of coffee.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Jess said...

Mambocat, the stripper doesn't need the fruitcake. She has one - with a mullet. Instead, wring the fruitcake out for Aunt Tillie, who might enjoy(and deserve) a nice nip of mulled rum.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger DianeS said...

I know I'm an adult, but nobody gives me fruitcake. This is because my DH thinks the things are acutal food and would eat them. And this, as you pointed out, would be dangerous.

I'm sorry to hear the tale of the rear end of the car, but at least you got a good story out of it. My accident, a few years ago, definitely did not involve a stripper, her (likely) pimp, all mulleted up, or an attempt at surprisingly creative fraud. OTOH, my beloved van was a total loss and the same DH insisted on buying me a PT Cruiser, which I'd been drooling over for years, so that much was good.

Have fun knitting up Christmas gifts. I'm still behind on pre-Christmas commitments and I doubt I'll get any Christmas knitting done at all.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Xeres said...

I'm late in reading, as usual!

Sorry to hear of your accident, although I have been sniggling helplessly while reading (and I'm supposed to be working!) ... Strippers and mullets indeed! I must relate the tale to my husband, who will enjoy it, owning a smash repair shop as he does (which is where I am, while I'm supposed to be working).

Car hospitals can be nice places! This one is a very nice one indeed ... in fact I started out my driving life as a customer, hee. That's how nice THIS one is. Although it could seriously do with a good dust in the office and bleach in the kitchen and the loos. But that's another story.

PS cute calico kitty. I had a calico cat - my first and only four-foot child. Jemima lived to 17, then had to be put down. *sniff*. I still miss her, even though she had a bad attitude towards cuddles, and had a maiden-aunt-like horrified disdain of the two-foot children that came to usurp her place as Queen Of The Manor.


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