Per my insurance company, I had to remain a full-time student while I was pregnant with Ben. Taking the opportunity to enroll in some fluffy classes like “Intro to Shakespeare” and “Intro to World Lit” and my biggest mistake in judgement “Jewelry,” I shlepped my ever-widening ass back and forth to school. The death of my grandmother weeks before this took place meant that I had a car that I didn’t have to borrow to drive, because I was full of The Trash.
As I turned the corner on my way to school one evening, I heard a loud bang and suddenly the car was harder to steer. The car in question was a Escort or something and not an old school Corvette without power steering or something, so this was highly peculiar.
At the soonest place I could turn off, I did so, into a subdivision of new construction houses, each looking exactly like the other. It reminded me of a science-fiction novel or something, like a Group Intelligence or something. Stranger in a fucking strange land.
I pulled my car over to the side of the road, still unsure of what had happened.
I pried myself out of the car with my arms and shuffled pregnantly over to the other side of the car. What greeted me was a completely flat back tire.
Fuck, I swore to myself. I didn’t have a cellphone because I had a pager instead (hey, don’t judge. My pager was all kinds of gold and sexy. And no, I was not a drug dealer) and the nearest gas station was several miles out.
Plus, thanks to Nat’s refusal to give me so much as a dime–he was still convinced I’d gotten pregnant to trap him. For his money or good looks, I asked him when he accused me. He didn’t like that answer–meant that I had no money whatsoever on me.
Stupidly, I’d not paid attention when my father tried to teach me how to change a tire, preferring, I suppose to groan and examine my nails while huffing about how I NEVER needed to know such a STUPID thing, DAD. Now, I was regretting it. Sorely.
I opened the trunk, an exercise in futility, I knew, because even if it had the proper things that one needs to change a tire, I was too large and in charge to sit on a curb and get a busted tire out. If I’d managed to get into the proper position, I knew I’d never get back up again. I’d be stuck in that creepy subdivision with the houses all the same until I birthed my baby, some months later.
I tried to reason that maybe this was for the best as it would prevent me from shoveling more bagels into my mouth, but even then, I knew I was full of shit. I needed help.
I began walking down the sidewalk, breathing a bit heavily from the panic that had now set in, and looking desperately for a house that had Real! Live! People! in it. As a child I’d noted that when people were home, they usually had their garage doors open, so I peered at each closed garage door as I passed it, my impending doom growing.
Finally, about a half a block down from my crippled car, I spied some wee pink bikes in the front yard of a house. Certainly whomever lived there had children and people who had children certainly wouldn’t slice and dice a pregnant woman to chunky pieces in their bathtub!
Still, though, I was nervous. I wasn’t used to relying on strangers for help, but I saw no other option. Waiting there for someone who knew me to stop and help was as futile as trying to win a limbo contest in my largened state, so I steeled myself and went to the front door.
I rang the doorbell and when a man answered it, I breathily spewed out the whole story. When I’m panicked, I tend to rush my words, speaking in one long word in a much higher than normal voice.
“Hi, um, my car broke down, and um, the tire blew out and um, I don’t, um, know how to fix it. And um, I need, um, help.” I squeaked out.
He looked at me, eyes narrowed and nostrils flaring. Could he be angry at me? Did I know him or something? Had I spit in his cheeseburger at some point?
I stood there dumbly, mouth agape and catching flies not knowing what else to do. If he said no, which was fine with me, I’d just go onto the next potential serial killers’ house. He was under no obligation to help me and we both knew it.
Finally, after summing me up, he rolled his eyes at me. He rolled his eyes, sighed deeply as though I was probably the most worthless piece of shit on the planet, and stepped outside, mute. He muttered something to his daughters to stay inside as he gestured that he was going up the street, and walked down the driveway toward my car.
When I sense that someone is upset with me, the stream of words that come out of my mouth goes to 11, and I began to babble earnestly.
“My car, you see, sir, is just down there and I just need someone to help me put the tire on it, and that’s all. Hahaha. I was on my way to school and I just blew a tire and hahaha, now I don’t know what to do because I don’t know how to change a tire.”
He walked a steady clip ahead of me, and I trailed behind like a chubby puppy, still spewing words like diarrhea. Finally, we reached my car and I showed him the spare donut tire in the trunk. He looked at me again, rolled his eyes so far back in his head, I swear they made a chink noise, and eyed me like the moron I was. Disdainful of my very existence.
Thankfully for us both, he took only a couple of minutes to pop the old tire off and put the new one one. I spent most of those minutes thanking him profusely. He didn’t have to help me, he owed me nothing, and yet he helped, I babbled on and on and on. Every now and again, he’d stop, seething, and give me another awful, withering look.
The man who hated me for I’m-still-not-sure-what finished putting the tire on and stood up. I thanked him with such honest sincerity that I nearly cried. I might have cried a little. Shut up.
He glared back at me, clearly angry at me. He grunted an assent, rolled his eyes at me once more, and walked away, hands balled into fists at his side.
I stood there, confused. What.the.fuck just happened?