A Terrible Night 

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

It took me an hour and forty minutes to get there. I was forty minutes late. I knew I would be late on the way there; I had hoped that there was some way I would make it on time.

At every red light, I would stare at the clock and calculate how late I could be and still be reasonable. At first, it was fifteen minutes. If I was fifteen minutes late, I could still walk in with a blithe air.

Then, stuck in traffic, at my fifteen-minute-mark, I told myself that in another ten minutes I would be there, with five minutes to spare for parking.

After I was thirty minutes late, I kept going straight. I did not want to turn back when I got so far.

In retrospect, I must have been curious as to how long, in the end, it would take me to get there. I could not turn back until I found out how late I would be.

I must have given up on making it at all, but I did not verbalize this, it remained wedged in the subconscious, giving false hope to reality. I had to know that once thirty minutes passed, I was so irrevocably late the evening had to end there. But I kept going. It felt strange to have almost reached my geographic goal and then make a U-turn for home.

When I made it, the parking lot was empty. I parked as close as I could get and dashed out to feed the metre. With only a few cents in my wallet plus the fourteen minutes the previous tenant left on my metre, I ran to check the metre two stalls over: fifteen minutes. Not enough. I needed an extra hour until parking was free. The next metre, two more stalls down, nothing. Two further stalls down, seven minutes. Another two stalls down, nothing again. This was hopeless, I would not be able to park there.

Running back to my car, I had vague plans that I would find free parking on the next block. And then, when I found none there, I went on to the next block. And I was in the woods and a thick fog rolled in from the sea. If I parked my car there and walked through the woods, I would be a walking billboard for werewolf attacks. I drove back frantically and realized I really really had to pee. I heckled a pedestrian. Then I thought about rolling down the window and screaming my deepest hate towards this moron - who the hell does he think he is walking around in a pea soup-thick fog anyhow?

For the rest of the night, I jeered internally at everyone I met. I looked like it too because I cleared rooms with my scowl. It was because I understood the severity of my tardiness: no matter how many trailers, by forty minutes after the publicized start time, a movie will start. I admitted defeat and turned for home.

To make up for my having driven out all the way from the countryside to the big city, I needed a drink and maybe a bit of retail therapy.

Everything was closed except a bookstore. I picked up a few books I already own and flipped through them. I read snippets from a book about death and then tried to figure out knitting pattern enigmas. A book about genetics here and one about genocide there.

I made it for the drink. I sat at my table watching the waitress wiping the walls. On my right, there were people at the fireplace laughing; they stopped laughing when I walked past them.

After an hour the waitress told me that they were closing. So I came home and it only took me half an hour.

All night, despite my foulmouthedness and vindictive thoughts, I really really just wanted to cry.

Then I noticed, as I wrote this, that beside me is a pink piece of paper with a star and the words Wolf Parade. It's some band my sister likes. Which rather disappointed me. Because I really hoped it was a message from the beyond.

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