First off, I envision the portrayal of this tale as a black N white silent talkie. One I wish I could create in its full imagined splendor. Sadly, time and ability restricting, I’ll give you words.
I flew to Colorado seeking the last bits of grown-up time before giving up the month of December as surrogate mommy to my niece while my sister recovers from her second knee replacement. Additionally, I needed an escape – the anxiety around my upcoming scan rapidly tightening. Travel is my favorite release valve.
My girl, Om, and I had plans to attend the 1940’s Winter Ball in Denver. Dress up to the 9s and dance till we dropped. Something I intended to do- despite my knee being the size of a cantaloupe.
Om had lined up a friend of hers to do our hair and makeup – giving us one less thing to worry about. Unfortunately, at the last minute her friend flaked and squeezing us in before the event became impossible. So we set to doing it on our own. Envision a lot of googling how-to videos!
Pin curls and teasing ensued. By the time we were all dolled up we felt exhausted. Over a plate of lemon shrimp pasta Om zoned out. “Where’d you go?” I inquired.
“That’s was a lot. I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just call it a night, stay home, drink champagne and skip the entire thing.”
“Works for me…” Honestly, I was just glad to be there with her (already feeling more relaxed than I had in weeks). The ball was not a necessity.
“No, we really should go” she insisted, unsure which one of us she was trying to convince. “Even if it’s only for 10 minutes.” I figured she was probably right. We had put in a lot of work. Hell, I straightened my naturally curly hair just to pin curl it. And we’d managed to tease loft into her fine hair against its will.
Now, of course, all this fluffing had taken much longer than we’d prepared for – hair, makeup, false eyelash challenges. So instead of arriving around 6:30 as planned it was looking like 8.
We climbed in the car, tucked our crinolines in and were off to the ball. We picked up where we’d left off on the tail end of our last 12 hours of conversation. In the midst of discussing the merits of buying versus leasing, as Om knew it was time for a new car, we heard what sounded like a truck riding our bumper. But it never passed by. It just continued alongside. Alarmed, Om pulled off onto the shoulder. Our exit within eye shot.
I opened the car to a burst of cold air and the smell of burnt rubber and climbed out to investigate. Sure enough the back rear tire was completely pancaked. Thank god it was against the shoulder not facing out towards 3 lanes of speeding cars.
Om peeled off her white gloves and climbed across the console to slide out my side. We opened the trunk and proceeded to empty the contents (many nights of burning man adventures and assorted camping trips) into the back seat in order to release the spare. We are capable women. So we could certainly change a tire, crinolines blowing and all.
Once the contents of the trunk filled the back seat, the spare sat propped against the bumper, and the car was all jacked up and ready to go, we realized that there was no tire iron in sight. Apparently the last time the tire was changed they’d forgotten to return it to her. Shit! Now what?
We were stuck and the 19 degree weather was beginning to make our stocking knees knock. We let the car back down and proceeded to climb back inside, turned up the heat, Om seeking roadside assistance.
The online app kept searching….. searching……. processing….. until she decided to call them directly. We were informed it would be an hour before help would arrive. Seriously?!?!
I was convinced her car had heard our earlier musings on a new vehicle and was giving a big “Oh, you no longer want me? Fine then, Fuck you! I’ll wait here. See how you get to the ball without me.” We wanted to message our missing musketeer but knew she was in the midst of a work event. So naturally we posted our ‘debacle selfie’ to Facebook and then began searching out karaoke options.
Om was apologetic. “You’ve come all this way and now this!” But honestly I didn’t care. I was truly enjoying myself even if we were stuck, our carriage a pumpkin once more. I loved having something more pressing to focus on than the insidious nerves of new growth.
Friends have a way easing fears. And this debacle may have been just the perfect prescription for me. Everything happens for a reason I told her. Perhaps I’ll miss running into my douche-bag ex-boyfriend at the ball. Not that I’d know it.
Or perhaps, she invited, “the tow truck driver will be tall, handsome, and independently wealthy. He just works as a way of giving back.”
“Oooooh, I like how you think. And he’ll fall instantly in love with you.”
“Oh no, with YOU”, she said. “And then you will move back to Colorado.”
“Wow! There’s Madness in that method.” I laughed. She’s been trying to convince me to return since she’d moved to Colorado from NY.
After an hour and a half passed, and at least one tow truck, we decided a status call to the tow company seemed in order. Apparently the driver was just dropping off his last pick up and would be heading our way.
Another 20 minutes passed and Om’s phone rang. “No, we’re not in the Burger King parking lot…..On I-70 just before the exit to Quebec.” Apparently the insurance company had put us at Colfax and Quebec. He assured us he’d be right there and rerouted.
“Where’s Colfax & Quebec?” I asked. Om looked it up. We realized he was still another 20 minutes away.
Now, Om has a Passat. And knowing VW’s have a very specific sized tire iron she had placed a follow up call to the insurance company to make sure they notified the towing company. To ensure they arrived with the tool required.
By this point,our attempts at positive pessimism on FB (“Stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, on the way to the 1940’s Winter Ball, BUT at least my tire iron is missing AND the tow truck is now and hour later than expected…”) and our own sarcastic natures were no longer sufficient entertainment. Om began googling the longest string of curse words. We required proper release to our tension. “You F…………….” she began, reading them off one after the next. By the time the driver arrived 20 minutes later we were feeling insufficient in expletive prowess but laughing.
(At this point of the talkie you must envision expletives crawling over the screen like the opening of Stars Wars.)
Out of the car we piled to greet our savior. Before jacking the car back up, he checked to make sure he had the correct size tool. Novel idea I thought. And low and behold……he did not.
“I’ll just run over to the auto part store” he offered.
“It’s 10:30”, Om reminded. “Pretty sure they’re closed.”
There was a truck stop just off the exit. He took off to try there. Another 20 minutes more pass before receiving a call that, two stops later, he was still coming up flat.
Om called her insurance company again to change the order to a tow request. “No, we are not still at Colfax & Quebec. We’ve never been at Colfax & Quebec.” Next we navigated between my google map and her wrangling the customer service gal to find a Big O Tires in the direction of her house, but still within their 11 mile allowed radius. We’d found one 9 miles away. Though the agent insisted it was 13. As if they were to be trusted at this point. “I’ll pay the additional $4 a mile.” “Please, just put in the tow order. He already knows where to find us. He’s already been here.” Once again our location seemed to be in question.
Mike would return and we’d seek warmth in the cab of his truck, me carefully trying not to sit on his iPad or tip over the big gulp. We tracked the movement and apparent confusion of our Lyft driver. His car starting and stoping, getting on I-70, passing us in the opposite direction. Get off one exit down and then stopping once more under the overpass. Om’s phone rang. “Yep, we’re on I-70. You can’t miss us. The car is being loaded onto a flatbed.”
In hindsight, I am sorry we didn’t kill time doing a roadside Rosie the Riveter photoshoot. Hell, we even had enough time to add in a few damsel in distress shots. Oh well.
Rescued by our trusty Lyft driver, we pulled up to the front door of the Denver Air & Space Museum a little over 3 hours after our anticipated arrival. Walking against the grain of people exiting, we cut a bee line straight to the bar. At this point drinks were mandatory.
For the next hour and half we’d dance, took photos, and soaked in the remainder of the event. The silver lining: all the lines except the coat check line were now nearly nonexistent.
When the ball came to an end we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to call it a night. Not after everything we’d been through to get ourselves there. Om checked her Facebook invites and found a friend DJing not to far away. So we headed in that direction.
It was nearly close and the bar was completely empty, a spattering of men here and there. The dance floor was wide open, and the music pretty good. We wound our way to the back bar and inquired on the ladies room. The men’s room in sight.
“Well, you’re in a gay bar.” He went on “I can point you to the ladies if you want to make the trek, but you’re more than welcome to use the men’s. There are stalls in there.” We chuckled. That worked for us.
I realized that it hadn’t even occurred to me that everyone in the bar was male. Nor had I consciously registered that two men were kissing when we walked up. I laughed at what a sight we must have been. And it certainly wouldn’t have been the first time in my life someone wondered if I was a trani.
We saddled up to the bar, introduced ourselves to the bartender and began regaling him with the events of our evening. “Shots on me” he offered and began mixing us cosmos and lemon drops.
The fabulous nature of our attire would be remarked upon and admired. And my shoes would once again become a topic of conversation. Earlier at the Ball a woman had run across the dance floor “OMG, You’re wearing my shoes!!!” Apparently she was having a themed wedding and had ordered these shoes for her big day. Her mother however, hated them! Om suspected that they might have felt too familiar to her mom, like something she may have been forced to wear as a girl. We assured her that momma was wrong, because all night my shoes got complimented. And this bar would be no exception.
As the bar closed down we ordered another Lyft home. Wandering past store windows full of male underwear mannequins and drunken cab riders we hopped in our ride. Driving past downtown and winding my way towards Om’s house would, like so many moments over the weekend, stir up memories. Places leave imprints, at least for me. And Colorado will always be part of the fiber of my story.
Around 3 we began peeling of the layers. Om’s run resistant hose torn, my plain old panty hose intact. Om climbed into her guest bed next to me and we talked until we both fell asleep.