Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Beginning 173


I hate driving to work in the morning, especially when there’s ice on my windshield (which, with my car, is anytime the temperature drops below seventy-five), because I lost my ice scraper, so I have to use a cassette tape to scrape the ice. The only tape I have in my car is Ave Maria: The Sacred Songs of Christmas, by Jimmy Dean, which has rounded edges and does a lousy scrape job, so I usually end up spitting on the windshield and using my fingernails to scrape the ice. Which is better than just licking the windshield--and I should know, having once missed half a day of work waiting for the sun to melt the ice and unstick my tongue. Anyway, I end up with a 2-inch-wide, saliva-smeared circular hole to peer through until my defroster kicks in, which it usually does about the time I’m pulling into the parking lot at work.

I also hate driving to work when it rains. My windshield wipers are old and rotten, and leave streaks of water behind. I've tried wrapping them in paper towels, but before I reach the end of the block, I'm trying to peer around soggy bits of shredded paper all over the glass. I've also tried wrapping the wipers in plastic bags, but they don't absorb any water. And the highly absorbent paper grocery bags are really distracting moving up and down on the windshield. I have to keep moving my head to see around them.

My friend Benny’s car has a CD player, but a CD’s no good for clearing the ice. CDs are round, see, so only a little bit of the edge makes contact and you end up just drawing lines across the windshield like you’re setting up for a game of tic-tac-toe. So that’s another reason why CDs suck. And you can’t get The Sacred Songs of Christmas on CD. You can maybe get Jimmy Dean’s Christmas Card but that doesn’t have my favorites on it. You can get Jimmy Dean - Greatest Hits. I guess that one’s pretty good. It has "Big Bad John." Momma always said, “Life is like a Jimmy Dean record. You need do other things before you get the sausage out.” Momma never did make much sense.

Anyway, today was an ice day, and I was about to give up and call Yellow Cab, when I noticed Schlep, the neighbor’s bulldog hiking his leg on my left front tire. So I quickly grabbed him and tossed him on the windshield to put his steamy organic windshield cleaning fluid to good use. Today’s drive into work was an entirely new visual experience, looking through yellow rivulets between tundras of ice with the sun glaring through, Jimmy belting out "Jingle Bells" on the tape player . . . Psychedelic, man. I made a note to leave Schlep a big bowl of water tomorrow.


Opening: EE.....Continuation: Bunnygirl, ril, anonymous

28 comments:

jack frost said...

Ah, Jimmy Dean. Musical giant and sausage magnate.

So you're not expecting anyone to crit the opening, of course, so I guess we rip into the continuations instead?

I thought they were all great.

How can you not be mellow with Jimmy Dean on the turntable and on the griddle?

Evil Editor said...

EE knocked this out for fun at a time when there were no openings in the queue (and there aren't many now), but he's willing to take his medicine from the minions.

Anonymous said...

Any story about someone that would try to lick the ice off her windshield has got to be entertaining. -JTC

Bernita said...

Sorry, EE, I found it boring.
Am I now consigned to Outer Hells?

Evil Editor said...

No, you're consigned to sending in a more interesting opening.

Dave said...

I read this on the openings page and almost ran from the room ill.
It's the stream of consiousness style that is so hard for me to read. I admit it's personal preference but if I read this as the first paragraph of a book, I'd put it down.

I'm not sure it says anything about the character other than he is so obsessed with something (or maybe a Monk OCD clone), has poor taste in music, and is too impatient to wait for the car to heat up or even to have a good car. Here we have a person so (what's a good colloqial for crazy) off base and out-of-control that he or she is doing silly and idiot things. Where is this novel going? I don't know and I have no reason to care.

This is a life not ordered by sanity or run by common sense that the reader might not want to particiapte in several hundred pages of their recovery.

Now this may be the scientist in me, but I didn't read it as funny or even humorous. Reading the continuations made me think the excerpt might be humor. But it doesn't work for me. In the middle of Douglas Adam's total lunacy or in Palahniuk’s wildness, we always had sympathy for the heroes as hapless as they are. I didn't find anything in the paragraph to make me like or sympathize with the hero.

I'm not grumpy today, either.

Evil Editor said...

On the openings page where you read it, it was labeled "short story." Very short story, actually, as I dashed it off in my car while waiting for the ice to melt, and wrote only the one paragraph.

Anonymous said...

That is a fascinating opening! I thought it might have been something by Shakespeare, but then the prose made me think it was Chaucer! What genius wrote this? After I post this comment I'll scroll through comments and see if I can identify the brilliant writer.

S. W. Vaughn said...

EE, you got it goin' on! Come down to the 'hood some time and hang.

I'd pick this apart but, ya know, I've been there, so I can't. Hell, I'm still there. But at least I can find my ice scraper now. :-)

Yes, I'm disagreeing with the minions. No, I'm not kissing ass. I'm relating, man! I once spent an entire spring operating my windshield wipers via a piece of rope tied to each of them and circuiting through the front windows, tugging back and forth as I drove to my job at McDonalds.

Poverty. It's what's for dinner. :-)

Dave said...

"and wrote only the one paragraph"
How perspicacious of you! ;)

Bernita said...

SW, it's easier just to stick your head out the window, since you have it open anyway.

December Quinn said...

Am I the only one who genuinely liked the opening? I was thinking, "Wow, I'd totally keep reading this!"

Evil Editor said...

Am I the only one who genuinely liked the opening?

No, I thought it was subtly hilarious. In fact, with the continuation and the comment from S.W., I think we're on our way to a New Yorker essay. Anyone got some more suggestions for dealing with worn wipers?

HawkOwl said...

I don't mind the stream-of-consciousness approach, but other than that, I'm with Dave. It's about an asshole with a car. The only thing you can hope for is that the next day the car won't start and there will be one less asshole on the road.

I would definitely not read more.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have a dog like Schlep around, just take a big drink of water yourself just before you leave the house. Works just as well...

Walrus said...

Sorry. I had trouble reading either the opening or continuation. All I could think was "What kind of lamebrain loser won't even shell out 77 cents for a small scraper?" I don't find first person idiots entertaining. Third person idiots should normally come in small doses, because idiocy at that level just makes me want to slap some sense into them.

pacatrue said...

I just like the line from momma, "You need to do other things before you get the sausage out." I used to have a girlfriend who said that a lot, but I wasn't sure what she meant.

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

I thought the voice was great, even if the subject matter wasn't the most thrilling.

The continuations were amazing, especially the last one.

(I've been having computer troubles lately... if this goes through a billion times, EE, I apologize).

Rebecca said...

At my workplace in the south, one of the first things we are told during orientation is never to use our badge as an ice scraper. In fact, they even give out ice scrapers with the company logo on them during orientation.

December Quinn said...

Anyone got some more suggestions for dealing with worn wipers?


I had a blown wiper motor for months once. Like SW, I was too poor to fix it. I drove with a squeegee, and stopped to use it every time I had a chance. I had that Rain-X stuff on the windhsield which did help a little too--but if it was really pouring, I simply had to stay home.


Do you want a few more openings?

McKoala said...

EE, the box that the cassette comes in makes a much better scraper than the cassette itself.

I used one for years. Hello, walrus.

j h woodyatt said...

The opening seems written in the voice of somebody I'm meant to start off hating. If the purpose of that is to get me to understand that the narrator is a flake (and probably an idiot), then I'm going to need to see space aliens and rayguns to balance it out somewhere in the next three pages.

The continuations are, well, demented. The bit about compact discs is pretty good, and the "Momma never did make much sense" line was the moment where I stopped hating the story and just settled into a vaguely dissatisfied irritation. It was the point where I first got a hint that the author's voice may not be the same as the narrator's, so it wins for that reason.

I have to agree with a poster above. First person idiots are really annoying. You'd better be annoying me to good effect.

Evil Editor said...

Do you want a few more openings?

We're desperate for openings. A few continuations wouldn't hurt either.

Anonymous said...

Do you want a few more openings?

I thought some of the minions just ripped him a new one.

cm allison said...

december quinn,
Better than Rain-X is a bag of Bull Durham rubbed wet over the windshield. Sheets the water away everytime and it's cheaper.

The opening reminded me some of an old Cheech & Chong record.... not bad, just past that stage in my life.

KingM said...

Wipers are about as easy to change as lightbulbs and practically as cheap. Don't be intimidated by the fact that we're talking about repairing a car.

Anonymous said...

You can change the wipers? DAng, my dealer told me I had to buy a whole new car...

Rashenbo said...

Oh.my.gawd. I giggled way too much on that one. What a visual!