Monday, May 5, 2008

You and the Night and the Music

Good things and bad things. Friday night's trip to the Cambridge Brewery was not without its difficulties: namely that, since it was opening night of their 19th anniversary celebration, there was a 2 hour wait to get a table. Through a series of mishaps Yuval and I showed up an hour late anyway, but it was certainly no fun waiting and shivering outside under an umbrella table as the drizzle continued to pour. Eventually we got inside, though, and the food was yummy and (according to Yuval and the others at our table) the beer was delicious.

Saturday saw a very late lie-in and breakfast at IHOP (which has boysenberry syrup, a staple of my childhood) followed by a trip to the cinema on the Common for a viewing of Iron Man. Let's just say I loved every moment of it and have now developed an official crush on Robert Downey Jr. completely against my better judgment. The movie wasn't as heavy-handed as Spider-man or as lame as The Fantastic Four, and had every element of an excellent comic-turned-movie adaptation. I also didn't realize until after the movie that the actor playing the bad guy is the same man who played the title lead in The Big Lebowski. I guess I just didn't recognize him without the bathrobe and long hair. Bravo, Marvel Studios. I can only hope that your future releases prove as faithful and well done as this, your first foray into non-studio backed moviemaking.

Sunday was Mom's birthday but between my late start, the harrowing experience I will detail below, the 6 hour time difference between here and Scotland (where my parents are now), and the fact that I never look at calendars on the weekend, well...I totally didn't call. I mean, I remembered it was her birthday--her present is waiting for her at home when they get back tomorrow night--but once again I failed to be a good, faithful daughter and call my mother. I feel like the world's biggest schmuck.

So, Yuval has been teaching me to drive a stick shift (something I've wanted to learn how to do since I got my license). Sunday consisted of practice on his empty street in Lexington followed by a test drive to a delicious Japanese restaurant in town. I even mastered "the hill exercise", which consisted of me keeping the car motionless on an incline purely by balancing the clutch and the gas. Then came the big challenge: driving back to Boston via the highway. The drive to Rt 2 and the actual driving on said route went wonderfully well--true, sometimes they weren't the smoothest starts and stops ever, but nothing horrible. Of course, this was too good to last.

The exit we needed to take is a popular one and often extremely busy. We thought that, it being in the late afternoon on a Sunday, it wouldn't be crowded. WRONG! I managed the light and intersection off the exit just fine, but then came the next light on a hill, around a bend. I had to stop on the hill for the red, but when I tried to shift into 1st for the green light I started sliding backwards towards the car behind me (a natural thing to happen with a stick shift). But since I've always driven an automatic, my first instinct was to hit the gas, which made the car make some real scary noises and didn't stop by backwards descent. I was full on panicking by now, crying and yelling and saying things like "I can't do this!" Every time I tried to shift forward I just slid back more, until we finally bumped the car behind us. One of the young women in the car, clearly irate, got out and proceeded to verbally lash Yuval for my stupidity (I was too busy crying to respond). He stayed calm, reassuring me that everything is fine while getting out his insurance information. When he got out of the car to give it to the mother at the wheel behind us, it was discovered there was no damage whatsoever and so the car waved him away and sped on. He got back in, put on the emergency lights, and proceeded to calm me down for the next 10 minutes. He asked if I wanted him to drive the rest of the way, but I knew I'd never get over this if I didn't finish what I started. Eventually I calmed down enough so that I got the car to lurch into 1st and drove, shakily, the remaining 3 minutes back to his house.

After I parked I had to sit there for another 10 minutes while I let my embarrassment, anger, fear, and nerves sort themselves out. Yuval held me all the while, assuring me that everything was fine and that I did spectacularly for my first time driving a stick. He never got mad or yelled back at me once throughout the whole ordeal, staying perfectly calm even in the face of a possible hit to his insurance rate. In short, he was perfectly supportive and understanding and his first priority was making sure I was alright.

I feel like I don't mention enough on here just how wonderful he is and how much I love him. Seriously, strong enough words do not exist in English. Or French.

We took a nap for a little while afterwards and then headed to Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square for delicious, delicious greasy double cheeseburgers. Hey, I had just had what felt like a near-death experience on a busy Boston road with angry Masshole drivers careening around me. I deserved a double cheeseburger with fries and a Coke! And so did Yuval for putting up with me.

To all the Kenyon folks out there facing exams this week: bonne chance! You'll do fine. :o)

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