I’ve sat down to blog several times since confessing my little episode on the treadmill last week, but I couldn’t think of anything to write about that didn’t sound like whining. For crying out loud, I’d already come clean about nearly sanding the bottoms of my feet off after walking barefoot on the treadmill for an hour. Surely I could come up with something to share with you to prove I have at least half a brain in my head. But no, it wasn’t that kind of week, so here goes…

With more than a foot of snow still on the ground, we got hit with another snowstorm on Wednesday. Accounts differ on the amount because the wind was blowing so dang hard the snow never really piled up in a fashion suitable for getting a fixed measurement. In one spot, you might find only a few inches whereas three feet to the left you could easily find…well, three feet. Thursday morning, Tom woke up to find a huge drift blocking all three garage doors, so, for what seems like the hundredth time this winter, out came the snow blower. After clearing the driveway all the way out to the street, Tom took off for work in the truck, preferring its higher clearance and weight (700 lbs of sand in the bed) to his car. Brian got up an hour later and, without incident, backed out of the driveway and headed to work in his four-wheel drive Subaru, both exacting a promise from me that I was canceling my appointments for the day and wasn’t going to need either vehicle.

Here I should probably explain that I drive a car that has to be parked when it rains. It’s a fabulous little car–I love, love, love my little car–but the low-profile performance tires that make it so much fun to drive on a sunny, warm spring afternoon are completely useless when the pavement is even thinking about getting wet. Forget ice and snow. So when the weather gets crappy, I typically drive the truck. As I’ve said, since I insisted I wasn’t going anywhere, Tom took the truck, leaving me the option of driving his car if I changed my mind. At 7 a.m. I had no intention of changing my mind. By 11 a.m, I wasn’t so sure.

You see, Thursday I was scheduled to get my braces. Not that I was excited about getting my braces, mind you. At one point, I’d actually told my dentist, who also happens to be my brother-in-law (thank god), that I was as excited about getting my braces as I was about getting my colonoscopy last summer. In my defense, it was his fault for asking, but, needless to say, I hurt his feelings. Truth be told, I’ve been balking at getting braces and being a real pain in the butt about the whole thing for more than 10 years already, so I hated to make another stink by asking his nurse to reschedule me and prolong the whole ordeal for us all, especially when other people were out braving the elements. First mistake.

Second mistake: I opened the garage door behind Tom’s car and checked to be sure the wind hadn’t created another drift in front of the door since he had cleared the one earlier that morning. Nope. No drift. I got in the car and backed out…right into a big-ass drift at the end of the driveway. Buried the car up to the axle. Stuck halfway out into the street. Hell’s bells.

So, with no one else in sight to push or offer any other advise, I began rocking the car back and forth with the transmission. Drive…vroooom…spin. Reverse…vroom…spin. Shit. Drive…vroooom…spin. Reverse…vroom…spin. Crap. Drive…vroooom…spin. Reverse…vroom…spin. Sigh. Not an inch. Periodically, I’d glance up and down the street to be sure I wasn’t going to hit anyone else who’d been dumb enough to get out and drive around in the mess. Fortunately–or maybe unfortunately in this situation–our street is really quiet, so it was a pretty safe bet that no one had been up or down the street in some time. For sure, the snowplow hadn’t been. Imagine my shock when–after just having thrown the car in reverse and gunning it–I looked up to see the neighbor kid behind the car pushing with all his might. I never saw him until it could have been too late. I nearly threw up. I think he felt much the same when he realized those were my backup lights shining, not my brake lights. Poor kid. Covered with the snow thrown from my frantically spinning tires and with the wind chill well below zero, he was shaking for more than one reason.

I implored him to save himself (he’s a nice kid–and was very kind to offer his help–but he’s not big enough, even on his best day, to push a fully loaded grocery cart much less my car) and went back to rocking the car while he stood shaking behind the mailbox in bemused silence, watching my efforts. I’m pretty sure he was rolling his eyes, but I tried not to think about that.

Finally, after much rocking (the car), cursing (me), and eye-rolling (the neighbor kid), the car was free and sitting in the middle of the street with me aboard, contemplating my next move. Third mistake. Euphoric from conquering the snow drift, I decided to go ahead and go to the dentist.

Getting braces sucks. I have a new-found respect for those–including my own two kids–who wear or have worn braces, especially the kind with brackets and wires. I’m wearing Invisalign braces that are, for all practical purposes, invisible and that require little more than some tooth-colored wart-like attachments to a few teeth, so I shouldn’t complain. Still, it sucks. I have jaw issues, so holding my mouth wide open for long periods of time is really uncomfortable. Plus, according to my brother-in-law, my mouth is really small. I have trouble believing that–as will those of you who know me–but I can confirm that every instrument they pull out to use on me comes out of a package labeled SMALL. I know. I know. The irony is almost too much to bare. Anyway, the process of putting the little wart-like attachments on my teeth required that the teeth stay really dry, so the hygienist had this contraption they were going to put in my mouth to hold my lips back. It looked like a diaphram with the back punched out. You’ve seem a big-mouth bass, haven’t you? That’s what I would have looked like if they’d ever managed to get it in. My poor brother-in-law fumbled around with the goofy gizmo for several minutes, trying desperately to get it squeezed small enough to put in my mouth. To my tremendous relief and the hygienist horror, the thing snapped. While she ran off in a dither to find another, my brother-in-law chuckled, crammed my mouth full of cotton, and got on with things.

A little more than an hour later, I was back in my car, braces in place, drooling out of the corners of my mouth, on my way home. Now, considering what I went through getting out of my driveway, it’s reasonable to assume that I would take a different tack getting back in. Nope. I wish. But nope. As I neared the house, I noted that the drift across the driveway was much deeper on one side than the other, so I aimed for the other and gunned it. Made it halfway in.

I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say freeing the car the second time around was a bit more involved. I finally freed it on my own–with the help of a shovel, lots of snow-melt pellets, and a sailor’s dose of blue language–but not before making a desperate call to Tom and lisping and slobbering into the phone, “Pwease, come home and hewp me!”

The following day, Tom, Brian, and I repeated the whole what-car-will-you-need-today conversation. After assuring both of them repeatedly that I intended to cancel my piano lesson and stay home–and confident I wasn’t stupid enough to repeat the previous day’s antics–they left in the truck and Subaru respectively.

They don’t know me very well, do they?

Later that morning when I called my new piano teacher, whom I’m never met face-to-face, and told her I thought I’d better cancel my lesson because of road conditions, she offered me an alternate time for a lesson early this week. Before hanging up, however, she informed me that her other students were making it to her house and into her driveway without problems and encouraged me to give it a try. Not wanting to look like a total wimp, I got in the car and drove over there.

I’m happy to report, I got out of my driveway and into hers without incident. It was the lesson that posed the challenge. Not playing the pieces I’d prepared so much as playing them without drooling on myself or all over the poor woman’s piano. A few bars into the first piece, I realized that it was going to be nearly impossible to think about what I was doing while at the same time concentrating on sucking in the spit that threatened to roll down my chin. At the end of the first piece, I turned toward her, head lowered, and mumbled, “Sowwy,” as I wiped the corners of my mouth and tried not to spit on her. She was very kind and…to my total amazement…smiling. Since most of her students are kids, I’m guessing she’s seen it all before.

It’s nearly a week later, and I’m still slobbering and lisping. Worse, my teeth are loose, so eating has become more of a chore than a pleasure. The one upside is I’m having one hell of a good time playing the piano. You’ll just have to ignore the dish towel I have tied around my neck. Oh, and the spit. I apologize up front for the spit.

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