Sunday, November 1 2020

car day, halloween, and a small correction

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Dear Journal,

Good morning! Happy Sunday, and happy first of November. Hope you all made the most of the extra hour of sleep. Marissa and I decided to stay up late to finish our movie pick, Pan's Labyrinth. As we were closing up the house for the night, the clocks on our phones went from 1:59 AM to 1:00 AM.

"You know who doesn't care about daylight savings?" said Marissa as we trudged up the stairs. "All the dang babies in this house. Those kids are gonna be up an hour early."

Sure enough, when Marissa got Rodney out of his room this morning, he looked like he had been up for hours. He was awkwardly perched on his desk wearing his pajamas and his black Spider-Man mask.

Sip. We've had a good morning so far. We made a clutch decision and ordered McDonald's for breakfast. And after watching church, there's nothing on the agenda today accept for enjoying the Bears game. Even our project board is empty with a whole day to spare.

Yesterday was our long awaited, thoroughly procrastinated car maintenance day. Along with a new car battery to install, our long suffering Honda was sorely overdue for an oil change. Yesterday morning, we poured coffee, and turned to YouTube for some last minute cramming.

"It actually doesn't look too bad," I said. The flashy YouTube outlined the steps required to unscrew the battery and replace it with a newer one.

"Yeah, not even the oil change one looks that bad," said Marissa after we skipped forward to another video. "I'm actually feeling like we can do this."

After raiding Marissa's basement tool stash, we headed outside to get started. We had some trouble getting the battery but, but thanks to Marissa's surgeon-flautist fingers, we were able to navigate the small rusty screws. After snapping the final part into place, I climbed into the car to test the ignition. The engine clicked and roared to life. Success.

2020 11 01 working on the car

"Now the hard part," laughed Marissa. We wriggled our way under the car with a hand full of socket wrenches. Marissa found the bolt that needed to be removed to drain the oil tank. With our heads close together wedged between pavement and metal, we assessed the situation.

"I can see it," said Marissa. "It's right here, but it's way too tight." She handed me the socket wrench. For about five minutes, I struggled to twist the bolt free. With my foot planted on the inside of the tire, I leaned into the wrench with my knee. It twisted free.

"GOT IT," I yelled from under the car. Black oil glugged from the open hole. I quickly slid our plastic bucket underneath and emerged.

"Do you want a towel or something?" said Marissa.

"I don't know," I said, catching my breath. "Maybe not. This is a rare opportunity for me to have my hands and face covered with oil. I think I look pretty cool, don't you?"

Despite our success with the plug, we couldn't get the old filter out. Marissa shot a quick text to our neighbor, and he trotted out into the driveway to join us. Trent handed me a giant wrench.

"I don't want to sound like an asshole," he said with hesitation. "But... do you know how to use one of those?"

"Oh, I absolutely do not," I laughed. Trent chuckled and demonstrated.

"Even with the wrench, I still don't know how I'm going to get the filter out," I said. "Would you mind taking a look?"

Trent flopped on the ground and slithered under our car. He didn't strain, and he barely made a sound. Seconds later, he emerged with the dislodged filter, his arm covered in black oil.

"Oh my gosh, you got it out," I laughed. "I think that would have taken me all day."

We finished changing the oil, the final step being the elaborate sequence of secret dashboard buttons needed to reset the oil life meter. Car day was finally over.

Making haste, I showered, cleaned up the driveway, and together we all changed into our Spider-Man costumes. Alex and Cassie, dressed like a matching pair of hotdogs, stopped by for a quick drink. From across the street, our neighbors stopped their car to gape at the strange site of a family of Spider people sharing drinks with a couple dressed like hot dogs at the base of the driveway.

Even though we hadn't planned on taking Rodney trick or treating, seeing other kids out in the neighborhood, we had a change of heart.

"You can take him after dinner," said Marissa. "He's just so excited, but don't let him eat any candy until you get home."

2020 11 01 spidermen

Rodney and I put our costumes back on, and after a quick photo shoot in the kitchen, we took to the streets. We only saw a few other kids out on the sidewalk, and we had no trouble keeping a safe distance from everyone. Our neighborhood did an admirable job finding safe ways to hand out candy. Individually wrapped ziploc bags laid out on spooky gravestones, arrows and walkways labeled in colorful sidewalk chalk, and friendly waves from across the yard.

Rodney proudly wore his Spider-man mask. He stopped after every house to count the pieces of candy in his sack. "I have TEN pieces," he exclaimed. "This is so great. I'm SO excited. Dada, I love Halloween."

2020 11 01 trick or treating

Before I go, I have a small correction to make. My family rightly pointed out that the story about how I accidentally grabbed a stranger's hand and begged them not to go into the Halloween store actually happened at a hardware store. "Dad willingly going to a mall?" wrote my sister. "Seems like a stretch."

I mention this because I think it makes the story even funnier. The Halloween decoration section of a Hardware store couldn't have possibly had all the scary details I remembered. There was probably no fog machine or employee taunting me in a Scream mask. For all I know, maybe it was just an inflatable Frankenstein, plastic skeleton, and a little boom box playing ghost sounds.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Sunday, everyone.