A snail is inching along a person’s front walk. The guy bends down and picks him up and throws him across the street.
A year later, the snail comes up to the guy and says, “What was that all about?”
I went down to the basement to throw something in the recycle box and I stepped right into a puddle. “What the…?” I asked out loud. I heard that awful sound, the rush of water coming from a place it ought not to be: the little weird toilet down there. “Oh no!” I yelled, and panicked, looking crazily for the water turn-off. That basement is an intestinal-like nightmare of pipes and faucets; it almost feels like if you turn the wrong one you will explode something.
“Ned, help!” I thought. His cell was not working. His office phone went right to voice mail. His I.M. was red. He doesn’t check personal email at work. I didn’t have anyone else’s phone number at H.P. My heart was pounding, my ears were filled with the sound of wrongful water. I slammed my hand on the table and went downstairs to look at it again, stepping gingerly through the dark gray murky wetness.
I started to cry. I was wearing a pretty skirt. I wanted to start dinner. I was hot and tired. I had a reading to go to at the Brookline Booksmith.
Ben and Max came down with me. “What do I do, what do I do?” I moaned.
“I can try to find the turn-off,” Max offered. Darling.
Then Ben (BEN!) said, “I’ll help you.” My heart just flopped over. More weeping.
I called all the right people. Within an hour I had a plumber, who took one look and said, “Nope, it’s the drain that backed up. Call a drain guy. That will be $99.” Then I had the clean-up crew come and suck it all out of there, and disinfect it, too. Then the pizza guy came and we ate while the drain guy snaked it out. But eventually we are going to have to bulldoze the front lawn and get rid of the 4 foot wide clay pipes that are disintegrating. That will cost a bit, no doubt.
I felt very — well, drained.
I was able to make it to most of John Elder Robison’s reading. I loved it. He is charming and funny, and does a great job presenting how life looks to him. The room was packed. I asked him a question and he said, “That you, Susan?” Which was cool.
While standing in line to get my book and audio signed a very thin tall young man came up to the woman in front of me and said very slowly, “They said he can’t sign an audio tape.” I realized this young man reminded me a great deal of Nat, except he could talk more. I said, “Oh, he can sign it; just take off the plastic wrapping.” The young man introduced himself as Daniel (eventually) and seemed very pleased to be talking to me, even though it was a little hard for him to talk. I fought to keep my floppy heart steady.
I went outside and Daniel was standing there. I asked him who he was there with. “I came by myself.” It turns out he came in a taxi. I felt bad for him. I think he wanted to be with me some more, and he didn’t want to take a taxi. I offered him a ride, but then I got nervous. It didn’t seem quite right somehow.
Out walks this bouncy old woman who marches up to us and introduces herself as “Grandma Dottie.” Dottie has a grandson Daniel’s age, who has Asperger’s. She saw right away what we were talking about and offered to drive us both where we had to go (Daniel, home; me, to my car in the lot). We got in and the aptly-named Dottie drove off.
Dottie was not from around here so she had no idea where to go. Daniel had a very hard time getting words out. So I realized it was kind of up to me to get us to Daniel’s apartment in Brighton. Directionally-challenged me. So I concentrated really hard to figure out where to go. Now and then, Daniel would interject a direction, moments after we had passed the street. Now and then, Dottie would nearly get us killed with her stop-and-start, left-turn-on-red style of driving. Now and then I would take a deep breath and think, “It’s going to be okay.”
We all eventually got to where we had to be. I was grateful to Dottie, and wanted to hug her, even though she is not my grandma. She so easily could have been. I also was tearfully proud of Daniel for being so brave and independent, even though he is not my son. He could have been.
I got into my car and I said out loud to God, “So what was that all about?”