Do Not Buy a Car from This Man

In our family, we date things according to which hobby Galahad was obsessed with, and  say such things as “That was back when Dad was into radio-controlled cars, right?” and, “No, that happened the year he was building dulcimers.”

It was during the Dirt Track Year, on an evening that had passed the wee hours of the next morning, the children fast asleep, when I found myself waiting to hear Galahad pull in to the driveway.  That welcome sound was finally heard around 2am, but was swiftly followed by the arrival of another car, and… houseguests.  Houseguests at 2 o’clock in the morning?

Galahad had recently spent every spare dime rebuilding the engine on his International Scout.  During the Mud Running Year, he’d pursued that hobby until the engine was toast, and then happily spent the rest of that year repairing, improving, and enhancing the engine to where we now found ourselves, unsurprisingly, in the Dirt Track Year.  Dozens of suburban yahoos would gather out in Elbridge at a banked oval dirt track and race each other, two at a time.  Galahad has always been an outstanding driver, and his competitive spirit knows no bounds.  He was grinning when he strolled in with his companions, so a good guess would have been he’d been out celebrating, but his companions looked terrified.

“Hey, Sweetie!  It’s been a helluva night!”

“Do tell.  Should I assume you were celebrating your victory to the point where these two had to drive you home?”

“Something like that.”

“O-kay…  There’s a story here?”

“Well, it was down to me and a Blazer.  We got there early and between the two of us we blew the competition away.  You should have heard the crowd!  By the time it was down to me and the Blazer, nobody was leaving – everybody wanted to see the last race.”

One of the Terrified Companions chimed in with an “Oh, yeah!” but his partner hushed him quickly and returned to devouring her fingernails.

“So… you won?”

“Well, no.  You might want to come outside.”

If you’ve ever seen a Scout, you know the general boxy shape of them.  Galahad, in the course of the evening, had modified his hardtop into a prototype we could call “Glassless Flattop.”

“What the hell — ?!”

He talked faster now:  “It was down to the two of us, and we were coming into turn 3.  I’d found the right groove, and knew the track by now, but he started to pull ahead of me – took it low coming into the turn – and he kicked up a stone that cracked the windshield.  At that speed, that’s all it took – one moment of inattention, and the Scout went right over the bank – “

“You [censored] rolled it?!”

“All the way over.  The roof was flat to the doorsill.  Lucky for me, the direction of the roll put me flat across the seat –  “

“You should have heard the crowd!  They were roaring – and then it was silence.”  This from one of the Terrified Companions. One look from me and his lips melted shut while his larynx caught fire.  At that moment, I realized what terrified them, and suggested that they had best be on their way home.  No need for witnesses.

“How did you get out?”

“Forklift.  You aren’t mad, are you?'”


A Good Knight’s Sleep, Rudely Interrupted.

It is the wee hours of the morning and although another hour of sleep would make a vast improvement in motor skills and clarity of thought, this is not an option. Thirty-six inches of sleep-matted hair must be untangled and washed before 6am; no small feat. I leave Galahad snoring contentedly, go through my morning preparation process with decades of practiced autopilot technique, and am soon in the shower, head upside-down. This is when I notice the quick movement behind me.

It is an established fact that couples who have been together as long as we have need few words for communication. This is significant because I would normally be incoherent at that hour of the morning, but under the present circumstances I have only one means of self-expression.

I am a singer. My voice has been taught and trained to reach listeners in the back seats of auditoriums. In the dark bedroom, the first thing my husband registers is that an air raid siren has gone off in the tiny, acoustically-enhanced room on the other side of the bedroom wall.


My eldest son once had a wolf spider crawl up his leg. He was only seven or eight years old when it happened, and it was a terrifying experience. Years later, he decided to write about that event for a school essay on “My Most Frightening Experience.” He wrote that “a big spider crawled up his leg” — I told him he wasn’t really sharing the experience yet: “big” wasn’t enough. I told him to remember that spider on his leg, how it seemed to dwarf the houses nearby and block out the sun, just by claiming ownership of his limb and racing upward toward his soul. In his rewritten essay, the spider became “the size of Chicago.”

This morning’s spider is that one’s vengeful granddaddy, and I give him the scream he deserves.

Kevin cannot teleport, but he executes the 50-year-old’s equivalent, stumbling on newly-wakened legs, squinting against the brilliance of the bathroom lights after the pitch dark of the bedroom. I babble; he says nothing, but looks in the direction I am pointing. A few seconds later, he is squashing something into the floor of the shower with a nearby object.

This is true love, nurtured over 25 years of marriage: that I can waken my Galahad from a sound sleep and know that he will come immediately to slay my spider-dragons, and even give me a reassuring kiss before he returns to the land of Nod.