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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How To Save A Life

Without my sister in-law, I'm no super hero. (please see this post, Billy Don't Be A Hero for reference) In fact, I am down right boring by myself. Thankfully for the latest dead guy, my hubby was there ready to help me save another life.

Deb and I were quite happy being the Double D Death Defying Duo. We were not in search, or in need of a third wheel. But there I was, without Deb, driving back from an extended weekend at Lake of the Ozarks, when we saw a man driving on the wrong side of the divided highway.

Awkwardly laughing Mr. Lane pointed him out to me. "Lo, check out that guy. What an accident waiting to happen. Too bad my sister isn't here. You two crazy bitches could save him."

"Holy shit! That is not funny! Get your cell. Call 911! This guy is going to kill someone, or himself!"

This guy was by all rights, Dead Man Driving. I'm no Superman, (second option for title of this post and another great song) but there we Lanes were, and even though I call him Mr. Lane, I was going to need him to step up to the plate and be this dead guy's Superman.

Handing me his phone, Mr. Lane slowed down so we were in perfect alignment with him. He began beeping the horn. "We have to stop him! Oh, honey, back off! If he hits head-on he is going to cross the median and land on us!"

"I didn't know seeing into the future was one of your super hero powers."

"Shut up and back off! You aren't even smart enough to be Superman are you? Superman knew when to shut up. Superman knew when to listen to Lois Lane. And I swear to God, I will break out the Kryptonite lip gloss for the kiss of death! Do not tempt fate. Keep beeping!"

We were beeping insanely at him from the right side of the road, but the man never flinched. There were so many near misses, as cars and trucks came toward him head-on, swerving in the knick of time.

By then I was on the phone with a 911 operator, saying, "Send someone, hurry. We're on I 54. Honey, what mile marker are we at? I haven't seen one for miles. I don't really know the area. Wait, okay, wait. I just saw a sign for oh shit, wait. No, wait, Jefferson City. We just came out of Jefferson City. Yeah, that's where we are, I mean were, Jefferson City, yeah." (that was a verbatim quote that Mr. Lane and the kids keep reminding me of... they have even threatened to request a copy of that 911 call just to make fun of me)

Continuing with the 911 call, I added, "And there's this guy, and he's old and about to die, well not die, dead, but knockin' on heaven's door. What I'm trying to say is that he is driving on the wrong side of the highw.... Oh shit! Sorry ma'am a semi almost hit him head-on. We're trying to beep and get his attention but he's just driving along like he doesn't realize he is on the wrong side of the road. And, oh fuck! Jesus H Christ! Yes, sorry ma'am, oh crap! That was so close! He probably thinks everyone else is driving crazy. You have to send someone fast! Hello?"

The silence on the other end made me think she hung up on me or I lost the signal. Or maybe she was laughing so hard at my frantic description that she couldn't even breathe.

"Hello? Ma'am?"

"I dispatched an officer. They'll be there soon. Thank you."

"That's it?! Ma'am? Hello? She hung up! How could she hang up?!"

"Maybe there's another dead guy that needs saving and she knows you have your hands full right now," Mr. Lane joked.

"Not funny! Oh my God, beep louder or longer or oh shit."

The kids had their faces pressed against the backseat window the whole time.

Still beeping insanely, and now off of the phone, I tell the kids to assume crash position. I don't think they really know what I meant by that. In fact, I'm not so sure I did either. But there was a heavy amount of traffic coming up over the curved hillside, and I knew this scary adventure was about to come to an abrupt end.

I wanted to save my kids lives, myself and of course Mr. Lane, but that dead old guy driving really needed my super hero skills more than anyone. Being a super hero is exhausting.

Death is weird. People see it in so many different ways. I'm in a stage where I am hopeful that your dead loved ones watch over you. Maybe it's childish, maybe it's real. I don't really know.

Did Dead Man Driving have someone to watch over him, swerving those trucks and cars away from him, or was he going to be the one to watch over those he was about to leave behind?

This somewhat new feeling I have about dead people has made me stop at the baseball games on TV. I find myself squinting to see the score on my tiny bedroom TV. If I try to flip through really fast, without seeing the score, I feel almost as if I'm tapped on the shoulder.

My dad saying, "Put it back and let me see the score."

The other night, ninth inning, the score was tied at 4, Cubs were at bat, I change the channel and feel the oh-so-familiar tap. I can practically hear him say, "Lois! It's a tie in the ninth inning! You can't change it now! What are you nuts?!"

"Maybe I am dad," I say aloud, as I put the game back on. "I am talking to you, and allowing you to tell me what to do. Are you kidding me? You didn't have this much power when you were alive." I looked around my room, shaking my head at myself. I kept the game on until the end. The Cubs won. Maybe it was Dad's mojo giving them luck, who knows. There's a strange comfort in watching the ballgame with your dad, even if he isn't really there.

On Tuesday George Carlin's last comedy album will be released. I bet as his family listens, they'll feel like he is sitting right there with them.

When recording it, he knew he was nearing the end of his life. Early reviews are in, and many are saying this is some of his best work. I've read that he talks about outliving friends and not fearing death, plus offers plenty of fuckery along the way. I'm really excited to get my hands on a copy of "It's Bad For Ya" because I know how much my dad admired George Carlin. Plus, he reminded me of him.

When he was sick, I mean really sick, my dad would say stuff to my mother like, "What's a guy gotta do to get a cup of coffee in this dump? I'm dying over here!"

The first few times he made a crack like that, Mom gave him a crack of her own upside his head. Eventually, dying became a part of his daily dialog of humor. Even Mom got in on the action. And it seemed they were both dying to have the last laugh.

"Starvation is going to get me before the cancer! Where the hell is my dinner?"

"I think death by beating will kick in first if you don't stop talking to me like that."

"Oh real nice. Is that how you talk to someone who is dying? Next I suppose you'll be making fun of my hair falling out, right?"

"You were missing your hair long before chemo got a hold of you, Badly Locks."

They would go back and forth for hours, like two insult comics at a roast. What was supposed to be a traumatic time, somehow, they found the strength to joke and laugh. The same way George Carlin probably did.

Was Dead Man Driving having a last laugh? Was he on a suicide mission? Was he looking to go out in a blaze of glory before something devastating took his life? Was he just really that unaware of where he was and what was going on?

Holding the horn down in a constant beep, the Dead Man Driving, finally turned his head toward us, raised his arms in a "what the fuck," or a baby's "all gone" position, and swerved his car, exiting the highway, by way of the on ramp, driving away as if nothing had happened. For miles down the road we Lanes nervously laughed about what we witnessed. I told Mr. Lane I couldn't wait to talk to his sister to tell her we have a new member in our super hero club.

I called, telling my sister in-law the entire story, and said, "Deb he honked like the wind, and it worked! Now we are going to have to change our name to the Horn Honking Heroes. We saved that Dead Man Driving's life!"

Is it entirely too corny to say, I wish I could have beeped my horn for my dad? I miss him a lot.

There's still time to enter the contest for an autographed copy of Bud Buckley's new CD. Please see the post below for more information.