The weekend had finally arrived, and along with it the premiere of Die Hard 3: Die Hard with a Vengeance. The Projectionist was usually able to get us in to see movies for free, so I thought it would be a good idea to get the Think Tank together for a free screening at the Nutley Theater.
After a quick run to the Post Office to mail out the latest Mongoloid Moose, I ran over to Doug's house to greet him for the first time since his return home from college for the summer. Doug had not yet found a summer job to supplement his non-existent income, so the idea of free entertainment appealed to him greatly. Brian had tried to get Doug a job as a lab animal where he works, but apparently the qualifications were rather strict, even for the control group.
Brian arrived shortly after me, and the three of us decided to kill the six hours till the movie started with a leisurely drive. This drive ended up taking us to CostCo, one of those great price clubs that sell everything in 20 gallon drums. Needless to say, Brian found a wealth of material for his Misadventures in Food Shopping articles, and furiously scribbled notes while Doug and I stared dreamily at the giant industrial-sized cans of processed cheese sauce.
After our mystical journey through the world of bulk food, we returned to Doug's house so he could inspect his contact lenses. Doug had been complaining of irritation in his left eye, and felt that he might have gotten something in the lens. Doug's investigation into this back at his house led to the startling revelation that his contact lens had actually torn in half, not an entirely odd occurrence if you know Doug, who is well reknown for his “Doug Stare.” He was once asked if he had ever shot red beams out of his eyes, and his response had been to ask "Do you mean accidentally or on purpose?" But it would be wrong to let his forceful gaze fool you into believing that Doug is an intense individual. Doug has only two basic facial expressions that appear on either side of the ocular spectrum: a sharp glaring stare that causes dogs to bark uncontrollably and a dull glazed over expression that instills you with the uncontrollable urge to check him for a pulse.
The latter of the facial expressions recalls an incidient that occurred, last week when a group of us went to Pizza Hut for lunch. We left Doug behind to pay the check, and as we left for the car, an ambulance pulled up and expelled two paramedics that rushed into the Hut. Ten minutes later, Doug had still not returned from the building, and we started to fear that the paramedics had mistaken Doug for the injured party.
"Oh my god, he's still walking around!"
"What? Let go of me."
"He's delirious! You check his medical bracelet and I'll get the gurney!"
"Don't touch me! There's nothing wrong with me!"
"Just calm down a minute, sir, and we'll give you a sedative to relax you."
"Well, far be it from me to argue."
With the contacts torn, only two choices remained. Not liking the sound of our Crazy Glue idea, Doug exchanged the fractured lenses for an old fashioned pair of glasses, and so we piled back into my car to take off in the direction of the theatre.
As I was about to pull away from Doug's house, I received the following number on my pager: 11669-3. While appearing to be nonsense to the average person, I automatically recognized it for what it was meant to represent: 1 16 year old girl performing a 69 with me 3 times; the trademark page of the twisted Christopher B.
It was at this point that several mistakes were made in rapid succession.
MISTAKE #1: Not wanting to wait till our next stop to return the page, I ran into Doug’s house to call Chris, leaving Doug and Brian alone in my car, keys in the ignition. This is comparable to leaving a couple of chimpanzees alone in a five-star hotel’s kitchen.
MISTAKE #2: Doug decides that it will be funny if I walk out of his house to see my car pulling away without me. So he climbs into the driver's seat and starts it up.
MISTAKE #3: After calling Chris and inviting him along to see Die Hard 3, I exit Doug's house just in time to see my car pulling away. In an act I attribute mostly to having overdosed on Asian and American action films during the past week in an attempt to build up my adrenaline for DIE HARD 3, I instantly decide that it would really be fun if I leaped onto the side of the now moving vehicle.
The end result of these three examples in poor judgment was my left arm smashing through the right side rear window, instantly shattering it into a shower of glass nuggets that scattered all over the back seat, hood, street, Brian, and me. Remarkably, I came away from the incident unharmed except for a small cut on my left elbow. The Bullet Proof Hyundai, however, was now minus one window.
Looking back on the moment, with all of the bad things that could have happened, and all of the injuries that could have been sustained, I must honestly say that I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I hit the side of that moving car, the glass exploding all around me as I clung to the side of the still moving vehicle (Doug didn't stop the car immediately, as he obviously did not expect me to hurl myself at a moving vehicle), I could practically hear a thundering action film score playing in the background, and the ensuing adrenaline rush was so great that I didn't even get upset about the window. The temporary inconvenience was well worth the price of admission.
With the excitement now behind us, we simply cleaned the broken glass from the back of the car to the best of our ability, swept up the window shards from the street, taped some Chinese Restaurant menus over the now empty window, and parked it in Doug's driveway. We decided that parking a car with a paper window in downtown Nutley (Home of Comics Explosion, the best comic store this side of Metropolis) at night would be too tempting for the lawless juveniles of that evil town, and so we drove off to Chris' house in Doug's monstrosity of a vehicle.
From that point on things went pretty smooth. After picking up Chris and explaining why we were late, we went to the theater and enjoyed our free showing of Die Hard 3. The film was liked by nearly everyone, but I will leave the film reviews to The Projectionist. We stuck around in the lobby after the show was over, discussing the movie and other related subjects until the theater kicked us out and locked the doors behind us, and walked back to Doug's car, which we left parked behind the theater.
This would normally be the end of a night at the movies, but it wouldn’t be a Driving with Doug story if it was.
We all climbed into Doug’s boat of car, and were all settled in for the return trip when it was discovered that the car wouldn’t start. We weren't too concerned at first, as Doug's car usually takes two or three starts before the engine roars to life, but after fifteen grinding turns of the ignition without one even feeble roar, we slowly came to the realization that Doug's car had decided to take a siesta. Thus, in a strange way, this is actually a Not Driving with Doug story.
We trudged back to the theatre to search for assistance, but by now the theatre was dark, locked, and empty. It seemed that we were now stranded. To make matters worse, Chris' lighter chose this time imitate Doug’s car by not working properly, and his desperate need for a fresh coffin nail quickly reduced him to attempt striking sparks off of numerous objects with a piece of granite, including a fence post, a parking meter, the theatre door, and my forehead. The last of these almost worked, and probably would have if I had let Chris work his way down to the skull.
Being the masters of decisive action, we split up into two groups: Doug and Brian returned to keep an eye on the car, and Chris and I walked to the nearest pay phone, where I paged Gary with the intention of having him drive down and jump start Doug's car. Gary quickly returned the page, and when I informed him of the situation, he replied that he was nearby, explaining his proximity with a single, low-spoken word: "Freaks". I wasn’t sure if he was referring to his location, his company, or even us, but time was tight, so I didn't press for details. I gave him our location, and included a last minute request for a fresh lighter for Chris, who was currently attempting to climb a nearby telephone pole in the hopes of lighting his cigarette on a live wire.
I was able to coerce Chris down from the pole with promises of jumper cables and fire, and we returned to Doug's car to wait for Gary. During our half hour wait we were passed by five separate police cars, none of which bothered to stop and ask if they could help four needy looking people standing around a broken down car, or to investigate four devious looking individuals hanging around on a side street well after midnight. Our failure to attract either the pity or suspicion of the patrol cars was either a testament to the inefficiency of the Nutley Police Department, or an indication of exactly how needy and/or devious the four of us actually appeared.
Gary finally arrived with his own car and jumper cables, but unwisely forgot Chris’ much needed replacement lighter. It took all three of us to prevent Gary's untimely demise at the hands of an enraged, nicotine-starved Chris. After subduing the increasingly irrational Chris, we faced the cars towards each other and raised the hoods. This was when we remembered that none of us had even the slightest mechanical or automotive proficiency, and even the basics of jumping a car eluded us. It took us about ten minutes to find the car batteries, and another ten minutes to decide who was going to be the one to try their luck with the cables. Lucky me, I drew the short straw.
On reflection, I would like to offer some basic guidelines to any completely and shamefully inexperienced readers who might find themselves in a similar situation:
RULE #1: Do not store jumper cables with the positive and negative ends attached to one another.
RULE #2: If you do happen to store the cables with the positive and negative ends clamped together, you will have to unclamp the one end when you go to attach it to the first battery. When you do so, do not leave the positive and negative clamps at the other end of the cable attached, as they will spark when the cable is hooked up to the first battery.
RULE #3: Do not leave the still-attached end of the jumper cables lying in dry, overgrown grass while attempting to hook the other end to the car battery, as the sparks from the attached ends will easily set fire to the dry grass.
Needless to say, the above directions were blatantly ignored, and we were forced to spring into immediate action to put out the quickly spreading brush fire. This was made even more difficult by the need to simultaneously wrestle Chris to the ground in order to prevent him trying to light his cigarette by sticking his head in the flaming grass.
The fire was eventually doused, resulting in several singed jackets, one irreparably charred sneaker, and a delirious Chris, who was on the verge of tears as he watched us extinguish his last chance at a smoke. We were now a little more versed in jumper cable etiquette, and our second try resulted in a successful and completely non-hazardous connection. It was all for naught, however, as Doug's car still refused to start. It was obvious to us now that Doug's car was broken far beyond the mechanical abilities of any of us, which isn't really saying much. We once again split up into two parties; Doug and Brian waited with the car once again while Gary, Chris and I took off in Gary's car to pick up some refreshments to ease the passage of time until help arrived.
We quickly returned to find no Doug or Brian, and a note attached to the abandoned car’s windshield. Doug's father had came and picked the duo up, and they had left the car with the intention of having it towed the following morning. So we finally rendezvoused at Doug's house bearing a case of Coors, a six pack of Zima, and a bag of Beef Jerky, and spent the rest of the night engaging in activities culled from Gary's big book of drinking games.
And yes, Chris finally got a light. So it was a happy ending all around.
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