Saturday, June 5, 2010


Whenever I get cravings, it’s very difficult for me to ignore them. So the other night, when I got a craving for a particular cake that is sold in Wal-Mart’s bakery, I grabbed my purse and headed for the door.

“But New Hampshire Chronicles is doing a show about Pine Island Park at 7:30 tonight,” my husband reminded me. “I thought you really wanted to see that.”

“Don’t worry, I’m just going to grab the cake and run. I’ll be home long before 7:30.”

Once I set foot in Wal-Mart, however, instead of heading straight for the cake, I got a bit distracted. For one thing, I couldn’t pass by the great deal on hoop earrings – six pairs for $5 – or the toy markdown aisle, where most of the items were at least 25-percent off.

The dog treats were a good bargain, too, not to mention the paper towels and my favorite hand cream. By the time I was through, I’d nearly filled a cart with stuff. I glanced at my watch. I had one-half hour to get home before the Pine Island Park show started.

As it turned out, the customer in front of me in the checkout line didn’t speak English and had written out her check for only $4 instead of $24. I glanced at my watch again. Only 20 minutes to get home.

Finally, I was on Route 106, heading out of Concord and making good time. All of a sudden, a “dinging” sound I’d never heard before came from somewhere in the dashboard. I glanced at the dashboard. A light shaped something like a headless pig was blinking.

There was a park-and-ride turn-off area up ahead, so I pulled in there and called my husband.

“What’s the light look like?” he asked.

“Kind of like a map of Australia,” I said. “Or a headless pig.”

“That’s your engine light,” he said. “Do you need oil or water?”

“I have no clue! Could you bring me some of each, just in case?”

“Since we moved, I don’t know where any of the containers are or where the case of oil is. Maybe you should just call AAA and let them handle it.”

“You just don’t want to miss the Pine Island Park show!” I accused him. “Well, while I’m sitting here waiting for AAA to arrive, the gallon of your favorite ice cream will be turning into soup in the back seat.”

“I’ll be right there!” he said.

I called AAA. The woman asked the reason for my call, the name and spelling of the town I was in, what road or street I was near, and if there were any landmarks nearby to aid the truck driver.

“Well, I’m on Route 106 in Pembroke in a park-and-ride area across the highway from a John Deere building,” I said.

“Hmmm,” she said. “I’m showing only one John Deere store on here…in Manchester. You said you’re in Pembroke?”

When I said yes, she asked, “Are you in Vermont?”

I knew that the aging process had caused me to forget things more often lately, but I was pretty sure I was still in New Hampshire.

“Any other landmarks?” she asked.

“There’s a go-cart race track next to John Deere,” I said.

“Let me look that up.” I could hear computer keys clicking, then she said, “OK, I’ve got it – I have an address. The tow truck driver will be there in about 45 minutes.”

“Tow truck? Can’t he just pour some oil or water into whatever may need oil or water?”

“No, he can bring you gas, but not oil or water. You’ll have to be towed.”

My husband showed up right after that, checked the oil and water in my car, both of which turned out to be fine, grabbed the groceries and said, “I’ll bring these home and put them in the fridge. Call me when you get to the gas station and I’ll come get you.”

Thus began an hour-long wait. The sun began to set. It got darker and darker. The area where I was parked was surrounded by bushes and trees. I locked all of the doors and slumped down in the seat.

Finally, after 8,345 cars drove past me, I saw a tow truck approaching. I sat up…and watched him drive up to the race-car place. I jumped out of my car and waved my arms at him. He was facing in the wrong direction. He then pulled out of the parking lot, took a left and disappeared up the road.

I could hear a squadron of B-52 bomber mosquitoes flying in formation over my head. I jumped back into my car.

The tow truck reappeared…and went back into the race-car lot. I climbed out of my car again and waved my arms. Up the hill he went, out of sight. At least all of my arm waving was keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

My cell phone rang. It was the lady from AAA telling me the driver couldn’t find me. I told her I could practically throw a rock and hit him.

“Do your headlights work?” she asked.

Yes, but unfortunately they were aimed toward the woods.

I spotted the truck heading down the hill back toward Route 106, so I ran closer to the highway and did everything but turn cartwheels to attract the driver’s attention. The fact that it was pitch dark out by then and I was wearing a black shirt didn’t help matters any.

Finally, the truck pulled into the park-and-ride.

“If they had told me you were in this area, I’d have found you right away,” he said. “The only thing they gave me was the address of the race park.”

By the time my husband picked me up at the gas station, it was after 10.

“I sure hope your cake was worth all this trouble,” he said, shaking his head.

I take back what I said earlier about my mind still being sharp enough to know when I’m in NH and not Vermont.

Honest to God, I forgot to buy the cake.