The day started out fine. I slept well and woke at 4:30 to email a fellow author who’s ghostwriting a book on The Power of Positive Thinking. I’d promised a few examples of my own philosophy. You know, the kind of stuff that is infused with optimism and oozes rhapsodic enthusiasm?
The email was more of a treatise on coping mechanisms, or “How to be happy when the world around you crumbles. ” I recommend “taking pleasure in the little things” and cited some examples that have helped me in the past, such as soaking in the sunrise or absorbing the winter beauty of a wheat field glistening with ice. If all else fails, I list the things for which I should be thankful, such as: “At least I’m not laying in a ditch in Iraq like our poor, brave soldiers, ” or “I’m not riddled with cancer. ”
I know. It sounds downright naive. I’ve been called a male “Pollyanna, ” before. But heck, it gets me through those tough times and… it actually works!
After writing, I showered, made my lunch, kissed my grandsons goodbye, and slipped into my parka. I fumbled around for my car keys. They were missing! I shrugged, decided to solve the mystery later, and grabbed the spare set. I ventured out into blackness of the early morning and headed for the car. The lights didn’t come on when I opened the door. A sinking feeling settled in my gut. There were my keys, dangling in the ignition, turned to the “ACC” position!
Daughter #3, home from college for Thanksgiving, retrieved something from the van and apparently turned on the key for some mysterious reason. There they’d remained over the long weekend.
I rummaged around the barn and found a set of cables. Next, I ran back to the car, grabbed a spare key for my mother-in-law’s car, and nosed it into position. In the pitch dark, I felt around for the hood release on my van. Where was that darned lever? I couldn’t find it. I grabbed the flashlight that had been smugly waiting for such an emergency in its holder since last Christmas, and searched again. There was NO latch!
Against every fiber in my being, I admitted that I needed to read the blasted manual. I found it after scrabbling around in the glove compartment. The print was tiny – I needed my cheapo drugstore reading glasses. I keep a pair on my bedside table and at work. I sighed, then remembered a rogue pair that was tucked inside my jacket pocket from my last book signing.
For the next five minutes, I flipped through the deceptive “easy owner’s guide” until I finally found a diagram of the car. There was a hood release, but it looked like it was on the seat bottom. I got on my knees again and searched. I pushed and prodded and pulled everything in sight. I scrutinized the diagram again with fingers covered in grease. Wait a minute! Did I read the diagram wrong? Maybe it’s on the lower left side near the gas tank lever! I dropped to my knees again. There it was, hidden around the corner so that I had to crane my neck inside the car to actually see it.
Good for deterring car thieves; bad for stupid new van owners.
The hood was up. I hooked up one side of the batteries. Red to positive, black to negative. The cables wouldn’t stretch from battery to battery. I needed another measly inch. I sighed, got in the other car, backed it up, and nosed it in closer. So close, that my riotous rose bush caught me each time I squeezed past it. Finally, it was done. The van roared to life.
But alas, it wasn’t over.
Breathe. Just breathe.
The radio flashed the word, “Code” and the clock was blank. A faint memory tickled in my brain… the security system! The salesman gave me a card with a code on it. Where had I stashed it? There it was, in my wallet. The only problem was, I couldn’t read the fine print. I patted my pocket for my glasses. They weren’t there. No, they were stuck on my peanut butter toast. I cleaned them off, reset the code, and headed to work.
I grumbled. Then the sun started to rise. The sun kissed the undersides of clouds that glowed gold, gray, and lavender on the horizon. As I drove north, the rays reached higher, splitting the pale pink fingers of dawn.
I started to feel good again, optimistic about the day, and actually looked forward to reconnecting with my colleagues at work. Then I spied the railroad crossing. I was already late for work, and prayed that I’d get across without having to stop.
The lights flashed and the guardrails came down. I put the car in park and laughed at myself. Out loud. It was a belly laugh. And it felt great.
Ah, the power of positive thinking.
Now, how do I reset that infernal dash clock?
Aaron Paul Lazar lives in Upstate New York with his wife, three daughters, two grandsons, mother-in- law, dog, and four cats. After writing in the early morning hours, he works as an electrophotographic engineer at NexPress Solutions in Rochester, New York. Additional passions include gardening, preparing large family feasts, photography, cross-country skiing, playing a distinctly amateur level of piano, and spending “time” with the French Impressionists whenever possible.
Although he adored raising his three delightful daughters, Mr. Lazar finds grandfathering his “two little buddies” to be one of the finest experiences of his life.
Double Forte', the first in the LeGarde series, was published in January 2005. Upstaged, number two, is now available for purchase. Mazurka, number three, is ready to go to press. With eight books under his belt, Mr. Lazar is currently working on the ninth book in the series.