Dr. M and I attended a dinner party of four couples.
It was the second one I ever went to.
Statistically anomalous for eight people, though not for the community of my lovely wife’s acquaintance, five of the dinner party’s attendees were psychoanalysts. I enjoy hanging out with psychoanalysts. They ask questions, and they listen. Participants in show business, for the most part, do neither.
(SHOW BIZ PARTICIPANT POST-MORTEMING A RECENT INTERACTION):
How did it go?
You talked. They didn’t get to.
Along with the sprightly conversational give-and-take, the gathering also included good food and good wine. And brownies. (Good, though not necessarily good for you.) The event broke up at around ten-thirty, which is late for California gatherings, due to the often long commutes home, and some other reason I cannot put my finger on. Maybe the ubiquitous sunshine makes us tired. That’s weak, but it’s all I’ve got.
We arrive home ready for bed and a little tipsy, Dr. M less so than myself. When they refilled her wine glass higher than mine, I immediately switched glasses, explaining, “She’s the driver.” (Explanation Two: They refilled her wine glass higher than mine.)
Sleeping-shirted and in bed, I am already searching for the optimally delicious sleeping position. I adore sleeping, and I cannot wait to get at it. (I have hesitated to write about my enthusiasm for sleeping for fear I might appear slothful and/or depressed, although I am not particularly either. Also, I do not know how sleeping works – specifically, the elusive mechanics of falling asleep and, though my ignorance has rarely stopped me in the past, on this occasion, humility trumps hubris, and I shall, at least momentarily, remain silent.)
So I’m searching for my sleepatorial “Sweet Spot”, and Dr. M is watching TV, which puts her to sleep, especially, inexplicably, when she finds something she really wants to watch. Suddenly, from the floor below us, we are jolted into alertness by this sharp, insistent
We immediately know what it is. A smoke alarm’s – mandatory in these parts – battery has gone dead, and this is the programmed warning that it needs to be replaced. Right now. Because if it isn’t, that “Chirp!” will continue intermittently
My standard “Default Response” in these situations is to pretend I didn’t hear it and continue off to sleep. (I do the same thing with earthquakes.) It never works. Another person in the bed has heard that “Chirp!” (or felt that earthquake) and it is fruitless to pretend it’s her imagination. Once, maybe. But the “Chirp!” is incessant. (And the earthquake is loud!)
(NOTE FROM PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: Though it is beyond explanation – at least by me – the “Chirp!” does not relent even when you take out the battery. Like some Zombie whose heart has been cut out, the thing just continues chirping.)
Dr. M goes downstairs to find a replacement battery. (Why her? She’s the closest to the door.) The smoke alarm needs a nine-volt battery. Her report on her return to the bedroom: “We don’t have any.”
We then think about other devices that take nine-volt batteries we have in the house that we can switch off with this one. But we can only come up with “The other smoke alarms in the house.” Not the answer. That would simply reposition the “Chirp!”
With no choice in the matter, we throw on some clothes and get back in the car, our mission: To find a store open at eleven-thirty P.M. that sells nine-volt batteries.
We back out of our driveway, and head south on Fourth Street, the only way you can head, as a median in the middle of the thoroughfare prevents driving in any other direction.
Our nearest option is a supermarket four blocks away on Lincoln called Albertson’s, reputed to be open 24-hours a day, an unwarranted reputation, it turns out, since on our arrival, it is unlighted and shuttered.
Our late-night adventure, it would appear, will not be that easy.
We continue down Lincoln to the CVS Pharmacy (that also sells batteries.)
Next stop, the Rite Aid (which also sells batteries.)
I’m thinking, “Two pharmacies – closed. We just need batteries. What if somebody needs a prescription filled?”
POLICE OFFICER, FINDING A DEAD PERSON BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THEIR CAR:
“Cause of Death – No Late-Night Pharmacies.”
Sad, but that’s their problem. On we go, searching for batteries.
(TO THE THEME SONG OF THE COWBOY SHOW “RAWHIDE”)
“Driving, driving, driving…oy vay!”
Finally, we arrive at a Ralph’s (which I am informed is open until 2 A.M.) Eighteen-seventy-five for four nine-volt batteries. (We buy extras so we will not have to go through this again. For a while.)
It is now closing in on one A.M. as we head north up Fourth Street, where, again, because of the tree-lined median (along which cars are parked, making our suburban neighborhood street look like downtown Tijuana), we are required to drive past our house, make a U-turn around the median, and then drive back.
At the intersection stop sign, about a half a block north of our house, there is a convenience store – that sells batteries – which traditionally closes at eleven. As Dr. negotiates the U-turn, I check out the convenience store.
It is still open.
That’s correct. We could have walked there for our batteries. But we did not notice it was open, because it was not supposed to be, we were driving in the other direction...
And at least one of us was drunk.