Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Missed By A Milestone"

I recall as a teenager pondering – reflecting the disparity between what I and the majority of other teenaged boys were thinking about – how old I would be when we reached the Millennium. 

Not thinking about cars – uninterested.  Not thinking about girls – unreachable, beyond my overheated imagination.  Instead it was, “How old will I be in the year 2000?”  Who knows?  Maybe other boys pondered that issue as well, but I never asked them, fearing they didn’t.

By the way, the answer was fifty-five.

It was fun being alive for the Millennium.  Not everyone gets the chance.  The explorer Leif Ericson was around for the first Millennium, which I missed by nine hundred and forty-five years.  But I was on hand for the second one.  And “Leif the Lucky” was long gone. 

I guess nobody gets two Millenniums.  Or is it Millennia?  (Of course it’s Millennia.  Enough with the mock humility in Latin!)

I present these indispensible ramblings as a preamble, explaining that milestones have always been meaningful to me.  And not exclusively meaningful milestones.  I remember my first ice cream at Oink’s.

It was therefore aggrieving to experience – and subsequently report – a milestone, which, had I had paid sufficient attention I would have caught and joyfully celebrated but I didn’t and resultantly missed. 

By a single mile.  Which is a lot if you are aiming at a target but I wasn’t so it isn’t.

The situation began innocuously.  If only it had remained that way.

I get into my car to run a four-block errand.  It’s California.  No distance is too short to drive. 

Besides, there are hills.

I slide my key into the ignition.  Remember when you had to do that?  Well, I still do, my ’92 Lexus SC400 being twenty-five years old.  


It’s unfortunate, really.  Lost in the mists of technological redundancy is that iconic “Right of Passage” – a parent handing over the car keys to their newly licensed offspring.  Now they hand over a sensor.  How iconic is that?


As I reflexively look down before the inevitably following “wrist turn”, I catch sight of the “Display Panel”, embedded in the dashboard directly in front of me. 

And that’s when I see it. 

And I immediately feel ill. 

There, displayed in “Neon Green” on the panel’s mileage indicator are six numbers, designating how many cumulative miles I had driven my car.  The numbers I caught sight of that moment were…


I sat unmovingly in my garage, shaking my head – so not entirely unmovingly – in (the Law Firm of) anguish, bewilderment and chagrin.


Indicating one hundred and eleven thousand one hundred and twelve miles of cumulative driving.  And all I could think of was,

“Why didn’t I look yesterday?

During my previous excursion – a mere one drive before – I could have glanced at the mileage indicator – and I did today; it is hardly an unthinkable maneuver – treating myself to an incomparable “Milestone Experience”, responding wildly and exuberantly – admittedly alone, but who else would be interested? – in exultation and delight.

Now I had missed it.  By a single irritating mile.s

Maybe it was Fate.  Or momentary distraction.  Maybe it was bad luck.  But for whatever reason – including no reason at all – I had missed…


And now I was sitting in my car, staring helplessly at…


Lost forever was my chance to see “111111” glowing on my mileage indicator.  I’d had my opportunity, and I blew it.  Now, much as I wanted, much as I hoped, (the words hitting like hammer) it would never… happen… again. 

What, “222222?” 

At my current rate of progress, that would take twenty-five more years.  I’d be ninety-six by then and I probably wouldn’t care.  At any rate, at some point, they would inevitably have taken away my license, panicked by my diminishing motor skills and unfathomable behavior.

“Dad, where were you going?”

“Leave me alone.  I’ve got to keep putting on miles!


Why wasn’t I looking! 

I’d have been so excited.  I’d have recruited a family member to take a picture, and then written about it on my blog.

Well I wrote about it.

But it wasn’t the same.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I did the same thing, although I framed it more as, "Will I still be alive?" When I calculated that I'd be 45, I figured the answer would be yes. I still feel weirdly like we're living in the future.


Anonymous said...

Great entry, Earl. Great concept. Seinfeldian and Pomerantzian.