Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The One With the Heartwarming Christmas Story

I can't deny it. I am a sucker for a sappy Christmas story. I can't help myself. I love "Gift of the Magi." What follows is a story from my first year of marriage, that is my own personal version of "Gift of the Magi." The only difference is, that my story doesn't really end with a moral. And, it doesn't involve gift-giving. Okay fine. It is not even heartwarming. But it is true. And pretty funny...at least in retrospect. And given the "Magi" reference, I will try to endow it with a moral, charm and heartwarming style, even if the story itself is lacking in all three.

It was the winter of 1984. DK and Victoria were poor college students. They lived in a cozy little upstairs condominium in quaint downtown Orem, Utah, furnished with nothing but love. Well, love...and all the wedding presents they received from two wedding receptions. Oh, and some pretty happening oak tables and a couch/loveseat combo in plush blue velvet. Despite the snow on the ground and the chill that crackled in the air, DK insisted on riding his motorcycle to school, so that Victoria could take their only car to work at the law office.

A word or two about the car: It was a two-toned Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Brougham Edition. Very posh. It only had one little flaw (well, besides the fact that it was two-door, and in the coming years would, most inconveniently, house three car seats. But that was not really the car's fault. We might blame that particular inconvenience on DK and Victoria, or on car manufacturers for not inventing the mini-van until about 1987, or perhaps more fairly, on the failure of every contraceptive known to man. But, I digress...). The Cutlass was a lovely, comfortable car, a joy to drive...until the temperature dipped below about 30 degrees. Then it had just one slight problem.

Victoria was driving home from work one early evening in the near-dark of that cold December. Beautiful lacy snowflakes fell, swooping away just before touching the windshield, and sparkling in the headlights. Suddenly a piercing sound startled Victoria, drowning out the Christmas music coming from the premium sound system. It was an awful blare, varying in pitch, deafening and unrelenting. The car horn. It was stuck. Victoria quickly pulled over, and began to pound on the steering wheel. After a few moments, relief. The horn shut down, and Victoria's heart rate began to settle back into the safe zone.

Shaking, she drove the last two miles home, and parked in her reserved parking place, there in the carport under the window of their little apartment in the hundred-unit complex. Victoria perused her pristine Pillsbury cookbook, looking for the perfect recipe with which to surprise DK's taste buds on his return home that night. She was barely halfway through Meat and Poultry, when a horrifyingly familiar sound reached her ears through the closed window...the horn was blaring away again. Victoria did what any rational person would...she hid. As the horn blared on for a full two minutes, she sat on the floor behind the couch, clutching the phone. She frantically called DK at his work. DK was a mature man of 22, and he tried to calm his young 20-year-old bride. "Go down and hit the steering wheel again...shut it down..." he encouraged. "I can't, " she replied rather shrilly. "I'm hiding right now."

DK arrived home at about 9:00 that evening, to find that our young heroine had moved the Cutlass out of the carport, and into a parking space thirty or forty yards from the condo. He was tired from work, and while he listened sympathetically to Victoria's description of her traumatic evening, in his heart, he could not quite believe that the sound was so terrible. The two of them fell fast asleep, huddled together against the cold of the night.

At 2:30 in the morning, Victoria awakened to the distant, but still startlingly loud sound of the car horn blaring. She pounded DK awake. "KH! Do you hear that? That is the car horn. You have to make it stop!" DK patiently climbed out of bed, put on his shirt, pants, shoes and coat, and headed out to the car. He pounded on the steering wheel and made the sound stop. He trudged back to the apartment, undressed and went back to bed. Only thirty minutes passed before it happened again. "DK! Please make it stop! It is going to wake the neighbors!" This time DK threw on his pants, shirt and shoes, and went out to stop the offending sound. By the time it went off for the third time at about 3:30 a.m., DK did not bother with the shirt and pants. He jogged down to the Cutlass wearing nothing but untied shoes and his Mormon underwear...

By this time, DK was tired and cold. He opened the car, ripped out the fuses, slammed the door and headed back to the apartment. Only this time, he was greeted by a whole welcoming committee of fellow residents, who had also been awakened by the repeated horn blaring. Victoria and DK's next-door neighbor asked if there was anything he could do to help. DK just stood there in his underwear, smiled, and said "No, thanks. It's all under control." Completely nonplussed, he marched past the onlookers, kicked off his shoes and went back to bed, falling asleep within moments.

Now, if there is a moral to this story I honestly don't know what it is. But I must observe that over the ensuing years, DK remained calm and steady under pressure, impervious to embarrassment. This calm did eventually rub off on Victoria, and having sons gradually rendered her insensitive to any small embarrassments, inuring her to all but the most profound humiliation. Gone are the days when she might cower in the dark because of a blaring horn. These days it would take, say...flames. We must not make light of that, either, since the family Suburban did actually catch fire in the high school parking lot one year (which event, while it did cause our heroine to flinch in embarrassment, was unquestionably the highlight of Casey's senior year).

We leave our young newlyweds, then, happy and snug in their little condo in Orem. There were many more cold Decembers to folow...but none with blaring horns, as DK and Victoria never could figure out how to replace the fuse in the Cutlass, and thus went hornless until 1989, when DK surprised Victoria with a Dodge Caravan. Romance is not dead. They lived happily ever after, at least for the almost quarter century since then... and at this juncture, DK would probably say, "25 years? Are you sure that's all? It seems like so much longer..."

I know... O. Henry does it so much better...

12 comments:

Erika said...

Love the sap! Keep it coming!

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

Could you please post every single day! I think you could fit it in. You could drive to Seminary EVERY day and then post. It would work out perfectly for me.

Tyler said...

I never heard about a flaming suburban so can I make a request to read or here the story. I will make a special trip down to here it... how does this Tuesday sound? EHH? Ehh? I'll come down and then you can tell me all about it.

ty

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

When are you posting another Christmas story?

Victoria said...

Alright, Garden Weasel. I'll post tomorrow. Tyler, what are you, Canadian now? ehh? I seriously never told you about the day the Suburban caught on fire, and the had to call the fire department? It was the kind of day Casey lives for. So come home, and I'll tell you the whole story. Don't get snowed in at Seattle!

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

I never thought of you as a the hiding kind. i imagine you would have just gone on with your day pretending the sound bothered you, too!

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

My heart is very chilly. Can you blog another heartwarming story, please.

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

My heart is like that horrible Foreigner song.....

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

um....I don't think you are committed enough to this blog (and me)

Victoria said...

To the blog... perhaps not. I am feeling rather under-inspired this week. But as for you... I always have your back. Do you want to go to lunch?

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

I did but I had to run some errands. I wish we had gone instead. i did get Sam a nifty birthday present...and Adam 10 pair of underwear (or is it pairs)....

I have nothing for my blog. It isn't even remotely funny, entertaining, cathartic and that is what I think...who knows what others think

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

hey, it has been too long since you have blogged.