I finally located a parking place, a “country mile” (in the city of Athens) from where Janice and our guests exited the car. While they grabbed an outside table at Ambrosia, our favorite Greek taverna in Koukaki, one of our favorite sections of the city, I had gone “in search of” a place to hide the Hyundai.
The last thing that Janice said to me was, “Don’t forget the umbrellas!” Her normally accurate meteorological clairvoyance was in anticipation of what certainly seemed to forecast sprinkles of rain in the imminent future. Locating three nearly functioning umbrellas beneath the front seats, I hid the after-market GPS, climbed out of the vehicle and fumbled with the car key, in the futile attempt to lock the doors.
Falling from my hands, the key with its weighty electronic security apparatus seemed to sing a sinister song back at me as it landed on the street grate beneath my feet. In one of those slow motion moments, my already slow-motion brain joined up with my temporarily non-functioning vocal apparatus, itself a rare occurrence for me. Inaudibly, I whined and whimpered helplessly, as the cognitive reality of what I was witnessing slid slowly into some dusty, distant and slightly-used portion of my brain. It was a lot like being in a dream, where you try to scream, but can’t!
At last, something like “Oh, no!” (edited for publication) was released from deep within the chest of my fearful soul. Targeted to no one on the street (or in the world, at all), my angst was entirely directed internally, since I was, in that terrible moment, the sole companion to myself. In some combination of disgust, self-loathing and that universal sense of personal impotence, I watched in horror as the car key bounced on top of the sewer grate and ultimately fell through one of the too-large spaces between the heavy metal bars of the drain cover.
No dummy, I knew immediately that I was as deep in trouble as was my now-still-sinking car key in the sludge. Walking head down in the twilight streets, all the way to the restaurant, I rehearsed my embarrassing report and the plan for rescue that I had quickly devised. While Janice and the others enjoyed a great Greek meal, I, the lonely and long-suffering hero, would catch a cab back to the house, retrieve the other ignition key and return as the rescuer, hungry but successful. In her wisdom, it was patently obvious to Janice that we should simply manually lock the doors, leave the car on the street overnight, catch a cab home after dinner and return tomorrow by trolley to retrieve the car. No need for Bob’s heroics.
On the next day, I stopped by to see my neighborhood friend who owns the key store. In an intriguing combination of my stammering Greek and his “pretty good” English, he delivered the bad news. The replacement key would cost 80 Euros (over $100!) and he could not make the key unless I brought the car to him and proved that, indeed, I was the owner. It’s only money, right?
Well, I am convinced that there are “higher lessons” to be learned and that the moral consequences of this story are obvious and numerous. Talk amongst yourselves! Readers are encouraged to use their imaginations and build personal applications about life’s fragility, human incompetence, the role of “luck” or “karma” or human incompleteness or mankind’s propensity toward klutziness and the occasional lack of manual dexterity, even among the most deft and adept among us. Ever the martyr, I’ll accept the exalted role of moral pedagogue in this. Go ahead! Use me, if you must! Learn from my (all too human) mistakes!
For me, I’ll just point out that it did NOT, in fact, rain that evening. SO, in a stereotypically warped instance of self-serving male logic, I am convinced that the loss of the key is, in fact, all Janice’s fault. If she hadn’t insisted that I bring those umbrellas…. Well, you understand!