Dude. Where’s My Car?


Your two-party perspective.

by Cherri Ellis

I do love a party with a theme. I once attended a gathering with some other women that was sort of a competitive Mexican Fiesta Cocktail Bash. The invitation stipulated that every guest bring the Mexican dish of their choice and prizes would be awarded for the best. I cannot recall if beverages were included in the contest but I do recall there being plenty of them there. I went with Kathy and Vanita in Kathy’s car, because if there is an option other than me being behind the wheel of a car people usually take it. (I think it’s due to my tendency to multitask, but I don’t ask, because it serves me so well.)

The three of us became friends the day our daughters were registered for the same kindergarten class, led by the angelic, now retired Mrs. Ponder. We all lived in the same neighborhood a couple of streets away, so we quickly grew into a sort of rotation between our houses, scooting the girls between activities and other excuses for the mommies to play. This was one of those nights, so we split a sitter and had all the girls happily stashed at one home. When they picked me up, Vanita humbled me with her ability to support the night’s theme in yet another way:  She was wearing a giant Southwestern swirl skirt literally covered in multi-colored bugle beads. It was blinding. We loaded up our Mexican concoctions and hit the road.

The party turned out to be a smash, with every element just a little better than it could have been. Plentiful food, laughter, conversation and beverages flowed. When it was time to leave, Vanita and I gathered up our dirty dishes and headed to the car, with Kathy signaling us across the room that she would just be one more second. We piled into the car, which was a little way off since we had been late arriving, and started quietly chatting while we waited on Kathy. She took so long that we eventually went from laughing about stuff that had happened at the party to making up reasons why she was still inside. We started with, “Bless her heart, she is so sweet, she wouldn’t leave until she knew the kitchen was clean,” and quickly degenerated into “I guess Kathy spotted an available man on the horizon, and now they can’t get her away from the window.” More time passed. When Kathy still failed to appear, we sat in silence, watching the moonlight bounce off the beads in Vanita’s skirt every time she shifted. The smell of the Mexican leftovers became impossible to ignore, and we finally got back into one of the containers for a little snack, but by this time we were getting really irritated. Adding to our discomfort was the fact that the car was getting hot. Evidently two women — one of whom was wearing 20 pounds of beaded fabric and one who was balancing a Mexican casserole on her lap — can really put out the BTUs. Not having the keys to start the air conditioner, we kicked off our shoes, but the car was getting increasingly stuffy. I finally threw open the door in a huff, ready to flounce back into the party to physically drag out our driver, when I spotted her a few cars away walking towards us. “What have you been doing?” I demanded. “Looking for you,” she replied.  “That’s not my car.”

It seems she had indeed helped clean up the kitchen, but when she went to her car and we weren’t in it, she waited for a while then went back inside to look for us. Unbelievably, the neighbors had hosted a party  the same night that was also well-attended, and we had been sitting in the car of one of their guests.  Mortified, we scrambled out, leaving the car’s owners to wonder why it smelled like Mexican food on their drive home.

Whenever I feel unlucky, I need only imagine that car’s owner coming out from a dinner party to discover two barefoot women eating Mexican food in his car, and I realize that life has indeed spared me many indignities. There might be nobody luckier than me, actually.

It is political season, and that means there is going to be a lot of angst in the air.  Of all the sensitive issues to discuss -— money, religion, abortion, taxes — the subject of politics is easily the most charged because it encompasses all of the others. I am always saddened and a little afraid when I see the ways people’s faces change as they become deeply engaged in defending whatever their core issue is. Emotions take over, and it is easy to forget that there is another side to every story. Opinions are shaped by circumstances. If your circumstances are not the same as someone else’s, then most likely you two are looking for different things out of your government at any given time. One gorgeous aspect of living in the United States of America is that we choose our leadership every four years. We are a country that takes pride in continually defining itself, and that is because we are slowly teaching ourselves to tolerate each other. This election, I fear the rancor will be at an all-time high. I respectfully ask that we save our vehemence and force ourselves to not be so dogmatic. Nobody is right about 100 percent of anything 100 percent of the time.

Always remember that there is the teensiest, tiniest possibility that you just might be in the wrong car.

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