Between the pages of a Simple Machine.
Sara is finding herself at odds with current trends in the cannon of literary theory and I drank tea and listened respectfully ( and somewhat awed, I must admit, finding myself growing suprisingly excited about getting back to the musty old "things themselves"), and tried on shoes she'd decided to get rid of. I was very tired from my early morning train ride from Chicago and eventually dozed off on her sofa after staring sleepily at the Bakhtin reader on her shelf, an indescribably pleasing shade of purple. When I woke up it was rainy and we were late for dinner at my parents house.
We drove in sara's car, navigating circuitously through the burns park neighborhood to avoid being sighted my any Jews returning from synagogue, trangressing the sabbath such as we were. "I can't believe this" I muttered in deep embarrasment as we wound blocks and blocks out of our way to secure a safe parking spot down the street. I told Sara she was the only one who could understand. And she just about is.
After dinner we returned to Sara's and she graciously offered to lend me her car so I could go visit Jorge. Making sure she was set to work productively, I headed out to her parking lot behind the house. It was dark and I backed the car up slowly, very nervous about hitting the truck parked incoveniently at the bend where I had to cut the wheel and guide myself out the driveway. I cleared the truck and breathed a sigh of relief. At that precise moment, I heard a horrible grinding sound and the car stopped with an awful lurch. I got out and discovered, to my horror, that there is a long cement barrier needlessly seperating her driveway from the adjacent one belonging to the house next door. I had driven the car over the median and it was stuck straddling the divide. I guess it made a fair amount of noise and her pajama clad downstairs neighbors quickly appeared to my aid.
"Oh this is bad" Scott observed. "This happened to my friend's car at the gas station last week and she ruined her transmission by bending the axle."
Soon Sara joined us and calmly assured me not to worry. she got in the car and rammed it in reverse humping the right side of the aged Toyota Tercel wagon back on to the right path. The front left wheel remained stuck at the barrier spinning helplessly. None of us could fathom paying for a tow truck. A better solution had to exist. After much debate we decided the best thing to do would be to construct a wedge under the wheel to guide the the car to safety. Using scott's hydraulic jack, we cranked up the car in preparation for the wedge building, but we still lacked obvious materials like planks of wood. I dragged over a cinder block I found by the back porch which we quickly dismissed, for being too solid and foreboding. The rain continued to sprinkle. I leaned on the car feeling monstrously guilty and embarrased. Gazing into the darkened window of her back seat an Idea came to me, which I couldn't bring myself to suggest in complete earnestness. Piled back there were four paper grocery bags of books Sara had been carting around trying to figure out a way to get rid of.
"well, we got all these books" I teased dolefully.
"Haul em out" she ordered.
"you can't be serious."
Books are holy. You can't use them to build a wedge under your muddy car wheel.
Out came the books.
Nathaniel West, Albert Camus, a tourists guide to St. Petersburg. I grabbed them by the fistful and handed them down to Sara who was crouching by the tire.
"keep them coming" she instructed.
Shaking my head in disbelief I obeyed. The more I got used to the idea the more funny it became and the more I started to embrace the scenario.
"Oh good, here's some Phillip Roth" I piped with relish "get that sucker in there tight."
The Organic chemistry course packs were especially prime because they were wide and flexible. I stacked the Tennesse Williams and American Short stories, laying them like erudite bricks in a rickety, desecratory wall.
The only book she refused to use was a cookbook.
Good comparative lit doctoral student.
I almost died of love for her right then.
Eventually we were satisfied with our simple machine. We brought the car down and drew in our breaths. Sara climbed into the drivers seat and once again kicked it into reverse. Without so much as a whisper, the wheel took to our book tower and kissed itself over the wall. Problem solved.
Cheering, we collected the books and found that with the exception of one biology text, whose cover was badly ripped, all the books had survived. We wiped them off and piled them back in the bags, returning them to their sad, waylaid, fate.
I bow respectfully before the manifold usefulness of ideas.