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Monday, June 14   9:11 PM

Angst And Autos

A few miles out of Stanley, Wisconsin, a town whose only dubious claim to fame is being located next to Thorp ("Home of the Thorpedo"), my muffler detached itself.

On the side of the highway, I popped my hood and waited for someone to stop and help. Someone with a cell phone.

Since no one ever came, this gave me a while to think about the year.

It was undoubtedly fun. Historic parties like Jubb's birthday and Superheroes (and for Our Bold Hero, my 21st) stand out. Good people, good times, and all that. I'll write more on this later, when I'm more nostalgic. For now, on to the negative.

My biggest regret is that my lapse into self-caricature in the latter half of the year lasted so long. If I can't help being a certain way, I'm fine with that. But I think I'm done exaggerating my negative qualities in the name of some private joke.

I suppose I'm being too vague. Don't take this to mean that I've decided to play that same social game everyone has been playing since middle school. I can't take myself seriously enough to even begin to act "cool", and I think that's a good thing.

I'm referring to my misanthropy. I may be a self-proclaimed introvert, but that doesn't mean I should act like I hate everything that makes me uncomfortable. In fact, I should try to be uncomfortable more often, to prepare Our Bold Hero for his eventual entry into the real world.

What's more, there aren't that many people I dislike, and I can't understand why I ever abandoned my second-term plan to "treat people I like like I liked them." That plan even let me patronize people I despise, a vicious and enjoyable pastime. And, since the people I despise tend towards the dimmer wattages, I don't risk any ugly confrontations.

So that's what I'll do: everything I just said.

Of course, there's only so much you can plan to do (and less you can plan to be) before you have to do something, and I was still out in the sun, waiting for a good Samaritan. I started walking towards town.

After about a hundred yards a man in a pickup picked me up and (later!) dropped me off at the Stanley BP. I called AAA and talked to a vaguely foreign-sounding woman. I explained where I was, and where my car was, and she never quite got that "in town" and "a few miles east of town" were not the same location. The conversation ended with this:

AAA: Again, thank you for calling AAA. A towtruck will come to meet you at your car anytime between… let's see… now and… 40 minutes from now. Have a nice day.

There were no good Samaritans driving east that day. To its credit, however, Hwy 29 goes through some beautiful looking farmland as it nears Stanley. The roadside was hot and dry and littered with fishing lures for some reason, but the view was nice.

Fifty minutes later, as I once again deliberated unpacking Something Wicked This Way Comes, which was at the bottom of a crate somewhere in The Deathtrap, a towtruck whipped past at 65 mph. I was a bit suspicious (I'd been waiting for about 15 minutes and one towtruck had already ignored me) but it was actually mine, my towtruck.

When the driver stepped out, he looked like Santa Claus. I explained the problem and he proceeded to root around his truck for a hanger. All my hangers were plastic, but he had one, and only one, metal hanger. Santa tied the muffler pipe to the bottom of the car so it wouldn't drag and I was on my way, my windows down and my miles-per-gallon ridiculously up.

So I'm home, comfortably settled in a familiar rut. It's good to be somewhere where you don't doubt who you "really" are. I'd like to think I'm too mature for an identity crisis.

News? My mom is still in Italy with her tour group, and in the meantime we're keeping the house in a state of perpetual cleanliness, so she won't think we've been living here while she was away.

I had to rearrange my room in order to get my computer up there, and I'm still wondering if that was the right decision. I can't use the Internet upstairs, so I'll have to start typing up my blogs, saving them on a floppy, and walking all the way downstairs to post them from this, my parents' computer. It could be the most exercise I get this summer.

I start work on Thursday, so life has been pretty relaxing. The highlight so far is drinking beers and watching a realistic '60s detective movie called Bullitt with Adam, who's in town for a few days.

And now the carp are running. I'm going to try to stab one.

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