A Matter of Timing

On Friday morning steel gray clouds scudded across the sky and a restless breeze washed over the neighborhood, heralding bad weather to come. Hoping for rain, I ducked into my car and turned the key, then glanced over my shoulder as I sped down the driveway, later for work than usual. Then a thought struck me and I lurched to a stop a few feet from the road. My sunglasses, unnecessary that morning, were still in the house. It may have been too shady for shades, but the sun could break through later, leaving me to squint my way home again at the end of the day. I pulled up the parking brake, unclicked my seat belt, and threw open the door.

At that precise moment, the sprinkler in the front yard sprang into action. After the last cycle the head had come to a stop facing the driveway and now, with no warning, it burst on, hurling morning-cold water at my face, my skirt, the inside of my car. I spluttered, jumped out of my seat, and slammed the door, then sprinted onto our porch and out of range. As time ticked, I paused to wipe the drops from my face and watch the sprinkler sweep across the yard, dousing everything in its path.

I laughed, of course,  and shook my head. I had to. It had been that kind of week, every day filled with miniature disasters, every night spent in tense tossing instead of sleep, every email and phone call left unanswered. This Friday morning comedy routine only added to it all with such perfection. I wanted to put it in a novel, down to the promise of rain hovering above the scene as if foreshadowing the whole event. It was, however, too well-timed to be real, too slapstick to be believed, and therefore too weird for fiction.

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  1. Kyle said,

    Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    LOL… Isn’t it funny how that works? It’s in the “nobody would ever believe this” vein of thinking, right? Crazy, crazy stuff… You just need to tweak the facts a bit… Have a bolt of lightning from the forthcoming storm hit your metal car right as the sprinkler is drenching you and the car, then have the electric charge pass through your body (not harming you, by the way, save for the superpowers you’ll soon learn you have), travel backwards through the stream of water, into the ground, and set the crab-apple tree in your front yard on fire, while simultaneously causing the underground gas line to explode, catapulting the manhole in the street to fly into the air over a mushroom cloud of smoke and flame, and bursting off all three caps of a nearby fire hydrant, which puts out the tree, the gas line fire, and provides a nice geyser for the local children to play in.

    That wouldn’t be too weird, right?

  2. somewhat voluble said,

    Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    It’s good to have a sense of humor about what would normally be a mishap. :)

  3. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 6:07 am

    That’s life.. Stranger then fiction. Amazing description. I could totally picture the scene. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Caryn, three words: Art imitates life.

    Your Friday morning belongs somewhere between The Wizard of Oz and The Twilight Zone. ;)

  5. Robin said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Is it wrong that I’m laughing? Not at you. No, no, no. I’m laughing with you! I’m a slave to my sunglasses too, and would have most likely landed in the same predicament as you. Only you’ve got much more finesse. ;)

  6. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 8:38 am

    LOL, Kyle! You’re right — it’s not that it was too strange for fiction; it simply wasn’t strange enough. ;-)

    Thanks, Somewhat Voluble. On a different day I might have been more annoyed than amused, but it was just so absurd, and since it was one of the better (or, really, least bad) to have happened that week, I had to smile.

    Thanks, Keri! Now if only everything in my life would wrap up perfectly like in a novel, right?

    So true, Kath! So true.

    Laugh away, Robin. I did, and I’m the one who arrived at work soaking wet.

  7. Amy said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 8:44 am

    LOL! Definitely one of those items filed under, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

  8. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 8:45 am

    That is what I find so frustrating about writing fiction. If you were to put something like this in a book, people would say, “Oh, this wouldn’t happen in real life.” And yet that’s where all the best stuff is happening! (Hope this week is better for you!)

  9. Pam said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I’ll take laughter over tears any day. Hope this week is better.

    *pom pom happy vibes*

  10. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Amy, I love things like that, though they are usually more amusing and less frustrating.

    No kidding, Sandi! But very strange things *do* happen in real life, all the time. And thanks for the good wishes. I’m wishing you a good week too — preferably one without computer problems!

    Me too, Pam. You have a good week, too!

  11. Alyson Noel said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    LOL! I would’ve risked the sprinklers for my sunglasses too– can’t live without ‘em!

  12. Katie said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Come on, Caryn – admit it. You needed a shower. That really is a rough start to a day, though. I know. It’s happened to me before, too. I hope next week goes better!

  13. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Cue Twilight Zone music: we are living parallel lives. Not that I’d need my sunglasses, or that sprinklers have come on here–because it hasn’t stopped raining in weeks–but, yeah, the whole pissing on me thing–yep, feeling it!

    And yep, I do laugh, in an only because I don’t feel like cryin’ kinda’ way!

  14. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Alyson, I used to never wear sunglasses, but now I’ve got terrible wrinkles. Not only that, but my eyes hurt in bright sunlight now. Hence the addiction.

    You mean I’m supposed to bathe myself more than twice a month, Katie? Who knew? ;-)

    Exactly, Lainey. I could have laughed or gotten really mad. I chose to laugh. Not that it was easy, but it was definitely preferable.

  15. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Caryn, I’m beginning to think that we might be related. Either that or we’re destined to write a sitcom together. :) Here’s hoping that this week is much better for you!

  16. jenny said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Wow! You described that moment so beautifully, it played like a movie in my head. I hope that you had a relaxing weekend, and that your Monday was uneventful. :)

  17. Jd said,

    Monday, September 22, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    This is something that happens often in my nonfiction life.

  18. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Carrie, that actually sounds like a lot of fun! Of course, if your life is like mine and the sitcom is based on those lives of ours, then it will need plenty of slapstick. *Sigh* I wish I were a bigger fan of slapstick.

    Thanks, Jenny! I’ve been playing around with description lately since I usually don’t use it as much as I should. This was the result. And, yes, my Monday went fairly well, thanks. I hope you have a great week!

    You, too, JD? It’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

  19. Monday, September 22, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    LOL, Caryn–you painted that incident so well!! Hope the clothes dried quickly and that, someday, you’ll find the perfect book scene in which to use this experience :).

  20. Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 5:45 am

    and you must put it in one of your books one of these days!

  21. Carol said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 8:27 am

    I can imagine the whole scene, especially on a TGIF morning…Did it rain?
    Take care, lots of love. Hope the weekend revived you.

  22. Stacy said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 9:23 am

    I think we may be secret sisters. That would definitely happen to me.

  23. Susan Hatler said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 10:31 am

    That was a hilarious scene. I like crazy fiction. BTW, I took your advice and read the fourth book in the Twilight series. Still good, but I didn’t love the ending. Reading Lock & Key now . . .

  24. Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Thanks, Marilyn! And, yes, things did dry pretty quickly, thank goodness.

    Joanne, that would be fun, although I’m afraid it could seem too contrived. I’d have to use it just so.

    That’s the funny thing, Carol — not only did it not rain (which would have been the perfect excuse for walking into school already wet) but the sun never came out either!

    Glad to know I’m not alone in that kind of luck, Stacy — not that I would wish it on anyone, of course!

    Thanks, Susan! And I’m with you on the fourth book, although for different reasons. Nonetheless, I couldn’t leave the series unfinished. As for Lock and Key, I just love Sarah Dessen.

  25. Mary said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Too weird for fiction? I don’t think so. From my own experience, it’s often a mistake to turn back for whatever you have or THINK you have forgotten. Trying too hard not to be the person who went out and left the iron on, or whose lipstick wasn’t waiting in their bag ready for a post-lunch touch-up — usually backfires. Making you the person who had not left the iron on but is now late for a train because you missed your perfect, traffic time-slot.

    Hope things get better this week. :)

  26. writtenwyrdd said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    “…and therefore too weird for fiction.” Yep. Sometimes the truth just won’t work, will it?

  27. Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    What a great attitude you have! And it does sound like a perfect scene for a book. Your imagery is wonderful!

  28. virginia said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    i’d have used it as an excuse to go back to bed. but i’m lazy. :)

  29. Barrie Summy said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Probably everything will go perfectly next week.

  30. Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Mary, that’s a good point. Funny thing was I never could find my sunglasses, so I was late, wet, and still without them! At least the sun didn’t come out.

    True, Writtenwyrdd!

    Alyssa, it was one of those if-I-don’t-laugh-I’ll-cry situations, and crying would have made my mascara run. ;-)

    Oh, Virginia, believe me, going back to bed would have been perfect! I was behind on sleep all week — still am!

    I do hope so, Barrie! So far it’s been much better.

  31. Nicola Marsh said,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    the first thing I thought of when I read this was ‘it should be in a book!’ :)

  32. Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    How cinematic! Stuff like that is so humbling.

  33. Erin said,

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Wow. Life is so crazy sometimes! Hahah! Glad you were able to enjoy the moment even though you got wet.

  34. Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    LOL! Actually, Nicola, that occurred to me, too — either a book or a movie.

    No kidding, Katie. I rarely feel glamorous or elegant, but that was a low point even for me.

    So true, Erin. As for enjoying it, I realized I had a choice — to either laugh or get angry. Laughing seemed much more pleasant.

  35. Marcia said,

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Too weird for fiction? :lol: Not on your life. Brittany Spears’ mom writing a book on parenting–now that’s weird.

  36. Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Truth is stranger than fiction! There’s a reason that’s a cliche! Hilarious and well told, Caryn.

  37. mountainink said,

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    It was a great story to hear in person and I laughed again reading it on the blog. Hope this week – especially Friday – goes well.

  38. Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    You’re right, Marcia — that IS weird. Maybe it’s a what-not-to-do guide. Then again, some people do learn from their mistakes.

    Thanks, Conda! I’m just glad I was able to laugh, too.

    Thanks, Mountainink! Actually, I spent all of Friday in bed with the flu, which means I’m now pinning all my hopes on this Friday.

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