Some believe “déjà vu” is caused by stimuli reaching the temporal lobe of one side of the brain just before it reaches the other, creating a feeling that new information has been “already seen.” Other experts believe that leaving your wallet at home before a roadtrip is caused by “being a dumbass.”
I’d pulled into the Valley Forge Casino parking lot 30 minutes before showtime, which is not my usual M.O. I typically show up 8 minutes before showtime, running from the front desk to the green room with my suit over my shoulder and my shoes in a plastic Shop Rite bag.
“Half hour to relax with no complications!” I said to myself, reaching with one hand to pat my back and the other for a wallet that wasn’t there.
SHIT FUCK GODDAMMIT SHIT
No driver’s license. No $. Not even a library card. I lamely tried to convince the desk clerk that my photo on the lobby poster was a legit form of ID. He wasn’t buying it, although he was kind enough to remark it looked like I’d lost weight. So I made the call every booker longs to hear: “Hey, the gig’s starting and I’m standing in the lobby like a vagrant.” He called the show managers who paid cash and got me in my room with 8 minutes to spare.
The two shows were great, sold some merch (thank God I found my bag of CDs and 100 bucks in $10 bills in the back seat), then collapsed on my hotel bed ASAP.
It wasn’t just the travel b.s. that wiped me out; I was a month into seeing Dana and even though we were keeping it low-key, she was constantly on my mind. I hadn’t felt like this about someone in a long, long time and it was terrifying, exhausting, exhilarating. We’d known each other for years but I’d never thought of her “that way,” romantically or physically, even though she was smart, funny, and attractive. Now I couldn’t think of her any other way.
“Well,” I thought. “This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been missed something right in front of me.” Then I pictured my wallet at home, clearly illuminated beneath the lamp on my nightstand.
I bit down extra hard on my night guard and fell sleep.
The next day I stayed in bed until 11:58. I considered asking for a late check-out, but after my late check-in I feared they’d call a SWAT team and do a cell extraction. I used my few dollars of CD cash to buy an apple and a protein drink at the Wawa and headed East on Rt 278.
I didn’t like driving sans license, but figured as long as I made it to Saturday’s synagogue show then home without incident, easy peasy. Besides, what other choice did I have?
A few years earlier I was driving from Rhode Island to Atlantic City as part of my “Extremely Bad Routing Tour,” and nearly died.
The nor’easter was so bad it required constant focus to keep my car from sliding off Route 95 into a charming colonial ditch. I’d almost crossed the border into Connecticut when a speeding 18 wheeler sliced in front of me, spraying snow onto my windshield and causing a complete 10-second whiteout. I prayed I’d survive and the driver would suffer greatly from his addiction to rest-stop amphetamines.
When my wipers finally cleared off the mess, I realized my Toyota was slowly spinning sideways across the highway. And I mean slow enough for me to scream, catch my breath, then scream again. Then stop screaming, then see if I could find something better on the radio. If my life was flashing before my eyes, the soundtrack would not be from the oldies station.
After a few more slow-mo 360s, my car slid to a stop in the far lane, then stalled pointing at the oncoming southbound traffic. A passing car beeped at me AS IF I WAS UNAWARE I WAS FACING THE WRONG DIRECTION. I started the engine, turned around, and resumed my drive to Jersey. My breathing and nerves were fine until I checked into my room at the Resorts, at which point I took a dump as long as my entire body.
My fender bender on PA Route 278 had none of that Olde New England charm. I’d paid my toll and was comfortably merging when a car ahead of me casually drifted onto the right shoulder, then hauled ass back into traffic. The driver he cut off screeched to a halt, as did the delivery truck in front of me. I hit the brakes in time to miss his bumper by an inch and take a full breath before the white delivery truck behind me smacked into my right quarter panel.
SHIT FUCK GODDAMMIT SHIT
The car & truck in front sped off before I could get their plates (BASTARDS) and I pulled into the breakdown lane. Time to exchange registration, insurance info, angry glances, etc.
A few months earlier, I ordered a dashcam to record events just like this. It seemed like a good investment given the amount of driving I do, plus I had a Groupon – the main force behind 80% of my current purchases.
It was at home still in the box. I could clearly picture it on my nightstand, right next to
And now I was in an accident. I raised my tiny clenched fist to the Heavens, grabbed my insurance card & registration, and stepped out to inspect the damage.
“You OK?” I asked White Delivery Truck Driver and he nodded. I gave him my info and wrote down his, which was tricky since his English was shaky and his name read like a bad batch of Scrabble tiles (Vrsklnkzy? Krvnshklki? Shvrklnngsy?). His bumper was slightly bent but it didn’t look serious. My rear tire was flat and I had a dent and some scrapes: we’d gotten lucky.
Then I realized that someone had smacked into him, and that driver’s luck wasn’t worth a scratch-off ticket. I walked around to see his car was totaled, and from the looks of it barely road worthy to begin with. I asked if he needed medical help – he nodded no, so I told both of them I’d call the cops to fill out the report.
While we were waiting I decided my license-less ass should keep a low profile so I stayed in my car. I overheard White Delivery Truck Driver and Mr. Lucky having a hushed conversation, and with my super paranoid Spidey senses, I could tell they were both speaking Russian. Oh great – COLLUSION! Me with no license and I just happen to run into Uranium One & Three.
Here’s what I learned: as long as you have your insurance & registration, not having your license on you is no biggie. They can look up everything they need without your ID – shout out to government overreach! Finally, Big Brother hooks a brother up.*
*NOTE: this may only apply to White drivers. Hey, I didn’t make the system
The officer took our statements, gave the compulsory “I have nothing of additional assistance to offer” speech and drove off. No tickets, no warnings, no comment about the other drivers’ immigration status and/or ties to the Putin Regime (shame on me for not asking). White Delivery Truck Driver split and I think he took his, ahem, “comrade,” with him.
While I waited for the tow truck, I realized it was time for my traditional post-traumatic bowel movement. I made a note to ask GEICO if my policy covered emptying my GI tract after an automotive crisis. I started looking for a place to squat in the tall grass alongside Route 278, thinking “so easy a Caveman can do it.” Roadside assistance, anyone?
Maybe a Caveman could do it, but I couldn’t.
I scurried up the rock wall to the Target and targeted their restroom. 20 minutes later, a calmer and significantly lighter me made a token purchase and strolled back to my car.
The tow truck driver who was 30 minutes away arrived 90 minutes later (my pizza was NOT free) and got me to the local Mavis 10 minutes before closing. The $40 I’d spent on tire insurance came in handy, since I only had a few bucks left from my CD cash. I paid the difference and headed to New Jersey with $3 in my pocket.
I don’t remember much about that temple gig or the drive home, other than I drove verrrry carefully over the Verrazano. The long trip gave me extra time to think about Dana, and wonder if she was also thinking about me.
What other choice did I have?
I’ll be appearing at the Valley Forge Casino tonight, Friday January 5 at 8:00