Friday, July 31, 2009

LIFE: "You're tags are expired."

The post below describes the joylessness of my experiences getting my car's licence sticker renewed. I point out that I'm more or less unenthused about getting pulled over driving with expired licence tags. That's because it happened to me once. As a passenger, but nonetheless, it wasn't fun.

Back in my more sociable days, I would occasionally do things because friends asked me to. Things I didn't want to do, and knew I SHOULDN'T do. I've put that niceness well behind me now, so I'm unlikely to fall into the trap again. Just so you should know.

It all started with the breaking up of a bridge partnership. I was playing, successfully, with a gent by the name of Wayne. Wayne had a small problem with alcohol, but sober, was one of the best young players in the country. I was slightly older and responsible for driving. Wayne had lost his licence. I found Wayne a dependable partner, except when he failed to show up or answer his door when being picked up. One last time, a club championship missed, and I told him the partnership was over. I didn't talk to him for the better part of a decade. (I'm legendary for holding grudges).

One of my other friends, the lady in a recently split-up relationship, eventually started seeing Wayne socially. She looked at me with those big sad eyes and pouty face and begged me to give Wayne another chance. Just for her. I KNEW it was wrong. But there was no saying no. I agreed to partner Wayne at the upcoming Canadian Nationals. The Good Friday Open Pairs. As an act of goodwill, Wayne volunteered to drive. He showed up the morning of the game driving his mother's car.

As it turns out, the magic that had been our partnership had disappeared. We turned in average sessions in the afternoon and then in the evening. It wasn't unpleasant, but the strained conversation was too much pressure to turn in a good performance. I wasn't at my best. And his rust showed. He wasn't anywhere near ready to play in a serious tournament. I tried. But I simply didn't enjoy the game. Ultimately, what was wrong was a reversal of playing postures. In the original partnership, I had been the aggressive player while Wayne had been the solid conservative one. In the intervening years, I had become the rock of most of my partnerships, letting my partners be the shooters. Two conservative players rarely succeed in tournament bridge.

Anxious to bring this experiment in taking one for a friend to an end (he had been inveigled into this as much as I was), we lit out right after the evening session and headed home. We just got off the highway south of Bramalea when flashing cherry lights in our rear window foretold of problems. The next 20 minutes were spent by Wayne weedling permission out of the policeman to allow him to drive me home and then go get the licence sticker for the car. The sticker was on top of the fridge at his mother's house. By the way, it had been on the fridge for FIVE MONTHS!!! Wayne was never anything other than personable in situations like this, even in his drinking days. The officer acquiesced.

Wayne apologized as he got into the car. I said nothing, seething. I was more mad at myself than anything else. The next three minutes were spent in silence, Wayne recognizing the opportunity to not foment any angry conversation. Three minutes? With my house ten minutes away? Yep. That's how long it took for ANOTHER POLICE UNIT to pull us over!! Took a half-hour this time for the latest member of the constabulary to check with the first one and verify the deal.

Once on our way, the silence was deafening. As we pulled into the driveway at my house, Wayne offered one word. Sorry. I nodded acceptance, got out of the car and haven't spoken to, or seen him, in 18 years.

Not that I'm counting.

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