There is a new rule in effect among my friends, and it is this: if another of our friends gets married out of town, the person driving to it must have their car thoroughly checked out before departing. While we were sitting in the little tire shop in Navasota this afternoon, we realized that we couldn’t really think of a distant wedding that hadn’t involved car trouble of some sort.
But let me back up.
Our friends Juan and Amy got married in Houston today. We decided to ride with Nick and Lisa, who’d brought their van (which usually holds small boys) and had plenty of room. Our other friend Mike decided to join us as well.
So there’s this stretch of Highway 6 between here and Navasota where a lot of people get killed. It’s 70mph and two lanes each way, but the highway isn’t divided and there’s not much in the way of a shoulder. Naturally, this is the part where one of the tires shredded itself.
Amazingly, it didn’t blow. Nick managed to pull over and be completely out of traffic, though not by much, and we discovered that the bad tire was on the road side and not the grass side. After determining that none of us has AAA or anything so useful, Lisa called the roadside assistance number that is apparently printed on the back of Texas drivers’ licenses. (I was unaware of this happy fact.)
The people who answer this number proceeded to ask Lisa a series of unanswerable questions (“Which side of the river are you on?” “There’s a river?”) intended to determine which side of the county line we’ve broken down on.
Meanwhile, Nick’s changing the tire. About six inches from the lane.
We will gloss over the several minutes we spent encouraging traffic to merge left so as not to smush Nick, except to say that some people are assholes, and that at one point a mobile home (helpfully labeled WIDE LOAD) went by.
Nick completed his operations long before the roadside assistance people figured out whose problem we were. With the spare on, we limped into Navasota, which is a tiny little town with a tiny little Wal-Mart… that doesn’t include a service center. The Chevy dealer next door —
we happened to be in a Chevy [oops, make that a Dodge] — does have a service center, but it’s closed on the weekends. The salesman gave us directions to a tire shop, and off we went. This being Navasota, the place was about three blocks away.
At this point, a fellow wedding guest called Mike’s cell phone to say that he’d just passed a van pulled off the road, and there had been several people standing around in wedding-going outfits, and was that us? And did we still need help? We did not, although we did ask him to let people know where we were, as we would almost certainly miss the ceremony.
Evidently there’s nothing better for elderly men to do on hot Saturday afternoons in Navasota except sit on the bare foam of some old RV seats outside the tire shop and watch tires get changed. There were about five such specimens at the place we pulled into, although I think one was actually a customer. The lone guy doing all the work informed Nick that we needed to go to another place two blocks over to actually purchase our new tire, which we could then bring back to have put on the van.
Weird little place. They did have a working Coke machine, though, and its cans were cold, if very grimy.
Somewhat refreshed, we drove off with the lovely new tire in place. Elapsed time from first warning shimmy of the van to new tire: little over an hour. Not bad, all things considered. We made the rest of the trip without incident, and our little talking GPS unit guided us straight to the little church… which, it turns out, is in a neighborhood very near my aunt’s house. In fact, I believe we bought my wedding dress about a block from there.
We made it in time to see them exchange vows.
While we were still outside of Houston, Lisa and I realized we needed to sign the cards for our gifts. My card said something like “Love: you’ll have it forever and ever.”
We were a little tempted to write down all the other things belonging to your spouse that you’ll have forever and ever:
- school loans
- annoying friends
- previous children
- the family china
- unwanted furniture
- any persistent venereal diseases
- legal judgments
- declarations of bankruptcy resulting from said legal judgments
- credit card debts
- obsessed former lovers
But we thought better of it.