Last Sunday Alan, my sister, her boyfriend and myself toodled back to my hometown for my Dad's birthday. I loaded up the car with his birthday and the family's Christmas presents. Alan drove while I memorized lines in the passenger seat.
It was a great day. Opening presents. The semi-annual purging of my mother's closet. The presentation of my Manolo Blahniks my mother bought me at a thrift store for $1. Lunch at Miners. A bit of shopping. Then back over the pass because the rains were starting up again.
On the way home, Alan drilled me on lines. After a particularly nasty patch of fog, he reached up to turn on the reading light, and hit the sunroof button instead.
Those of you who know my car know what happened next. Those of you who don't, need an explanation. When I bought my car my sunroof worked beautifully. It was lovely on those hot sunny California days to open the roof and have the wind blow my hair as Andrea and I sang our way down the coastal highway (usually on the way to David's Bridal).
One day my best friend Wendy, her daughter, and myself were on our way home from eating Italian on the Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara, when a weird whacking sound from the roof of my car. The weather stripping had come loose and was being caught by the wind. Wendy, as a stopgap measure, cracked open the sunroof to see if she could push it back down. Her hand couldn't quite reach, so she pushed the button to open the roof further. The sunroof, obliging, closed on her hand. She had pushed the wrong arrow.
Picture this: me driving down the highway at 70mph, Wendy, her hand trapped, trying to push every button and threatening to kick out the sunroof if it won't open. Raquel screaming with laughter in the backseat. Eventually Wendy did get her hand out, but the sunroof was permanently damaged. Oh, it will open. But closing, now, it does in it's own timeframe. Which is fine when you live in a part of the country where rain is a freakish occurance. Then I moved to Seattle.
If you've made it this far, you should know that my sunroof has only been opened once since I moved here. One sunny stretch of endless summer days, I risked it. Three days later it finally would close, but luckily, the sun stayed. Later that year, I left town to visit a friend, and left my car behind for my roommate Kambria, and my friend Denise (who was in town house-sitting) to use. I got a frantic call three days into the trip. They'd accidentally pushed the button for the roof instead of the light. Now the roof was open. And it had started to snow. They covered the roof with plastic bags in desperation. By the time I returned home they'd managed to get it to close, but there was a new piece of paper taped to the ceiling of my car with these words: Do NOT touch this button!!!!
I kept the sign up for years. Recently, however, I took it down, feeling it lacked the elegance I was going for (Never mind the layers of dust and fast food bags littering my car - a sign would be too much).
So back to the original narrative. Alan, myself, my sister and her boyfriend, were driving down the highway at 60+mph, with an open sunroof, and a rainstorm. We pulled over after a few minutes of frantic pushing, pulling, tugging, and begging. I turned off the car and restarted it a few times - sometimes that works. After ten minutes we realized we needed to be getting home soon, and were going to be wet either way. So, in a braintrust moment, I fished under the passenger seat, brought out my pink Brighton umbrella with cherries on it, and passed it back. Allie and James, giggling, found a way to open the umbrella in the backseat, and we drove the remaining 40 miles home with the floor heat blasting, and occasional apologies to the frigid passengers in the back.
I took my car in for an oil change two days later, and begged them, please, to get it to close again. Not fix it, but CLOSE it.
Perhaps I should put the sign back up.