It was a dark and stormy night. Plenty of lousy novels have begun that way, so why not a lousy column?
The rain was coming down faster than Starbucks shares. As I drove, my hands gripping the wheel tighter than Dolly Parton’s jeans, I noticed several mini-vans passing by from the other direction. Every one of them had a freshly cut, newly bought holiday tree strapped on top.
Then it happened: Just at the moment a particular mini-van drove past, I noticed its tree suddenly break free and tumble off onto the side of the road. It was the apparent victim of swirling winds and bungled bungees.
There was nothing I could do. Our two cars were both heading swiftly in opposite directions. I suppose the unsuspecting family in the mini-van made the horrible discovery when they arrived home:
Little Suzie: “Hey, daddy! Where’s our tree?”
Little Jimmy: “Yeah! Where’d it go, dad?”
Mom: “ I told you those bungee cords weren’t on tight enough!”
I know exactly how that dad must have felt. I’ve been there. I could recount for him the many times — and many objects — that have tumbled off my car top over the years. Different cars, different car tops, same results. And holiday trees are just part of the list.
Years ago, a neighbor and I decided to go skiing at Snoqualmie Pass — a very fine idea normally. We strapped our skis onto a car top ski rack. That’s when I made the portentous statement: “Those babies ain’t going anywhere.” I was correct — except for one of those babies.
Somewhere, perhaps halfway up the I-90 climb, one of the skis — yes, just one — broke free, slid off and onto the freeway. Unfortunately, the ski had been freshly waxed, so it didn’t slow down until it got to Issaquah.
I have also had a bed mattress launch itself from the top of my car. Here’s a consumer tip: Thin, cheap twine is excellent for securing packages that you’re planning to mail for the holidays. But it’s not so good for securing a mattress atop a Chevy Suburban.
The good thing about a mattress tumbling off a moving car is that it doesn’t need anything to cushion its fall. In fact, if that 18-wheeler behind me had stayed in his lane, I think my mattress would have survived just fine that day. (TV commercial I’d like to see: “We’ve got some like-new
mattresses on sale right now at Sleep Country! Especially if you’re not picky about color or tire tread marks.”)
Pat Cashman is a writer, actor and public speaker.