IMR: 1998: April: 22 -- Wednesday, 3:04 p.m.
UH Press, Manoa, Hawai`i
I have no idea where the last week has gone.

Well, actually, I do. Doing a major paper for Hawaiian, meeting my new web-design clients, helping William run assorted cross-town errands (in part to make up for forgetting his birthday on the tenth), updating my auto insurance policy, and no fewer than two dozen other items on my well-worn list of things to be done.

But since I've forgotten most of the details, they couldn't have been all that significant. Which means that the blur of the last few days was -- despite my present state of exhaustion -- frankly mundane.

A pity. I've got a headache worthy of a major life crisis.

Of course, the exhaustion and headache are probably tied to my lack of sleep last night.

With all the running about I'd been doing lately, I began to sense that Jen was beginning to feel a little neglected. Sure we got to relax and see "City of Angels" on Sunday, but otherwise I was constantly preoccupied, skipping our lunches together and shuffling papers every night.

Indeed, yesterday -- usually my day off and our chance to be together -- was packed full of more meetings and errands and a major oral exam to boot. Jen had the most gut-wrenching pout when I left in the morning.

But the meeting was short, I did well on the exam, and the errands were ultimately called off. So I got to come home and spend the afternoon with my wife after all.

In appreciation for her patience, understanding, and top-notch parenting in my time of chaos, I gave her the one thing she desperately craved most of all: a nap.

I tucked Jen in as Katie started nodding off. And when she started stirring, I quietly unfolded the stroller and took our girl for a long-overdue walk.

After her eyes adjusted to the sunlight, Katie watched the world roll past with great interest. We first headed up Wilder to a little market where I picked up a Sprite and some yummy Gummi Bears. While there, a posse of wannabe teen gangsters paused to admire Katie's cuteness. We then headed back to hang out at Makiki District Park.

I found a bench under a tree, and Katie studied the branches above and waited patiently for me to finish my snack. After changing her diaper and playing a quick game of "Beep Beep Beep" (Jen's an endless font of baby games), we walked slow laps around the field.

Eventually, we went into the quaint Makiki Library. All the activity had wiped Katie out, and she started getting fussy. So while bouncing and walking her in my arms, I found a small paperback mystery novel and attempted to read it while pacing around the building.

By the end of the first chapter, Katie was asleep. We headed home.

Jen was still resting, but awake, actually worried that we'd been gone so long. Still, she seemed happy to have had an honest-to-goodness (albeit only three-hour) vacation. Too keep the smile on her face a little longer, I insisted on cooking dinner.

And as my grand finale, I stayed up with Katie when Jen turned in at 10 p.m. Katie fell asleep shortly thereafter, giving me a moment to catch up with some web work. When she finally started whimpering with hunger at 2 a.m., I was ready with a full bottle of milk.

I fed her until it was all gone, and she passed out again. Only then did I turn in myself. Katie didn't wake up until 7 a.m., meaning Jen had also gotten a full, uninterrupted night's sleep.

It's not exactly an Alaskan cruise, but as romantic endeavors go, I don't think I did half bad.

This story starts off looking bleak, but it has a happy ending.

Jen, William and I planned to spend an afternoon at Waimanalo Beach on Saturday. We hadn't been there -- or to any beach -- since the day before Katie was born.

But pulling into the parking lot at Windward Mall, William noticed huge billowing clouds of steam coming out of the car's hood. The hood of our "new" family-friendly car.

Jen succinctly summed up the storm of thoughts that raced through my mind: "Aw shit."

We got out and looked it over. Antifreeze everywhere. Apparently the drive over the Pali had overheated the engine. We figured it'd be fine by the time we were done with lunch.

After filling the coolant tank with water, we headed off... only to find the temperature gauge zipping straight up to "H," even at a low idle.

Defeated, we pulled into a Chevron.

Their verdict? A messed up radiator. The suggestion? Replace the whole thing, at a cost of about $600. But the good news was (!), they might be able to have it done by Monday.

Next stop, Firestone AutoCare Center down the street. Their verdict? None. Rather, they wouldn't even be able to look at the car for a while.

We sat in the parking lot and pondered the options. In the end, we decided to head back into town, but instead of going over the Pali, we took the really really scenic route through Waimanalo and Hawai`i Kai. Finally, we were back home, safe and sound.

The car didn't overheat during the roundabout trip, but I wasn't about to pretend nothing happened. I looked in the phone book for service stations open on Saturday. There weren't many, and most of them closed at noon.

Finally I spotted an ad for a Chevron station on Nu`uanu Avenue that was still open. When I called to get directions, I was rather rudely told that I'd probably have to leave the car overnight. Still, elated that I'd found an open shop, I looked up how to get home by bus and headed out there.

When I drove up, the garage was packed. Customers were double- and triple parked. Unsure of where to leave my car, I pulled up behind a truck to ask.

In a blink, a grimy station employee strutted up and stuck his head in my window. Perhaps he'd be able to help me out.

"Move your car! You're in the way!"

It sounded like he had to hold back an expletive.

I was stunned. If there's anything I inherited from my mom, it's expecting at least mediocre customer service. Here I was looking to lose a month's rent to them, and the first thing I get is a scolding from a puffy-chested rooster on steroids?

"You could," I said, speaking slowly to ensure comprehension, "have been a bit more courteous than that."

I started my car, reversed out of the way, and drove back out onto the road.

I felt vindicated, but now I didn't know what to do. I tried to remember where there were lots of service stations, and decided to cruise around Kaka`ako near downtown to see what was available.

That's when I spotted Lex Brodie's. Good ol' Lex doesn't have anything to do with the place anymore, of course, but what the hell. They were open.

I rolled into the parking lot. In a blink, a smiling employee walked up and said, "What can we do for you today?"

Still fuming over the asshole at the Nu`uanu Chevron, I almost fainted.

"My radiator is acting up," I said. "Do you think anyone could have a look?"

"Let's look at it right now," he said. "Pop the hood."

I did. And when we lifted it, a steady stream of hot, green water arced out. My car was relieving itself on my shoe.

"Looks like your top hose has a leak," he said, looking at his watch. An hour to closing. "I think we can replace that and look at the rest of the system today."

And just like that, it was done. They had to send a cashier across town to buy some obscure doodad, and the mechanic worked twenty minutes overtime, but my car was fixed. Hoses, thermostats and gaskets replaced, the whole system flushed and filled.

Of course, they found a couple of other things that needed repair. Brakes, clutch fan, power steering lines...

I probably will go back, though, when I can afford it. I dunno, maybe one brake a month?

Car mechanics, like car salesmen, aren't too high up the evolutionary ladder. But I don't mind being ravaged by such monsters as long as they're somewhat polite about it.

After hearing it in the theater, Jen and I figured out the lyrics to "Uninvited" (the Alanis song) and posted it to USENET for further debate. This fact pops into my head only because the background music in this Oldsmobile Intrigue advertisement opens with the same three piano notes.

While on the subject of commercials, though, I'd also like to say, "Nasalcrom?"

What kind of name is that? What were they thinking? I wish I was there, in the stuffy boardroom where the pharmaseutical company was looking to name their new allergy medicine.

"Allerzen GQ?" Nope. "Prohistene?" No. "ThanaBlok?" Nope nope nope.

"I know," someone cries out, jumping up and wagging his finger in the air. "Let's call it... Nasalcrom!"

Come to think of it, the recent explosion in the mainstream marketing of specialized, prescription medicine is just a little creepy. Thankfully, the FDA makes 'em jump through lots of hoops in order to get on the air. Like disclosing some of the fine print and referring viewers to magazines where they can find the rest.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 22 April 1998 · Last Modified: 24 April 1998