Not long after I got my new wheels, I joked to my brother that I needed to christen them with a fender-bender. I don't know why I made this joke, because it wasn't all that funny.
And it was a joke.
But now it's not.
Tonight, on my way to work, I took a classic spare-myself-a-wait-at-the-light-and-get-to-work-on-time maneuver, turning right and making the so-called Michigan left to avoid the stop-light left. It went smoothly. Except. Except: after I completed it, I had to wait at the stop light. It turned green, and people started to go. So I looked down at my iPod, presumably to find Kenny Loggins or Elvis Costello or some other such artist too old for my own good. And once I looked up again, there was a rusty old pickup much closer than I had remembered, much more stationary than I had remembered. I slammed the brakes too late, christened the new Honda, and muttered a few choice words.
I haven't been in many accidents. Actually, I've never been at the wheel for a significant bumper-thumper. So, I told myself there probably wasn't much damage, even though I knew our collision was sound. I got out, checked everything over - I'd show you a picture if I had taken one - and saw the great big scrape on top of my bumper, and a big dent in the grill. Thankfully, the Honda H was in pristine condition - how else do you know it's a Honda? The other driver got out and looked it over. He seemed unmoved by it all. No damage at all to his pickup. He handed over his information and I wrote it down nervously.
He seemed cool, collected. But if life is anything like the movies - and I have no reason to believe it isn't, because the cinema is the fount from which I tap my whole reality - then this guy was probably on his way to a diamond heist. I bet that when I bumped him, he assumed I was from a rival faction, attempting to keep him from getting to the big exchange. He probably took a pistol from under his seat, loaded it, screwed on a silencer, and tucked it into the back of his slacks. He wouldn't have hesitated to take me out, get back into his truck, and get back on his way to a private jet to Liberia where there would have been a few a few shady characters in a limo with suitcases full of Benjamins and Euros, and the guy's girlfriend, taken hostage and tied up on the floor. This was never about the diamonds, it was about getting his woman back. He got sucked away from his career as a semi-professional softball player and into a complicated web of lies, deceit, and pretty diamonds. He would have handed over the diamonds and waited for them to unshackle her - did I mention she's shackled? - and when they finally unlocked her handcuffs, she PULLED A GUN ON HIM. SHE WAS IN ON IT THE WHOLE TIME, AND SHE NEVER LOVED HIM. But I digress.
The important thing is that he wasn't mad, and we didn't have a beef. There was no damage to his truck. And I'm not surprised, because it was made of metal and my car is made of, like, old laundry basket plastic. It folded right up.
Anyway. I got his info, let him leave, and filed a police report and a claim with my insurance. It was all my fault. So now Kenny Loggins has cost me, I can only assume, at least my $500 deductible.
I spent the rest of the night wondering why I didn't just do something differently to avoid the accident. If I had just waited at the light or gone straight or been five minutes faster or slower or left the iPod at home... But then I thought, How many times have I done it right and not realized it? The six years I had my car, not once did I have so much as a bump, or a scrape, or a busted mirror. You never know when or how often you've escaped danger or humiliation. How many times have I taken the right way and, say, serendipitously avoided mowing down a troupe of girl scouts helping elderly folks cross the street? Then I would certainly have spent the rest of my life in jail with that hanging over my head. But no... I just got into a fender-bender. And it's just kind of expensive. I'm going to drain my checking account, but if that's the worst thing that happens, I think I'll be alright.
By the way, I would name the movie something with a diamond pun. And it would star Nicholas Cage.