My husband is the type of person who runs out of gas. This is not hyperbole or some way of saying he gets tired easily. I mean he literally drives his car until it uses up all its fuel and stops moving. And he hasn’t done this just once or twice. It happens with some frequency. The worst part is, it isn’t like this happens when he’s out in the middle of nowhere with no gas stations around. It isn’t even because he doesn’t pay attention. He runs out of gas because he likes to play a twisted game of chicken with the inanimate object that is his gas tank. (Spoiler alert: The gas tank never flinches.)
I, on the other hand, have never run out of gas. I fill up long before the needle dips below the ¼ line – and I cannot understand how anyone in this day and age would ever allow their tank to get to empty – unless they were driving through a desolate wasteland, had a broken gas gauge, and/or had lost both their sight and hearing, in which case they probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel in the first place.
From where I sit, running out of gas is ALL downside. The only upside I can think of is the satisfaction that… what? Your nerves of steel allowed you to eek out one last mile, landing you on empty at the exact moment you roll in front of the pump? Pretty thin upside, if you ask me – considering the downside is expensive, dangerous, time-consuming, and messy.
But downside be-damned, Jimmy loves to play Gas Tank Chicken. Except when I’m in the car with him. When I’m in the car with him, here is how things go down:
Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding.
Me: Is that the gas thing?
Me: We should probably stop.
Jimmy: Oh no– we have like, 50 miles left. Trust me. I do this all the time.
Me: But it’s dinging.
Jimmy: I know.
Me: Doesn’t that mean it’s time to stop?
Jimmy: No – that’s just what they want you to think.
Me: That’s what who wants us to think?
Jimmy: We’re fine. Relax.
Another few minutes pass. I try to get past the ‘relax’ comment.
Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding. Ding-Ding.
Me: It’s still dinging – I think we should stop.
Jimmy: Babe, we can go another, like, 100 miles on this tank. I guarantee it. I do this all the time.
Me: Did you really just call me babe?
Jimmy: Don’t you want to see how much farther we can make it?
Jimmy: Aren’t you curious?
Me: Not even a little.
Jimmy: You’re telling me you don’t want to know if we could get all the way home on this tank? He smiles with a slightly insane glint in his eye.
Me: If we run out of gas – we’d have to walk. I don’t want to have to walk. That’s why we have a car.
Jimmy: We won’t have to walk. I guarantee it. Trust me, I do this all the time.
Yeah, the problem is that the other thing he does all the time is RUN OUT OF GAS. These sorts of conversations usually end in me getting all panicky and hysterical and basically insisting that we pull over and fill up. Which he does. But the entire rest of the drive he mutters to himself about how he knows we could have made it without stopping.
Need I point out the irony of a man who is completely unwilling to risk bad fruit, travels with a 6.5 pound Dopp kit (actual weight) filled with ointment, medicine, gauze, and salve for every eventuality but who IS willing to gamble on being stuck on the side of the road with cars whizzing by while he is forced to walk who-knows-how-many miles to the nearest gas station? I guess I just did. But the point is, I think this behavior may very well mark the beginnings of Jimmy’s downslide into Crazy-Old-Manhood. (That and shooting at squirrels, Lee Harvey-style, out of our book depository bathroom window. True story for another post…)
Anyone else out there play Gas Tank Chicken? If you do, please comment and enlighten me on why an otherwise sane person would EVER do this…
I thought I knew everything about my husband. Until today.
This morning while we sat at our island eating breakfast (kitchen, not tropical), my husband revealed something about himself that nothing in our 17-year history could have prepared me for. And he said it like it was no big deal, like I should have expected – even approved of – his commentary.
It turns out that I most certainly did not approve, and to put an exclamation point on it, I’m going to reveal his dirty little secret here. On the Internet. Where it will never go away. And because I think it will be most dramatic this way, I’m going to do it via a live-action dialogue sequence.
Brace yourself: The following material may be a bit shocking. Those with faint constitutions may want to close your browsers now…
Me: I took a chance and bought these new cherries at the store yesterday.
Husband: Oh yeah?
Me: Yeah. It was a bit of a risk because I’ve never had this kind before– but they were like $3 less per pound, so I decided to go for it.
Husband: That’s good. (pause) Why didn’t you try one first?
Me: Couldn’t. They were in a sealed bag.
Husband: Oh, I would have just opened the bag and taken one.
Husband: Yeah, totally. I do it all the time.
Me: You do?
Husband: Yeah. I’ve been burned too many times with bad fruit. I always test it first now. Trust me.
Me: Wait – what? You test fruit? In the grocery store?
Husband: Yeah. All the time. Like if I’m thinking about buying one of those big bags of apples, I’ll just open the bag and eat one. You know, to make sure they’re good.
Me: Wait… you’re telling me you open sealed bags of fruit and eat, like, an entire apple, orange, or nectarine – right there on the spot?
Husband: Yeah, all the time.
Me: That’s horrifying.
Husband: No it isn’t. It’s practical. Fruit is expensive and I want to make sure it’s going to taste good before I buy it.
Me: That’s unsanitary. Plus, it’s kind of stealing.
Husband: No it isn’t.
Me: Yeah, it is.
Husband: No it isn’t. They know people do it. They expect it. Trust me. I do it all the time.
Me: But you’re eating something without paying for it.
Husband: Not really.
Me: Yes, really.
Husband: No, it’s fine. They expect people to do it. Trust me.
Tense silence while I try to integrate this new information.
Me: Ok. So forgetting about the stealing for a minute, your method doesn’t even make sense. Just because one apple in the bag doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t mean they all will be bad.
Husband: Yeah it does.
Me: No it doesn’t.
Husband: Yeah it does. Trust me.
Me: No – it so doesn’t. There’s a whole cliché based on how wrong that assumption is. You know, One bad apple…?
Husband: Yeah, that expression proves my point.: One bad apple spoils the bunch or bushel or whatever.
Me: Hm. Well… maybe that’s how the expression started, but I think the real point of it is what a shame it is for one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch. You shouldn’t throw away the whole bunch because of one bad apple.
Husband: Yeah you should. Trust me. I do it all the time.
So here’s the takeaway: My husband, who has bungee jumped off a cliff in Australia, raced cars on the Nuerburgring in Germany, skied double black diamonds, and married a temperamental Jewish girl from Chicago and brought her to live in a small town in Missouri, is apparently so risk-averse when it comes to fruit that he will break social conventions and basically steal from our local grocery store to avoid… what? A sour taste in his mouth? (This is the same man buys the $18 box of sour patch watermelons every time we go to the movies.)
I think what surprised me most about Jimmy’s feelings on fruit-buying, was his attitude of entitlement. Like he is owed a decent piece of fruit or something. Good or bad, it took the farmer every bit as long to grow the fruit, and the grocer just as much overhead to sell the fruit. Aside from bruises or obvious mold or something, you can’t tell how a piece of fruit is going to taste before you eat it. Therefore the only method of determining if the fruit is worthy of purchase, takes the option to buy it off the table. Because by then it is already in your stomach.
Call me I’m old-fashioned, but I think certain things in life come with inherent risk. Buying fruit is one of them. Marriage is another for that matter, along with putting your face under at a water park and eating sushi in the Midwest. You pays your money, you takes your chances. There are no guarantees in this life and if you want to be 100% sure your fruit is going to taste perfectly sweet, you’d better buy it out of a can and be prepared to eat all the sugar and preservatives they add to make it that way. Unlike my husband, I am not a risk-taker by nature, but I believe there are certain things in life worth the gamble. Appalling fruit-buying behavior aside, my husband was one of them. A good nectarine is another.
And you can trust me on that.
What do you think? Are you a fruit-tester?