Saturday, August 12, 2006

Criminey! Look Ma, No Mapquest!

Sorry for the extended absence, but I’m in love.

Don’t choke on your fish oil pills, Eric . . . it’s not you. I’ve fallen for a woman. Wait: it gets steamier. I don’t know her name.

I’m not certain what she looks like, either. Sometimes I imagine a short, mid-30s blonde librarian, like Shirley Jones in The Music Man. Other days I think she’s older, bookish, bespectacled -- Donna Reed sans Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. (Also a librarian, actually.)

I picture her as well-read, with a comprehensive knowledge of Faulkner’s Mississippi backroads, Irving’s New England byways, and Nicole Richie’s Cali freeways.

But maybe she’s not a reader. Maybe she’s never ventured beyond “The Amazing Race” on CBS. In which case, she’s not really my type.

It hardly matters. I’m a smitten kitten.

Where Madame GPS System goes, I will follow.

GPS arrived in New Orleans several months before Eric. When Eric asked how GPS and I met, well, I lied. I value honesty in relationships, but I’m a bigger fan of not looking stupid. “I bought it awhile back,” I said. “I was tired of getting lost all the time.” Eric nodded. “How much did it cost?” Hmmm. “500 bucks,” I said, silently praying that Eric would not insist on Googling GPS systems when we got back to my apartment. “Not too bad,” he shrugged. “Ready to get sno cones?”

Here’s the sordid truth: I did not buy GPS for myself. It was a gift from my mother. I wasn’t terribly concerned about my busted internal compass, but Mom had grown a bit weary of fielding frantic calls from the highway, e.g. “Mapquest told me to turn left on Madison Avenue, but now I’m at Millard Fillmore Drive, and I think I’m getting on the interstate! Can you search online for the nearest gas station, or possibly arrange a squad-car escort?”

Yes, I’m 26 years old (nearly), and I still phone home for help. That’s not the embarrassing part. When Mom lovingly introduced me to GPS, I smiled, expressed gratitude, and, after Mater Familias turned her back, shoved the system in my glove compartment. See, I was sure GPS was a nice gal and all, but I wasn’t exactly ready for a relationship. I had issues. “Cold feet,” some say. Specifically, I was scared to drive farther than Winn Dixie.

That’s why I made Eric do all the driving when he visited last week.

(I’m not going to say much more about Eric’s trip to NOLA. If you’re one of my four or five friends who reads this blog, then I’ve probably given you most of the Goofus Musings/Murky Words Rendezvous details, anyhow. If you don’t know me, you don’t care. And if you know me but you aren’t my friend: hey, who are you?)

Unfortunately, Mr. Words couldn’t play chauffeur forever. He left on Tuesday; the American Psychological Association convention started in the Quarter on Thursday; and by Friday I was composing flowery apologies to GPS. “Sorry I’ve neglected you for so long. Don’t hate me.”

GPS flickered. She sighed. She said: “Please drive the highlighted route.” And we were off.

Our affair has not been without potholes. “Recalculating” is GPS’s code for “You messed up, babe.” On a particularly bad stretch, GPS advised me to “make the first available U-turn.” I have lost my temper with her, as Eric can attest. I have cursed her. She, however, has not once raised her voice. And she’s always guided me home.

That’s the best thing. As long as I have GPS, I can get home again.

I’ve heard people compare a good romance to the feeling of “coming home.” I guess the idea is that “home” isn’t a street name -- not Bourbon or Basin or Tchoupitoulas. It isn’t about knowing where you are. Or even who you are. “Home” is just another way of saying “you’re okay.” You can eat the whole sno cone, then show off your wild-cherry red tongue. You can sing Dr. Seuss’s Whoville Christmas song in the middle of Jackson Square, completely sober, and count on a chorus. You can unleash your goofiest, dorkiest self, and not feel particularly goofy or dorky.

Dorothy got it right: there’s no place like home. I might start calling GPS “Dorothy.” How does Dot feel about driving in Boston, I wonder?

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and you told me it wouldn't stay stuck on the window.....mwah

11:22 PM  
Blogger Jesseanna said...

Somebody reintroduced me to this handy little suction tab. Apparently, you're not just supposed to throw her at the windshield and hope she sticks.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm glad you have a new lady in your life to direct you where you need to go. too bad she doesn't have life coach experience in addition to her navigation prowess. i'm rarely physically lost but metaphysically i'm a mess. good luck with your new trips around town. -a

12:03 PM  
Blogger Volbak said...

While living in Memphis I bought, for the time, a hell of an expensive telephone that had speed dials and get-in-front-of-the-line services (whereby I twice got the mayor's office). After one year I had not a single telephone number in me 'ead. Thus I wonder if the GPS would leave one in the in geographical darkness. We must hope not.

5:44 PM  
Blogger B said...

OK, you and Eric must now create a joint blog: Murfus Woozings.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

volbak's known for his great knowledge and expertise of new fangled contraptions.....

9:04 AM  
Blogger Jesseanna said...

That is why we love Volbak.

Gurky Murds? I like it.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last two paragraphs were brilliant!

5:31 PM  

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