Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Tale of Two Lighters . . .

Play this while reading.



Since I was fourteen, I've always carried a Zippo lighter. I can't explain what drew me to them. Maybe it was the chrome finish. That familiar click. It could have been their presence in popular-culture, or the fact that they start fucking fire! Whatever it was, I considered them the ultimate accessory. At one point I owned dozens and changed them out regularly before losing all but one - a plain gold unit. I kept that unit in my fifth-pocket for the better part of a decade. Three Christmases ago, I lost that one and replaced it with a like model I picked up at a general store. In the last several months, I found the lost lighter deep in the seat of my car. Now I have two of the same lighter - and that's where my problem starts.

Luck is subjective. Given one's disposition or mindset, the outcome of any event can be perceived differently. The response to an action can be fortunate one day, soul-crushing the next. I know that one of these lighters is lucky. With that lighter, the outcome of any situation is always positive. This means that the other lighter must be the inverse. It yields misfortune. With that lighter, the worst possible scenario will manifest itself. Yet, I've never been sure which is which. With the understanding that my feelings on any particular day vary, I'm left rationalizing each lighter as being good and bad based on what transpired, and what could have transpired. It was a never-ending circular argument with myself and the cosmos.

Last night, I had the newer lighter when I decided to take a late-night stroll and check on my broke-down Hydra (1 of 3, ever), only to find it had been towed. I went on-line and saw that my baby had been taken on the first of December - a day after I last checked on it. For the last eight days it's been sitting over at the Sacramento Pound racking up costs. I spent the rest of the night calculating how much it would cost to retrieve - there'd be boot fees. Tow fees. Storage Fees. I might have to pay any outstanding parking tickets. I'll have to pay a tow truck to come and take it from the auto pound to the auto shop. I was up until three last night agonizing over all of this.

This morning, I awoke and grabbed the older lighter. As I stepped outside, the 147-southbound for the loop was at my front door. I boarded the crowded bus and reached in my pocket to pay the fare. The driver held up his hand and said, 'Don't worry about paying, just hold on." I'm sure you know: Riding the CTA for free is the ultimate opiate. I arrive at the office and call the towing place to see what the damage is. It's nowhere near what I anticipated - making what I have to pay something of a blessing.

I still owe the city. I still have to deal with the inconvenience of getting my car from the pound. I still have to pay a tow guy to schlep the Hydra across town. But it could have been worse. So much worse. And I place the easing of my burdens on this old lighter that spent years hidden away in my car seat, surrounded by loose change and remnants of junk food.

Sure, I could throw the other "unlucky" lighter away, ensuring the "lucky" lighter is the only one in my possession . . .

. . . but what's the fun in that?

1 comment:

rachelok said...

that was a good story.