We finally sold our son’s handicapped van to a WOMAN who was flying in from Wisconsin to pick it up and drive it back. The plan was that she would hand over the money and we would hand over the keys.
When my husband came home with the check, he said: “It’s too late to get it into the bank and as I saw her driving off into the sunset I had a weird moment of, ‘I wonder if we were just scammed?’”
I said, what are you talking about? How would you even think such a thought? He said, yeah but the lawyer said . . . and I interrupted, the lawyers! That’s the problem. We had agreed that she sounded completely honest. Who would steal a handicapped van?
One of the things I love most about my husband is how non-judgmental he is and that he trusts everyone. So this weird feeling he said he had was completely out of character.
Over the course of the next few days my husband’s suspicion doubled and my disappointment at his lack of trust tripled. I said what happened to you? Where is your faith in your fellow human being ? This is just the kind of thing that is contagious. Once you start doubting you put doubt into the air and everyone breathes it. It’s dangerous.
I pretty much kept at him until that Tuesday when the check cleared. And that’s when the good wife took a nap and the bad wife served him a tiny hors d’oeuvre of crow on rye. Undaunted, I continued my lecture on how did society get so cynical and what should we do about it and how could we bring people back to their hearts. Until a few days later when I got my karm-uppance with what I shall call the Beach Sticker Incident.
We loaned our car to visiting friends so they could get onto Lucy Vincent. A few minutes after they arrived at the gate, they called us and said the guard wouldn’t let them on because the stickers weren’t up to date. I said that’s ridiculous. Tell the guard to look again. There are so many old ones on the window he probably missed it. Then the guy got on the phone and suggested our stickers may have been stolen from the car. He said they would look out for them and have the offending car towed when they found them. Meanwhile, he advised us to call the town hall and report it. My husband went into semi-accusatory mode. Well of course they were stolen, you always leave the car open, he told me. That’s right, I snapped, and I will continue to leave it open. No one steals on Martha’s Vineyard!
Our friends ended up going to Menemsha and when they returned our car, I looked at the window. Two of the old stickers looked as if someone had tried to pull them off. I could see the logic of their wanting to have a few old ones to make the new ones look legitimate. Then I spotted two faint but perfectly square outlines of smudged glue where I realized the current stickers must have been. I yelled for my husband to come see. Look, I said, they were right there. You can see exactly where they had been. He said, I don’t see anything. Oh yes, I said. That’s where they stole them from, all right. A few days later Dilly from the town hall called. Nancy, she said, “We did it differently this year. Instead of sending out the letter with all the paperwork we just had people come and pay directly at the office. It appears you never got yours.”
I hung up, mortified, and sat there in shock and shame. I called my husband at work and said, I am such a loser! I don’t deserve to breathe the same sweet air as you. What, he said, what is the problem? I was barely audible. I never got the stickers in the first place. This time it was my turn to dine on bird. But Joel Aronie is much more evolved than I. One of his silent mantras is, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy.
It’s just a good thing I’ve never been asked to be a witness at a crime scene. Oh yes, I would say, the guy had dark hair and was carrying a blue bag. I mean a yellow bag. And it was a woman. I’m certain of it.
Nancy Slonim Aronie is the author of Writing from the Heart (Hyperion/Little Brown) and is the founder of the Chilmark Writing Workshop.