I didn’t really publicize it – in fact, I didn’t mention it at all, because I suck – but I committed to do a 3 mile walk for the American Heart Association this past Saturday as a part of DWW’s work team. Now, I don’t know WHY I agreed to do a 3 mile walk, first thing in the morning on a weekend…I really think I had a quick flash of temporary insanity or gout or BDS (Bacon Deficiency Syndrome), but before I could even think it through, I was nodding my head at the phone, and my mouth was saying “Sure, I’ll help raise money and also gladly go on a 3 mile walk through downtown Dallas on the Saturday morning of my band’s comeback gig after a 7 month delay. HAPPY TO HELP!” And there I was. So, after delaying (read: procrastinating), I finally sent out some emails requesting dontations (a BIG thank you to Randi, HDW, Bryan, and Jana S), and began mentally preparing myself. For my gig, not for the walk. I avoided thinking about the walk the same way boys avoiding thinking about the finer points of girls until they hit age 8 or 9. And through the fog of the band’s impending gig, the date of the Heart Walk crept up on me until BAM – it was Friday. One day away.

Because I had agreed to go on the Trail of Tears, it meant the Ill Ninos, my angelic sons, had to come along with us. I knew good and well that there was no way that a 5 year old and a 9 year old would be willing/able to make that trek without me having to carry one or both of them on my back like a Mexican pack animal. I went out Friday night to see my friend Sarah performing, and on the way home, I stopped by All Mart – I mean, Wal-Mart – and bought a little red wagon, figuring that I could use that to pull our water, hats, other supplies, and possibly a kid or two. I realized that when I carried the box out to my truck, the wagon was disassembled, but I really didn’t know exactly how disassembled it was until I dumped out all 345942509 pieces on the floor at 12:00am. And when I saw all the glittering metal and hard plastic and murky instructions, I just sat on the couch and stared at the ceiling. And right at that moment, my cell phone buzzed 3 times: a text from Elle, asking me what’s going on. Would you like to see the exchange? Of course you would.

Dark – I’m sitting here with 302991920 pieces of wagon I’m putting together for tomorrow’s American Heart Association walk.

Elle – Pic!

I sent her this pic:

Elle – Is that….a shoe?

Dark – It is.  It’s my other hammer.

Elle – Good luck!  Send me a pic when it’s done.

(thirty minutes of turmoil go by)

Dark – I DID IT!

(Sent her the completed work)

Elle – STOP LYIN’!  You went out and bought one already put together!!  How are you gonna fit two kids in THAT?

Dark  –  I BUILT IT, HEFFA!  And only one kid at a time.  Too bad so sad.

Elle – Send me a pic when that motherfucker falls apart mid walk.

Dark – Fuck you.  This bitch is sturdy.

Elle – Yeah.  Ok.  Send me a pic when it AINT sturdy.  LIke tomorrow at mile two.

Dark – How bout I send you a pic of my middle finger when it completes its journey?

Elle – Its journey?  As in, wagon pieces in your sad arms?  Yeah.  Send me one of that.

Dark – I’ll include one of you kissing my ass, too.  This wagon is built to last.

Elle – You had a shoe.  As a hammer.  The end.

Dark – Is it on 4 wheels?  Yes?  Suck it.

Elle – 4 wheels of sadness and broken dreams.

Dark – I didn’t need the shoe.  It’s stout.  It’s solid.  It’s stable.  Don’t hate, I’m great.

Elle –  Where are the seat belts?

Dark – It’s a WAGON!  No seat belts.

Elle – Good luck with that.  One word.  9YO.  He will be doing back flips in that motherfucker.  I am gonna pray for their safety.

Dark – Gravity is a great teacher.  Alright, pirate.  Going to bed.  Long ass day tomorrow.  Love yo punk ass!

Elle – Love yo punk ass.  Have fun.

Unfazed, me and my glorious wagon finally went to bed, satisfied with the completed task and ready to face the day.

Hurricane Ike decided to mosey its huge ass up I-45 Saturday morning, so the day started off grim and overcast. Because the walk was taking place in downtown Dallas, and because I don’t live near downtown Dallas, we decided the best thing would be for us to take the train downtown to avoid paying parking fees. So I got my pretty red wagon, packed the wife and kids in the jeep, and shuffled on down to the train station so that we could go directly to the American Airlines Center, the kick-off spot for the Walk of Doom. And no sooner had we “deboarded the train” (a phrase I heard the conductor say about 18 times that morning) than the skies opened up and made the entire event a very undesirable wet t-shirt contest. There were literally thousands of people there, all dressed in their team colors – powerful reds, bold greens, stoic whites…all for the sake of the AHA. Our team? Powder blue. Carolina blue. More Effeminate Than Gay Smurfs In The Castro District During A Midnight Showing Of ‘Hairspray’ blue. Either way, everyone was getting absolutely drenched, including the incredibly awful cover band who bravely foolishly tried to keep playing Heart songs during the deluge. Idiots.

After the rain backed off a bit, the people started making their way to the walk’s starting point, at the main entrance of the AAC. By this time, 5YO was ready to ride in the Wagon of Smiling Faces, so he got in, we threw in the backpack we were carrying, and off we went to meet up with the rest of the Pretty Princess blue team. As I pulled the wagon up over a curb, I heard an odd sound.

*tingalingalingalingaling!*

The sound generally came from underneath the wagon, so I stopped, looked underneath it – and found this lying on the ground:

I knew what this was. It was a screw plate that I had a bit of trouble with the night before, on account of the fact that I couldn’t screw the corresponding bolt any tighter into it. But I didn’t worry about it, ’cause the instructions clearly stated that it needed to be kinda loose anyway so that the handle would turn easily. But there it was, lying on the concrete like a turd with a gold dubloon in it. (Can’t track that analogy? It’s like this: it kinda makes you sick to see it, but at the same time, you’re compelled to reach for it. See? That’s how my mind works. You’re welcome.) I picked it up, hoping against hope that the wagon was still functional without it. After all, it’s just one little screw plate. How bad could it jack things up, right?

Right.

I pocketed the screw plate, turned back to the throng of walkers, and pulled that Wagon of Idyllic Joy.

And the front axle came clean off.

The Wagon of Pure Angelic Delight quickly became the Wagon of Dismay and Much Teeth-Gnashing, because the whole front end of the bastard dropped as though I had the thing on hydraulics. I was beyond pissed, for three main reasons:

  1. Since we didn’t drive, I couldn’t just take it to the car. I now had to DRAG this piece of moose excrement along the entire 3 mile walk;
  2. I put so much effort into building it, and I followed the instructions to the letter, with no extra parts or shortcuts;
  3. Laurie was right.

Trust me, that last one was by far the worst one. The worst. I hated that she was right. I hated that she totally called it, ahead of time. I hated that I had defended this wagon like I was Johnny Cochran, and the wagon was a little-known athlete named Orenthal who was just misunderstood. I swear, I shook my fist at the clouds. We evacuated the wagon immediately, and I (not so) gently placed the front end back onto the busted axle and proceeded to pull this lame bastard along behind me as we started the walk. I couldn’t tell her yet. I knew I had to – even I recognize a good story, even if I’m the victim. But not yet. It was 8:50 am, and I had 3 miles to walk with a reject from the Island of Misfit Toys. We started the walk, and I waited a full 30 minutes before initiating this exchange:

Dark – The wagon broke 30 mins ago.  Fuck you twice.

Elle –  HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Dark – Now I have to drag this broken bitch for 2 more miles.  FUCK THIS WAGON!

Elle – Holy shit.  You must must blog this.  Holy shit.  I am literally crying.  Picture!

Dark – I’ll take one when we stop.  It won’t be any LESS broken.

Elle – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!  oh dear god.  Pick it up!!!!!!!!!

Dark – It still rolls, but the front axle fell apart.  I did it RIGHT, Elle!  I did!  Cheap shit.

Elle – I know you did!  There must have been a missing piece!  Or maybe you should have used the shoe!

Dark – I will kick you.

Elle – Go ahead.  Let go that broke ass wagon first.

Dark – Did I mention that it’s also raining?  No?  Well, it is.

Elle – Oh dear god.  You are right out of a country song aren’t you?

Dark – I really am.  And there’s dogs.  I’m madder than you in front of a closed beer store.

I sent her this pic to illustrate my plight:

Elle – Damn.  Good one.  Only two more miles!!!  You can do it!!!!

And I ceased communication. Not even so much because I was mad – hell, by then, even I thought it was funny – but because around mile 1.5, I realized that I really needed all my strength and focus for putting one foot in front of the other, and text messaging was cramping my style. And my hamstring. And my calves. Eventually the kids grew brave enough to ride in the Wagon of Mental Anguish, and it held together through sheer will power, moxy, determination, and one bolt that looked like it was ready to jump ship at any moment. But it made the journey in (more than one) piece, and so did the rest of us. Wanna see the wagon, post-Hurricane Ike?

This is the wagon’s semi-final resting place, in my garage. See how the front wheels are completely separated from the wagon? Yeah. That’s the hotness, right there. I suppose I’ll fix it one day soon, but I want it to sit there and think about what it did to me on Saturday. I need to put that screw (you) plate in the garage with the wagon so they can think about that shit together.

Here’s one more shot of the American Heart Association Heart Walk. Lots of people giving of their time and money to help cure a disease that affects so many. I’m not normally a philanthropist, given that I don’t usually have anything to give, but I’m glad to have been a part of this day. It was amazing to see so many out there in a driving rain, walking for life. It was awesome.

But next time? I’m getting the kids some roller skates.

Peace.

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