Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Have You Misplaced Anything Recently?

With Char and Tom's permission, I am writing about karaoke last night at The Chalet. Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.

Spring has sprung here in Minnesota. The birds are singing, robins are being sighted all over town, the grass is turning green, and a couple more days like today (70 degrees! In March!) and the remaining piles of snow will melt all away. I was able to open the windows today to air the place out and enjoy a little sunshine (yes, spring fever has hit me, the vampiress who abhors the sun).

With the wonderful weather outside and a certain religious holiday (named for a Pagan god and set on a time table so the Christians could covert more Pagans) going on, karaoke at The Chalet seemed to be a slow, intimate evening. Everyone was relaxed, DM and I arrived at our normal time and didn't mind that Bryan didn't get the show started right away. We sat and talked with him, text messaged Char and Tom to see if they would be joining us, and looked through phrase books in Portuguese*. Char and Tom did text us back to let us know they would be showing up.

When they arrived, Bryan started up the singing. We sat and laughed and had a generally good time. Char was not feeling so hot, she had a reaction to something this past week and was dealing with itching and swelling, yet she still smiled and tried to make the best of it.

Because she was not feeling 100%, the duo decided it was time to head for home. We said our good-byes and then out the door they went. Two minutes later, the door opened and they came running back inside.

"Someone stole our tires!" This is what Char told DM and I. I grabbed my coat and left DM inside to talk with Dean, Liz, and the others who had joined our table. (She also made sure our stuff was safe and secure.) When I got outside, I stared at the front end of Char's car in disbelief. 'Who steals tires?' kept playing over and over in my head.

Char called the police and an officer arrived to the scene rather quickly. While we were waiting for the cop, I went back inside to let Bobby know what had happened. Bryan also looked concerned and I shared the incident with him.

Soon, Bobby and Bryan both made trips outside, to see the damage themselves and to also check out their own tires. Sure enough, there sat Char's vehicle, propped up on the two jacks that the criminals left behind. The thief (or thieves) even left the lugnuts behind!

As we were standing outside, I had a strange feeling of deja-vu. A few months back, DM challenged me to write a novel. I have about 35 pages of it complete. It is a murder, suspense story about two girls leaving karaoke and witnessing a murder in the parking lot. Yes, it is loosely based on our adventures at karaoke (mainly setting and stereotypical characters). All of a sudden, I found myself at the scene of a crime, surrounded by the 'Jovial karaoke host' and the 'Bartender/Bouncer', shaking my head in disbelief and awaiting the police to arrive and survey the damage.

Char handled the whole situation like a pro. She was calm, collected, and started to laugh. I guess there are times when the only thing you can do is laugh. We all joked about what happened; knowing it's not that funny, yet it was. It "sucks rock" that Char and Tom have to pay a deductible to get new tires, new brakes (when the car fell, one of the rotors landed on the jack), new rims, and minor body repair to their car. We all compared Maplewood, Minnesota to New York City, trying to figure out why someone would even bother with stealing tires. The weather was nice, but it wasn't nice enough to lay on the ground and take a couple of tires off a car at midnight. One of the things we kept saying was, "I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ than to jack a couple of tires."

The officer arrived at the scene about the same time karaoke erupted. A bar down the road closed at 1 AM and all the drunks headed to The Chalet. Quite quickly, the volume inside The Chalet multiplied ten-fold. The officer, a nice "Boy in Blue" looked puzzled when Char told him that her tires had been stolen. He started the report and then got out of his squad car. Walking towards the front end of the vehicle, he grabbed his flashlight to take a look. "Sure enough, your tires are missing," he stated, oh so matter-of-fact.

A couple other regulars walked outside when the policeman arrived. We stood around talking to the cop for a few minutes and he made an observation, looking at one of the regulars and at Char. He pointed at the guy and said, "Where do I know you from?" This, of course, started the jokes. I can just imagine the jump one’s heart must take when an officer points and questions your identity. Char mentioned, "Well, imagine him like this [she puts her hands behind her head, fingers laced together]." The cop laughs and gives Char his card.

Was it just fitting that the officer who helped Char on Easter be named, "A. Gabriel?"

We headed back inside for the remainder of karaoke. We wanted to wait until the parking lot cleared out to see if we could find the last remaining lugnut on the ground. Liz kept telling Char, "I know it's not funny now, but think of the story you will always have!" Everyone was positive and sympathetic. We tried to joke about the 'Tire Fairy' who takes the tires but then replaces them. We joked that we just caught someone in the act of rotating Char’s tires. Unfortunately, none of these ideas were true, yet they helped lighten the mood. When the bar closed, we headed out to look for the lugnut. It was not found and then I drove DM home. Then I took Char and Tom out to at late night dinner and home to their place.

Char was able to get her car towed this morning to a shop near her home. The good news is that she was planning on getting new tires anyway. She had considered doing it this past weekend. She's quite happy she waited. And now she has a good story. Also, she was able to get medication for her allergic reaction and doesn't itch anymore.

Char was also able to leave a message for our supervisor explaining why she couldn't make it into work tonight. She told him, "I misplaced my tires." Needless to say, but I'm going to anyway, he was quite confused to get that message and then get a phone call from the tire company for her. We like to keep him on his toes.


*One of the phrases in the book is, "Will you put water in the battery?" Maybe this is a culture thing, but why would you put water in a car battery? Is this a lost in translation type of thing? I would think the whole electrical current and water combination being bad is pretty universal.