Tools for a Girl

On the passenger’s side floor of my car, there’s a black tool bag with thick handles. It says DEWALT on the side.

This little bag says a lot about my personality.

For one thing, it has no tools in it.

Instead, it is filled with antibacterial wipes, an auxiliary cable, extra Uniball pens, a thick stack of Dunkin’ Donuts napkins, a half-used steno notebook, a gift box filled with lip balm and dental floss, and a mini digital tape recorder.

Clearly, I spend a lot of time in my car. I even move this handy bag back and forth when I rent cars for work, so as I drive around, I always have all my stuff with me. It’s kind of like a pocketbook for my car.

The recorder is for those moments when I have a kernel of an idea for a poem or an essay. I have to record these thoughts or write them down, or I never remember them. Sometimes the ideas are interesting, sometimes not. Sometimes months even go by before I bring the recorder into the house and empty it out, and in those times, I can find 50 or 60 recordings, things I don’t remember ever capturing.

I’m not sure why I record some of these nuggets—I don’t know that I’ll ever find a purpose for them. For example, here are some real things I have actually recorded in the last few months:

“I once had a dream about Annette Funicello—that she was going to let me be part of the Mousketeers. I was so excited!”

“I hate it when people tailgate but I also can’t stand people who drive too slowly. What does that mean?”

“Is it better to earn an hour of Xbox by doing an hour of homework, or better to take away Xbox when someone doesn’t do their homework?” (This one is hypothetical, of course.)

And, “Sometimes after I play tennis, I ask the universe, “Who was that girl doing volleys on the run?”

Can you see my problem with these shreds of ideas?

Sometimes, they might turn into a blog piece, or a poem. But sometimes I just scrap them completely. Especially the blank ones when I think I am going to say something and then I forget what it was.

I always save the first three, though, 00-03. These are from about seven years ago, when my son D., who was 9 at the time, got a hold of my recorder when I was in the bank. They are of him singing, in a voice that is an octave or two higher than what it is today.

In the first recording, he sings something to the effect of, “Slow ride, take it easy, nar, nar, nar….dun nun nun…I can slow ride, working, making it all around…I need you to hurry up now, I can’t go much longer.”

Clearly, I was taking too much time in the bank. Either that or he can’t stand it when people drive too slowly either.

The second, 02, is of D. breathing like Darth Vader, blowing into the microphone. 

And 03?  In the third one, he sings, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it and you really really show it, if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”

But then the recording continues onto a second verse: “If you’re happy and you know it, wash your feet. If you’re happy and you know it, wash your feet! If you’re happy and you know it, and you really, really show it, if you’re happy and you know it, wash your feet.”

Clearly, this came from a time when I made him take more baths than he wanted. And these days, now that he’s got the faint smell of Old Spice and has his first girlfriend, I want to make sure to remember those moments.