Based on the New York Times’ “Metropolitan Diaries,” the Middletown Diaries will include awkward, funny, novel, or sweet anecdotes, stories, or memories that happen at Wesleyan and in Middletown. To submit to the Middletown Diaries, please email email@example.com.
You know you’ve had a nice life when your car battery runs out and you have no idea how to handle it. If it’s happened to you, like it happened to me, you’ll know what questions immediately come to mind. Who was I supposed to call? Public Safety? A friend with a car who knows car things? My dad?
I called my dad. “Call Triple-A,” he said. Oh yeah! That’s literally their job.
But wait…it’s that simple? I call and they help? How do they know who I am? Do I need money?
“It’s insurance,” he says. “You have an insurance card with all the information you need.”
“Where is it?” I say. I forget that he does not have access to the answer.
“Okay, okay. It’s probably in my wallet.”
“Is it?” he asks. At this point I figure that my IQ has dropped 30 points under pressure.
I pull out my wallet and there are a lot of places to start looking. I file through dozens of business cards handed to me on New York city streets, the kind I can never resist. I toss aside all four of my high school IDs, but not before ruminating over how goddamn identical I look in each one. Four years and nary a sign of puberty. My dad is still on the other end.
My eyes glaze over it at least three times, but eventually the Triple-A insurance card is secure. It even has my name on it. I tell my dad that this is pretty cool. He agrees and is sorry to say he has to get back to work now. My parents must be so proud of me.
I am on the phone with the local Triple-A dispatch and I’m doing great. Then I am asked what year model my vehicle is. Is this something people know? I rush outside and circle the car three times, looking for a birthdate on it somewhere. No dice. My dad has not answered my text-a-friend lifeline. I close my eyes and say “2015.” It seems like a good guess. Maybe Triple-A is wondering why I was softly panting on our call. Maybe they really don’t care.
“2015,” my dad texts me minutes later, and a burst of endorphins pumps through my veins. I am either a Car Whisperer or have encyclopedic memory, but either way, the dispatch on the other end tells me that “Help is on the way, Mr. Jacobson” and I have just aged 10 years in life experience.
– Will Jacobson
I don’t really smoke cigarettes. I am not addicted, and frankly, my lungs are too weak to withhold more than a few light-hearted puffs. But when every 45 minutes or so, half of the reading room clears out for the notorious Olin-steps smoke breaks, I cannot help but follow. Smoke I do not, but procrastinate, I certainly do.
Another thing that you should know about me, diary, is that I am a self-labeled hypothermic. I can rarely ever sport short sleeves, and I shiver uncontrollably whenever a cool wind blows. It really gets me thinking that, in the case of an apocalypse, I surely would be one of the first to go.
Given my condition, I could not have been happier when, insisting a smoke-break, a friend of mine led me to a warm-air grate to the left of Olin when you walk out the front. Akin to a large sewer, and hidden conveniently behind the bike rack, it has apparently become a popular, more intimate alternative to the steps.
As we sit directly atop the ventilator and my body relishes in the heat, something slips out of my friend’s backpack and in between the cracks, into the great unknown. “Eh, it was only a pen,” my friend says. “Guess I’m not seeing that again.”
Midway through my empathetic sigh of relief that it wasn’t her phone that went down the drain, or more importantly, her cigarettes, I lean over and find that my very own phone had joined her pen in the abyss.
People react differently to trauma, loss, grief. My defense mechanism is violent laughter. My body is overtaken by spasmodic streams of hysteria, and I find myself rolling around the moist Middletown grass. Recollecting myself, I look over and see that my friend has successfully lifted the vent’s metal barring. The hole, luckily enough, was only around four feet deep. I jump down, retrieve my phone, and try to avoid inhaling the unholy fumes emanating from the deep recesses of Olin’s basement. The hole is the entrance into a dark cave enamored by pipes and metal bars. I have found a new underground smoke spot, and for the first time all day, I am not freezing.
– Steph Dukich
Sasha Linden-Cohen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.