The Houseguest is Going to Kill Me

So, in case you didn’t read my last post, the Houseguest kept bugging me to mail her early voting ballot to her while she was out of town.


And then she gave me instructions on taking care of her basil plant.


But what I forgot to mention was she also tasked me with starting her Subaru Forester SUV while she was gone. She’d had battery problems recently and got a new one and she wanted me to start her vehicle up to charge the battery because the Arizona heat is a battery killer, and she didn’t want it sitting unstarted for a month. So, I told her I would.

When she called last night, I was driving cross town after working late. She thanked me for mailing her ballot and taking care of her plants.

Then she asked me if I’d started her SUV.

My stomach dropped. Shit.

No, I hadn’t started it. She’d been gone almost a month and would be returning on Friday (today by the time I post this). I’d meant to start it, but I kept forgetting. Well, I didn’t completely forget — I’d remember when I was on my way to work or when I woke up for a few seconds at 3 a.m. Never when I was at home all weekend just sitting there doing nothing.

I thought about lying, which was always my go-to move when I was younger, but I manned up and confessed I hadn’t started it. I rushed on to promise that I’d do it first thing when I got back to my house. She wasn’t angry, and not really surprised, but mildly disappointed and explained why it was important and I listened patiently. I pointed out it wasn’t that big of a deal because the temperature had dropped considerably while she was away. Not the point, she said and reminded me that she’d started my car while I was in England for a month last year. Touché. Now I felt like an asshole.

So I got home and got something to eat, watched some TV and then started playing video games when I suddenly remembered I needed to start her SUV. I jumped up immediately because if I waited for 5 minutes, I’d get distracted and forget again. Not that it really mattered, I thought to myself. It was just a formality so I could truthfully say that I’d followed through with my promise. I’d start the engine, let it run a bit, Bob’s your uncle, promise kept.

Grabbing her key fob from the large wooden key-shaped key rack hanging near my front door, I strolled out to the driveway. We both park out there because I’ve got all my brother’s furniture stored in my garage still and there’s absolutely no room to park in it.

key rack
Don’t ask me where all these keys come from.

Nonchalantly, I clicked the key fob to unlock the SUV. Instead of her Forester acknowledging my request with a friendly double chirp and an amber flash of its lights as it disabled its security system, it sat there in my dark driveway and greeted me with blank indifference.

I pressed the button again. Nothing.

Must have pressed the wrong one, I thought, so I tried the other button. Nothing.

In a mild but growing panic, I pressed both buttons in quick succession. Absolute silence from the Forester.

And just like that, I was at DEFCON 1. I rushed over to her driver door and pulled on the handle. Maybe her SUV locks were just ultra quiet. No. It was locked tight.

Uh oh.

Sean pondering
How mad can she be?
Sean is doomed
Arrrgghhhh, I’m a dead man!

I tried the rear door. Nope.

Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit!!!

Yes, I was freaking out. Seriously? Her battery was dead? This was exactly what happened when it died on her last time — complete loss of power. Dumbfounded, I couldn’t believe her new battery was dead a doornail. There should be some juice in it. At least enough to open the doors. Why was this happening to me? (Well, because I didn’t start it, would be the obvious answer, duh).

‘Okay. Calm down, Layton,’ I told myself. What’s done is done. I had to move to the next phase and go into problem-solving mode. Obviously, I had a decision to make. There were two options and neither was appealing. Tell her about her battery the next time she called and get a long-distance bollocking over the phone or wait and tell her in person. Did I mention she’s part Persian? No, I didn’t want to do that either.

Actually, there was a third option that I was leaning toward heavily: Saying nothing at all and playing dumb. No, that wouldn’t work — she’d break me just by glaring at me and I’d confess.

What was I going to do? She was probably packing her bag for the return trip as I stood there in the driveway dithering. She was going to kill me for letting her new battery drain. I didn’t think the fact that her basil plant was still alive was going to offset this.

It dawned on me I was going to have to buy a new battery and install it. Wait a second — actually, I could just jump start it. Now, I dislike messing around with batteries — they don’t explode very often, but have you seen my luck? And I went to school with a kid whose car battery blew up in his face. He was lucky he didn’t lose his eyesight, but he looked pretty gnarly while he was healing.

But to jumpstart it, I needed to be able to get in to pop the hood. I tried the door handle again hoping against hope. Still no.

Oh, God. The only way it could be worse was if someone had set her SUV on fire — and for a second, that actually crossed my mind as an option as a way to get out of this predicament by claiming random vandalism. (Yeah, I was the kid who always hoped a fire had miraculously burned his school down overnight when he didn’t do his homework).

I looked at her key fob. No key on it. I have keyless entry on my Mazda, but my fob has a small latch that when depressed, lets me extract a key to use if I need to manually unlock my doors (which I discovered by accident — hey, it’s my first keyless car). But I couldn’t find a key compartment on hers. And then the street light flickered out like it always does, so I walked to my front door for better lighting but my motion sensor light refused to come on. (I really need to do something about that stupid light — the only time it comes on is during the day or when I don’t want it to, like if I’m in my boxers and running out to the trash at 2 a.m., then it comes on and illuminates the area like there’s been a prison break.)

Maybe I should just call her and get it over with?

Hell no.

Back in the house, I looked at her key fob and still couldn’t find a key. Then I glanced at my key rack and something caught my eye. Reaching out, I plucked a set of car keys I hadn’t noticed hanging at the very bottom — they were old-school keys, not keyless entry. Wait, she always buys used cars and her Forester was a bit older. With a tiny bit of hope, I walked outside and pressed the button and the Suburu double-chirped and the amber lights winked at me to let me know I was a dumbass and had been using the wrong keys.

An immense sense of relief washed over me, and I felt like collapsing to my knees in thanks. Instead, I got in and I tried starting the Subaru and it fired up immediately and ran like a charm. After running it for a few minutes, I turned it off and went back inside. I looked at the first key fob — it was a Honda. It must have been my brother’s. One of his last wishes was for me to give his car to a young woman he’d worked with, and I’d obviously forgotten to give her his spare set of keys when I gave her his car.

God, I needed a beer after that.

4 thoughts on “The Houseguest is Going to Kill Me

  1. Lisa Porter Cordovana

    I was so enthralled with your storytelling (as always), it never once occurred to me that you had the wrong ones (trying to avoid spoiler here)! That’s a good story, Sean!


  2. kierankr

    “the amber lights winked at me to let me know I was a dumbass and had been using the wrong keys.” I hate it when a Subaru tells me I’m a dumbass… I am used to it coming from the Lying Nazi Bullshit Diesel.


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