I knew I was taking a chance when we left that morning, but for some reason I thought I was going to pull a Tabitha and think that maybe if I crossed my hands, twitched my nose and blinked a few times money would appear in my debit card and I would be able to fill up my car with gas to get through what was going to be a long and many miles to drive day.
No such luck.
First on the agenda was getting my daughter to her day camp. Her camp that her father picked. Her camp that was a two minute drive from her father’s house and a 40-minute drive from mine. Camp that was three days a week.
Let’s do the numbers, that’s two 40-minute drives three days a week (of course, that’s if there’s no traffic and there is ALWAYS traffic)… So, that’s two two-hour drives, three days a week, during a summer where gas is roughly $3.19 a gallon and I happen to drive an SUV because… well, I’m cool. And stupid.
I bought the car when I had a job on a TV show and thought it was not fair to all those wealthy writers and producers and actors to have to see me drive up in a beaten up automobile missing a side-view mirror with stickers in the windows from my girl’s personal toddler collection. So, I purchased the spanking new SUV and have been tossing money down it’s friggin’ tank ever since.
Anyway, my daughter and I have a routine for camp days. We stop at the doughnut shop around the corner from her camp and she buys her usual glazed sixty cent doughnut and shoves it in her mouth before hitting the fun-filled, water-play, horseback riding, bumper-car-racing, group-singing, bow-and-arrow-shooting, magic-show watching, theme-inspired day.
Did I mention her father picked this outrageously-priced (yet, my daughter is desperately in love with it and one day wants to be a counselor there) day camp? I did.
Okay, as for mom, I had a very, VERY big pitch to deliver at ABC studios that day. Yes, I am soooo important. So, this was no time to be poor. But, poor I was. I had zero gas in my car. Zero money in my bank account. Zero change in the car and yet I believed if I wished hard enough that damn gas station swiper thingy would magically approve my card, I’d fill her up, worry about it later, get my precious child her doughnut and her sweet Harry Potter-themed ass to camp (a costume that cost more than forty bucks and all I could think was that those friggin glasses and flying broom doohicky should be filling up my tank right now).
And, why did the themes always land on the days my daughter was with me? I mean, couldn’t her dad fork out some dough on a costume once in awhile? Not to mention after getting her to camp I still had to turn around and get my butt showered, dressed, and looking hip, young and successful… oh, whatever, get showered and dressed would suffice. Get to that beautiful studio where Mickey and his friends dwell and of course sell my pitch so then I will never have to worry about gas again… or at least not for another season.
Do I need to say my plan did not go as I hoped? There we were at the Studio City gas station and I could not even squeeze a drop into my car. My mini Harry Potter was fixing her Harry Potter scarf when I said, “Baby, we need to go back home for a second. Mommy forgot something” (yeah, like money, a stable career, her mind, etc).
I got us back home — thank goodness the gas station is right on the corner — and I told my girl to wait.
And here it comes, friends. I ran upstairs like lightning and went to the only room in the house that I knew had money… my daughter’s. I crawled into her closet, opened her fuzzy pink piggy bank (which is not a pig at all but rather some strange oval shaped thing she got as a hand-me-down) and dumped the change out.
Now, keep in mind, technically, this is my money because it’s change my kid has collected from around the house, my purse, my drawers, my pants… but she has deemed it hers and I have to say in this moment I am extremely grateful for my daughter’s excellent job of cleaning up after her mom. I managed to get exactly six dollars in change for gas, and sixty cents extra for her doughnut.
Jump back in the car, back to the station, dumped the pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes on the attendants counter, put the gas in, watched as my gas line literally went from being below empty to simply empty, and took off for camp… Harry Potter having no idea all the while that her mama is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
She chatted away in the back, I sat in front wondering, how am I going to get through this day? Forget day—how am I going to get home? I swear, I can now see how a woman can turn to prostitution in a minute.
I mean, I knew if I offered that attendant a quicky that would certainly get me at least half a tank, right? And then I remembered—while answering my girl’s questions about meteorites and singing along with Pink—(it’s amazing how mom’s can kick into automatic pilot mom while in the midst of a mental nervous breakdown), I remembered that huge “We Give Cash for Gold” place I had driven by for years on Burbank. I mean, years I have wondered, “Do they really buy gold? Really?”
Well, my friends, today, mama was going to find out.
I had been carrying around this gold necklace in my glove compartment for a few months thinking maybe in a real emergency I’ll stop into that place and see if what they say is true. After all, it was a necklace I never wore that my ex gave me that belonged to his stepmother whom he never liked and who never liked me, so it had absolutely no sentimental value at all and for all I know was possibly cursed and the very reason for my string of bad luck. Could it be worth anything? Would they buy it—if buying gold is really what they do?
Still singing to Pink we pulled into the doughnut shop, I handed my girl her 60 cents and watched as my beautiful happy daughter hopped out, went into the shop, grabbed her morning doughnut, and hopped back in the car, her Harry Potter wand never leaving her side.
I got her to camp, explained mommy couldn’t park today and go in with her (hell, the car may never start again), so kisses and out she went, off to have the time of her life… and, c’mon parents, isn’t that really what it’s all about??
I hit the pedal for that gold shop. Feeling the car rumble and shake, sucking on the bits of juice I fed it. I didn’t care I was in my pajamas, hell, I bet most people who enter these places are in their pajamas. I placed that necklace on the counter and said, “What can I get for this?”
I felt like a gangster. It was kind’ve exciting. The man smiled, with his eyeglass to his eye, and carried it to the back. When he returned he tried to make small talk… was he flirting? Dude, I’m in my pj’s asking for money, clearly I’m not a catch. But, screw it, I banged out the flirty smile, and hoped my sweetness might add to the deal.
“Eighty dollars,” he said. Seriously?! That’s more money I’ve had all month!
“I’ll take it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”
So, what’dya know… they do give cash for gold. I filled up my tank like a superstar, showed up for my pitch, “Yeah, that’s right… I drove here on a full tank of gas and even have a few bucks left over for a Starbucks.”
I pitched my heart out, I picked up my daughter and as we drove home I heard every single word about her glorious day.
And then this little hand with baby dimples still on the knuckles reached over to the front seat, “Mama, I had the best Harry Potter costume of everyone. Thank you…” and she handed me her magic wand.
We looked at each other in the rear view mirror and smiled. Life is magic, indeed.
But, just in case… I’ve decided to keep my gold wedding ring in the glove compartment for insurance