A French woman asked me from the driver's seat where to turn. I pointed to the street and she emphatically and in a strong French accent told me that the homes lining the road were "lovely." Rebecca nodded along, agreeing with her mother's pronouncements.

For reasons that made absolutely no sense to me, I was asked to assist on this mommy/daughter adventure to retrieve Rebecca's vehicle, which was parked somewhere halfway across the valley. They needed it driven back to Rebecca's home in our neighborhood. I was sure there was at least one unnecessary person in this process. And I was sure that one unnecessary person was me. But when Rebecca had called moments earlier and asked me to drive to her house to assist, I knew that compliance would be easier to survive than an explanation.

And in any event, Rebecca time is always welcome in my life. I know few people as wonderful as that half French woman.

Rebecca's mom wanted to make a quick stop on the way to see my house, since she hadn't had the opportunity previously. So I directed her back to my starting location.

She wandered through it, adorably telling me that the structure had charm, but pointing out some serious cosmetic problems through an acerbic and yet somehow polite tone. She informed me that if I simply gutted the entire property and rerouted sidewalks it would be "just right." And then we journeyed on.

We were stuck in traffic for a time. Rebecca and her mother spoke French to each other and every once in a while glanced back at me and politely smiled. I nodded at them when this happened and tried not to express too much with my face because I believe in moments like this that there's a chance I can convince the speaker of the foreign tongue that I'm at least following context.

Finally we reached Rebecca's car. We bid farewell to Rebecca's mother. Rebecca handed me her keys, climbed into the passenger's side, and said "back to my house!"

I did as directed, and we began driving home.

When Rebecca first moved in with me about a year ago and began hiding Easter eggs in my apartment, losing her keys every single day, and leaving every cupboard open, I coined the most common phrase I spoke to her at that time: "you are a complication in my life."

She got used to this phrase, and still, to this day, when she calls to tell me that some disaster has occurred and she needs help addressing it she usually chimes in before I can even say hello, "Eli. First of all. I know I'm a complication in your life. BUT THIS TIME IT'S DIFFERENT."

And it's never really different. It's always just kind of the same.

There was an important thing to remember.

There was a distraction.

The distraction doesn't make a lot of sense.

The important thing was forgotten.

Eli's life is ruined for the day.

Rebecca tries to convince Eli that she really does need to eat a gluten-free diet.

Knowing this formula, I had in the back of my mind as we drove away that something was about to come up. Something that would turn this supposed-to-be-one-hour task into something much longer.

And alas:

Rebecca: Wait. I left my phone in my mom's car.

Eli: Of course you did.

[Eli immediately exits the freeway]

Rebecca: Not "of course." I never forget my phone in my mom's car after she drops us off to pick up my car to drive it back to my house. Don't act like this has happened before.

Eli: For the last time, just because this very specific situation has not happened does not mean that you haven't acted consistently with past indiscretions.


Eli: Ok. So your mom is halfway across the valley by now. How do you want to resolve this?

Rebecca: Oh, I'll just call her.

[Rebecca starts digging through her purse for her phone].

Eli: On what? A pack of gum?

I couldn't blame her. This is akin to repeatedly flipping on the light switch during a power outage so you can find a flashlight. And we've all been there.

Rebecca: Oh. Right. I don't have my phone. That's the problem. But I could call her on your phone.

Eli: Do you know her number?

Rebecca: No.

Eli: Do you know any numbers?

Rebecca: I know 911--

Eli: Once again, not appropriate for this kind of situation.

Rebecca: I know 411. I know 1-800-Contacts. I know my dad's number! And he knows her number!

Eli: Just call your own phone.


Rebecca called her dad who gave her the number to her mom whom Rebecca reached moments later. They arranged a meeting location. We drove through traffic jams. And finally, out of curiosity, I took my phone back and called Rebecca's.

We heard ringing coming from her purse.

Rebecca: Oh. Just a second. Someone is calling me.

[Rebecca digs through her purse and pulls out her phone].

Rebecca: It's you! Did you just pocket dial me?

Eli: You have got to be kidding.

Rebecca: Huh? Oooooooooohhhh.

Rebecca called her mom back and cancelled the meeting.

Rebecca: NO blogging about this.

Eli: Mmmm-hmmmm.

Rebecca: Fine. You can blog about it. But make sure to say I looked very pretty.

Rebecca looked very pretty.

~It Just Gets Stranger