Hello Kitty sez, “Sorry about your bumper!”


I was supposed to be spending today getting bits of yesterday pummeled out of my crickety back and neck, followed by a long, windy walk around one of my favorite parks in Los Angeles.

But last night, as I walked out to my car after what was headed for the title of World’s Longest (but still Most Excellent!) Day, I spied a wholly unnatural thing: a denuded driver’s side door. As in, no mirror with which to see whether objects are, period, much less whether they are closer than they appear.

I confess to a split second of mental mayhem and fury. In my defense, I was tired. Very tired. Probably too tired to be bucking for Survivor of World’s Longest (but still Most Excellent) Day, but my Bonnerooski was doing a signing/reading/thingamajiggy for 600 of her closest friends which I very much wanted to attend, as I’m a supporter of (a) the excellence that is Bonnie Gillespie’s output in virtually every arena she seeks to play in, and (b) free drinks, and (c) potential meetups with some friends I’ve not seen in too long. (Plus, you know, FREE DRINKS.)

Almost as quickly, it slipped away. Mirror was gone; not much to be done until tomorrow. And bubbled up, but…but…BUT…

And then dribbled away again. Miraculously, I could not get too worked up about it. Not like Colleen of yore might have, anyway, with the fireworks and the fury and the cartoon steam coming out of my ears. Yesterday it was more like, “Mirror gone. Boo hoo,” and done. I have money in the bank to buy a new mirror (in the morning) and free time in which to do it, yay! for lucky, lucky me.

Plus, even if it wasn’t safe for old-lady-eyeballs to jump on the freeway at night, they could certainly lead me to The BF’s, which drive I could likely do at this point had I no eyeballs at all.

So I popped open the door, heaved my stuff onto the passenger seat, and spied it stuck on the windshield.

A sweet, petal-pink buckslip of Sanrio-flavored goodness, with an explanation (“I TOOK YOUR MIRROR OFF TRYING TO SQUEEZE BY A TRASH TRUCK”), an apology (“STUPID MISTAKE I WILL PAY YOUR DAMAGES”) and a name and number. Both of which worked. Made the appointment this morning, part ordered, friendly neighbor paying my mechanics* and sending me a check for time and gas money. Hel-lo, Kitty!

Sure, shitty stuff happens all the time, all over, every ding-dong day of the week. But great stuff happens, too, and it’s worth noting when it happens. To me, the great stuff was not only that earnest little slip of girly stationery some grown man used to own up to a little (but at $298.97, plus tax, not incidental) goof; it was that somehow, with the aid of external events, much patient love and help from many dear ones (amateurs and professionals alike), and the steady application of new and better patterning, a 25-year-old angry fireball of dismal fury and perpetual sorrow could get to a 47-year-old place of joy and relative peace. That, my friends, is the miraculous alchemy of choice and time in action. This stuff works; I’m living proof, and fully intend to see how much farther (further? dammit!) it can take me.

In the meantime, may you enjoy this weird and sometimes wonderful world we live in, every second of every day…


P.S. If one of you smartypants types has a foolproof way for me to remember “further” vs. “farther” without having to look it up on the Google each time, you win a prize. Seriously. I have a prize here that I will send you. But FOOLPROOF. Something along the order of “My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Acronyms that Used to Work Until Pluto’s Planet Status Was Revoked.” You know.

*Reed and Mike, of RM Automotive, who have taken excellent care of me and my two past Corollas for nigh on eight years. Highly, highly recommended for you Angelenos with a Japanese-built auto. (They work exclusively on Hondas, Acuras, Toyotas and Lexii.)

Image by mtl2tky via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. “farther” has “far” in it. Therefore, it applies to distance. I WIN! I will expect my pony to arrive any day now. Or tiara? Or pony wearing a tiara?

  2. gah! I’m too late already! If I quote Fowler’s, could *I* win?
    Fowler (in ’65/’85) all but says that farther is on it’s way out. Farther is, as Joe and Alice say, applicable to distance. When in doubt, further should do it.
    ooh, a tiara-wearing pony. . .
    Great to hear about a “World’s Longest (but still Most Excellent) Day.” They’re rare!

  3. I love this story and it’s a perfect way of framing what kept you from me and free drinks and 140 of our nearest and dearest (and REALLY good cheese, I’m told. I had none of it). (AND FREE DRINKS. Yes. Lots of those. I had 1.5 glasses. I was very good.)

    Love the Hello Kitty of it. Love the neighborly note. Love that your friends have already given you the “far” = distance and that’s how you know what “farther” means. Smart cookies!

    Way to go all glass-half-full on all things. And you crack me up, with your old-lady-eyes. :) You, m’dear, are gonna be the youngest 80 year old I’ve ever known one of these days. I just know it! Like one of those crazy active, spry, “she’s gotta be only 60” types. That’s you from 80 to 120, fur shur.

    Much love on ya. XO and thanks for the email!

  4. I missed the win!

    Anyway, Farther=how far is it from here to there? Will I fart as I walk the distance.

    Further=is time. Will I have to wait to furt?

    You do not wait to fart it is immediate. So if time is involved one uses the “U”.

  5. Isn’t great when things like that happen? It reminds you to have faith in the basic goodness of most people, when it comes down to it. And the Hello Kittyness of it should not be ignored.

    I love Julianna’s suggestion and can’t beat it. The only other suggestion is that I often say when I’m wasting time that I’m furtling rather than going further.

    J xx

  6. well ya know, pluto’s status was revoked by a grand total of 4% of the membership of the international astronomers union, who never bothered to put the question up to a vote of the full membership…so that was sort of a coup, eh?

    anyway…keep that planetary mnemonic rolling…pluto is still king of the dead…long live pluto!

  7. Hooray to all of the above comments! I’m going to share that I’ve recently also pleasantly surprised myself at how I snapped out of sour-puss / chin-outward-thrust moments much quicker than my system used to be used to. All remaining planets seem to have aligned, at least for now, to help me get less upset in general. Innit grand? Feels like much less time’s wasted, and I swear I’ve saved about three and a half wrinkles on my furrowed brow.
    Maybe’s it’s got to do with spring-time in the air or summat. Oh! Maybe it’s Obama and the whole change slash hope thing?
    Just kiddin’.

  8. You know, that is the nicest story I have read all day!

    When I first started reading I was right there with ya’ because some asshole hit our car the other night.

    Let’s just say that I did not find a Hello Kitty note on my windshield. But if I found out who hit my car I am going to staple one fine sheet of Hello Kitty paper to their forehead so they’ll have one handy for next time!!

  9. Love the story, love that you found the note (LOVE that he wrote a note!) and am inspired to pay more attention to my own ‘alchemy of choice and time in action’ (since I already live in the “notice the good stuff that happens all the time” bubble.)

    As Alice noted, I just recall

    “far = father (distance) but “fer” everything else use Further”

    (gotta hear it in your head, I guess.)

  10. Well! What a glorious and generous outpouring of love and grammar! Mignon Fogarty is beaming right now, believe you me.

    Right now, I am torn between THREE mnemonics. THREE. This would not even have been possible pre-Internet. I’d have one crappy one from an outdated grammar book, or maybe what’s-his-face from the Chicago Reader would do a column on it and maybe I’d catch it, but more likely, not.

    Decision very soon. Who knows–maybe there will be multiple ponies.

  11. Farther is for physical or ontological linear distance only. Further often includes farther but also goes much further. Further knows best.

    You owe me 758 dollars for the mirror your stole from me and used for a made-up story. How much further can you take this scam?

    I like you a lot. Lucky you. How do I get time? I need time!


  12. Lovely story. I once knocked off someone’s mirror in NYC and was sandwiched between two cars, unable to go back. I regret it to this day. I’m told I might have just caused it to fold, not broken it. I am not so sure.

    Farther is the word you know. Far. Distance.

    Further is like the Furthr bus: Conceptual, like a drug trip. You go Furthr. Further, that is.

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