Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pushing the Panic Button

One of the things I do not miss about teenagers is worrying about them getting home safely at night. This is because I dislike worrying, and I have a vivid imagination, and also because I really like to sleep and get cranky when I do not.
It has been a while since I have anguished over the whereabouts of a vagrant offspring. But last night I got to revisit those halcyon days of pushing the parental panic-button.
A charming 18-year-old godson is staying with us this week while he works in the city for another godparent, as ours is an easy commute and an easy walk to the train station.
All I ask is to be informed when or if said godson will be showing up for dinner, or beyond.
So the dutiful Adrian called to let me know he would be having sushi with a friend uptown and then taking the train that would get him to Hastings by 10 or 11. Fine. I would probably be sleeping over my book (Mental Healers by Stefan Zweig; rather sleepy), but the door would be open and the lights on. Turn the lights off when you come in.
Around 1 a.m., CSB, who wakes at odd hours, told me that Adrian was not home yet.
I called his cell phone but only got a voicemail message.
I began to imagine all sorts of events that might lead us to this particular juncture: Adrian not home and his whereabouts is unknown.
At CSB’s suggestion, I looked up the Metro North schedule to see when the last train got in. There was actually a later one than I thought, getting in at 2:29 am. So I allowed myself to hope that Adrian would be on that train.
Meanwhile, I was worrying about how I would contact Rip and Barbara on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and tell them that their son, who had lately managed to survive 10 months as an exchange student in a remote area of Japan, had gone astray after his first day on the job in NYC.
I kept assuring myself that after all that aphrodisiac raw fish, he and the young lady in question had simply become amorous and afterward he had fallen asleep.
I could equally well imagine that he and the young lady became ill eating the sushi and because it would reflect so badly on the entire Japanese restaurant trade for these young people to be seen vomiting on a sidewalk, the restaurateur performed the culinary version of extraordinary rendition, and dispatched the two nauseated youngsters to Staten Island in an unmarked van.
Then I imagined that while walking home from the train he had slipped and fallen on his head and was lying in the snow in the dark middle of Draper Park, being sniffed by hungry coyotes. Or perhaps he was attacked by a mugger who lost his way to Manhattan and ended up mistakenly in Hastings where he attacked Adrian and now he was lying in the snow in the dark middle of Draper Park, being sniffed by hungry coyotes.
This is what I did not imagine: that in course of an pleasant collegial visit, a friend’s roommate had an asthma attack and had to be taken to the ER, after which Adrian missed one train, got on a later train and fell soundly asleep and did not wake up until the train reached its terminus at Croton Harman, exactly 8 stops and 14.9 miles past the right stop. He arrived in Croton Harmon too late to catch a return train to Hastings, and had to take a taxi home. He arrived several minutes after he would have arrived had he taken the very last train from Grand Central.
Then I slept.

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