Mom tells me that sometimes the conversations around the pool resemble a childhood game of ‘Telephone’ (or ‘Whisper Down the Lane,’ as we used to call it in Pennsylvania). In early January this past season, Phyllis and Stan were driving up to Charleston for their niece’s wedding in their 15-year old car with high mileage on it. On the second day they were gone, Mom and Dad went to the pool in the afternoon, as usual.
“Did you hear?” Flo asked Mom as soon as they got there, “Phyllis and Stan’s car broke down in southern Georgia and they couldn’t get someone to fix it, so they had to call a taxi to drive them several more hours to Charleston.”
“What’s he doing driving a car with 200,000 miles on it more than eight hours away, anyway?” Irv asked.
“Especially since they broke down once before – last spring on their way home from Florida,” Hymie added.
The next day when Mom and Dad went to the pool, Susan said to her, “Did you hear that Phyllis and Herb’s car broke down and they had to find a ride to the nearest airport so they could fly to Charleston? Now they have to find a shop that will fix their car or they will have to fly home too. My God, they will end up spending a small fortune for last-minute airline tickets.”
During the next few days when Mom and Dad went to the pool the story kept changing, and the situation was always described as more dire than the day before. The mileage was up to 250,000, the estimated repairs to the car reached astronomical proportions, and the story had become that Phyllis and Herb had to hire a private driver or the bride was going to have to delay the wedding, so that her beloved aunt and uncle wouldn’t miss it.
A few days later when Mom heard (at the pool, of course) that Phyllis and Herb had came home, she called them immediately.
“How are you doing and how’s your car? I was so worried about you,” Mom said to Phyllis, relaying the stories she had heard at the pool.
“Oh my goodness, it wasn’t anywhere near that bad. The car was smoking on the highway – the car has 180,000 miles on it, after all. We called a tow truck and had them bring us to the nearest service station. There we were told that they would have to fix the radiator and it would take about four hours. I called one of the neighbors in my building whose husband was a mechanic to ask her if he thought we were paying a fair price. Which, by the way, he said we were. The guy at the service station actually had the car ready sooner than promised – in three and half hours, and we were on our way. Wow, I can’t believe the stories that were told about us,” Phyllis said.
“Oh, I’m just glad everyone is all right,” Mom told her, “It’s good you weren’t gone any longer, though, or the people at the pool would have had you buying a new car up there just so you could drive home.”
“Well, I do think we’ll get a new car after this experience, but we will buy it down here when we have time to shop around. This one really isn’t too dependable anymore. Besides, if we don’t get rid of this car,” Phyllis said, “the next time we take a trip, the situation might become as bad as the rumors that were flying, or rather swimming, around the pool.”