Pintle hitch.

We arrive at the pub just before it starts to pour; from my seat I’m facing the windows onto the street and I can see the dark green awning flapping furiously in the rising wind. I can’t make out the rain or hear the thunder, but I know they’re out there, a premonition which is confirmed later, on the phone with a friend who tells me he got caught in the storm on the way home.
We’re late; everyone else is already there, so we order drinks to catch up. We’re on the end of the table, and the conversation is happening elsewhere; too many background conversations and Friday financial district flirtations are going on at the bar for us to hear what’s happening.
“We’ll make our own conversation,” I announce. Then, glancing around: “Where’s my drink?”
“So, Josh, tell us about the trailer,” Mike suggests.
“Ah.” Josh settles back into his seat. “I’ll give you the short version,” he says. He’s just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania to pick up a government surplus trailer, a journey which was supposed to take 24 hours but which ended up lasting all week. Our drinks arrive; Josh cracks open his beer and is already deep in a story of typical Josh mechanical misfortune and repair by the time he takes his first sip. When I’ve reached the point in my Manhattan when there is just enough liquid left to enjoy with the cherry, Josh is describing a system of complex oscillations: truck with trailer carrying truck with trailer, everything moving at sixty miles per hour on the Jersey Turnpike, the semi rolling past at seventy-five, the low pressure causing wild fishtailing of both trailers, the improper application of the brake by his father who is driving, all the while Josh screaming “Accelerate, accelerate!” to no avail, and the final scene, in which everything is on the side of the road facing the wrong direction, trailer lashed around now-destroyed truck, the police on their way, everyone in shock.
With his hands, Josh is describing the motion of the pintle hitch which held the trailer to his truck: thumbs and forefingers forming interlocking rings and sliding around each other with too many degrees of freedom. I discard my cherry stem; the bourbon is in the process of wearing away at my ability to concentrate, to filter out the other conversations, and, like a sudden amplification, at the other end of the table I hear the words “trailer” and “hitch”. I look over and see that Jenn is giving Scott the short version we were promised, and I bounce back and forth between the two conversations, Josh going into detail about the police, Jenn skipping all the stuff about Pep Boys and no-room-in-the-inn, until I see Jenn’s fingers form the same imitation of the pintle hitch, interlocking and moving around, making her elbows move in the way one mimics a chicken. There’s a brief lull in the conversation, and I address the entire table.
“I just want to point out that we’ve been listening to Josh tell the ‘short version’ of this story since we arrived, and Jenn has, in less than five minutes, told the exact same story, right down to this—” (here I make the pintle hitch gesture) “—and—”
Laughter all around.
“She copied that from me,” Josh interjects, and everyone laughs again.
“Fine,” he says, “if you don’t want to hear the rest of the story, be my guest.” He throws up his hands in feigned affront. Jenn continues her version of the story; Mike looks expectantly at Josh, so he continues too.
I’m trying to pay attention to both conversations, while staring out the window at the green awning, which is now moving gently in the wind. When we step outside, the pavement is dark and slippery, and, much to my disappointment, the humidity has not broken.


2 thoughts on “Pintle hitch.

  1. I probably like Josh’s version — with the exception of the “near death” realities: thank God he and his dad are alive! — but then, that may because I’ve been contemplating a pintle hitch for the ATV for this fall.
    PS: to Josh: Apparently some “much needed” things are not so cheap, sorry to observe.

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