The Man in the Ditch

Ice on the windshield

On our way down the hill to swim lessons one morning, we watched a car skid off the road. The streets were slick with autumn rain and the driver of the SUV veered right into a ditch. I felt I had to stop and help since I saw it happen directly in front of me so I pulled over to see if anyone was hurt. Colin and I had traded vehicles that day so Maddie, Jake, and Joey were all sitting side-by-side in the backseat of his grey Camry waiting patiently for me to return.

I walked up to the car and knocked gently on the window to ask if the driver was alright. Yes, he said, he was fine. His ego was bruised more than anything else. The ditch was fairly deep so that the driver’s side was almost perpendicular to the ground. There was no getting out that side. No doubt about it, he was going to need a tow truck. I told him I would call the police and ask for their assistance. They informed me that they’d send a tow truck to pull him out. The driver seemed to really appreciate the time I took to lend him a hand. I wished him luck and the kids and I drove off to class.

Jake and Joey asked endlessly if the tow truck had come to rescue the man in the ditch. By the time we finished at the pool and headed back up the hill he was already gone. They were thrilled to see that help had arrived and could not wait to tell Dad about their adventure.

That night at bedtime Colin posed his usual question to the little boys about what he should sing to them as he tucked them in for the evening. “Wonderful World” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat or Semi-truck or Monkey or [fill in the blank]” are always a hit, but this night they had a different topic in mind.

“Sing about how the man went into the ditch!” Jake and Joe exclaimed.

Colin did not hesitate even for one second. He launched into the first of many impromptu renditions on this theme.

Camp songs, folk, pop, and indie versions, Mexican baladas, dubstep, all performed with fervor and aplomb. The boys ask for it every night and every night he delivers.

They all have the same basic lyrics. Rhyming is optional. Try making one up yourself using this easy formula:

There was a man who slid off the road. He went off into the ditch. We stopped in the gray car to help him. I asked if he was okay. He wasn’t hurt. The tow truck came and pulled him out of the ditch. He was fine.

The other night Colin rattled off a list of song styles from which the boys could pick. You guessed it. They chose opera. Look out, Plácido Domingo!

And on this Christmas day, I got to live out a dream come true. I sang an operatic duet with Colin. I must admit, we were quite good until I got to laughing so hard that I cut out on my soprano part.

I hope they continue to ask him every night for “The Ditch Song.” Colin is up for the challenge. Only please don’t request the country western version. You’ve gotta draw the line somewhere.

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