I Went To A Monster Truck Show / 23 January 2003

I went to a monster truck show in Oakland, Calif. It was the loudest thing ever, louder even than the opening band that one time at the Warfield, the band so loud that my thoughts were shrill and bleached for the rest of the three-day weekend. It was like a baseball game, the monster truck show, with long patches of dead air and then sudden bursts of activity, loud activity.

And loudest of all was the truck that transformed into a robot, though much slower than the ones on TV. It slowly rose up on its hind legs, revealed previously hidden arms complete with missile launchers, and a robot head with glowing eyes. It delivered a long speech to the children in the audience, something motivational, something about believing in yourself, overcoming obstacles, standing strong.

At the far end of the coliseum was a large wooden crate painted bright orange and labeled Negativity. The transformer aimed a missile launcher at it and the thing blew up and it was the loudest sound of all time, and the message got through to the kids.

I went with a girl whose grandfather is a Nobel prize–winning novelist. I read a short story of his in school (“Looking for Mr. Green”) but never any of his books. We choked on carbon monoxide. Our teeth were filmy, our hair unmanageable. The car ride home was wrapped in thick layers of gauze.

Joshua Green Allen

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