The Aimless Forty-Five Minute Roadtrip, Part Two / 1 June 1998
Reader, I married him! No, I mean: Reader, I hit the road with all the fury and devilry of a wart hog/banshee mutant hybrid! I was Leadfoot and Leadbelly, my boots of dread pinning the accelerator pedal to the medal [sic]. The noise was beyond comprehension. The ACCORD howled and this howl was one that walked the fine line between agony and ecstasy (a line I walk every day, my friend). My car idles at like 35mph, so you can just imagine (I guess) the sheer velocity that was achieved when I burst onto the scene, full-throttle, full-bore, smoke issuing from every automobiliac orifice, all four tires leaving the confines of the earth for a good three or four seconds as I rocketed away from the dark, humble, squat, tiny, small, really tiny apartment I call home. The neighbors covered their children’s eyes, worried that viewing such a flagrant display of speed, will, and force would thrust them unwillingly into a premature pubescence.
The mix tape was eaten by the cassette deck almost immediately.
I was left with only the sound of my own pounding heart to provide the musical accompaniment. And of course, as you well know, the pounding heart really isn’t all that loud, esp. when driving a non-fine-tuned, non-well-oiled machine like mine.
The road was a sea of hypodermic needles; the sky a massive, boiling marble puree. I decided to stop at 7-Eleven.
ME: [kicking open the doors and hunching down so the clerk would register me as being 5’4” on the ruler by the entrance instead of noting my full, startling height of 6’8” (in barefeet, mind you; soaking wet)] Beef jerky, sirrah, and lots!
7-ELEVEN CLERK: You may be interested in our new salmon jerky. Piquant and sassy.
MYSELF: Do I look like some pinko Commie? This country was founded on beef jerky, chum, and I’d appreciate it if you’d sell your haute cuisine elsewhere, at least while I’m in the house. Do you have the Sprite-flavored Slurpees?
7-ELEVEN CLERK: That you even thought otherwise for a scant moment is an insult.
I: Hook me up!
I also bought one of those egg salad sandwiches that come pre-sliced (diagonally) in a sealed plastic container. A higher power told me to do this, and assured me that it would not have to be eaten, at least not by me, and that was all the reassuring I needed.
Successfully jerked, Slurped, and be(sand)wi(t)ched, I hit the road once again. I followed the car’s impulses, never allowing my conscious mind to take front-and-center. You know how sometimes you completely zone out when driving, just totally lost in your own thoughts, and then you come to and realize that you have no idea how you got to where you are, or if that light you just went though was really green, etc.? I drive like that all the time, only coming to when I pull in to my destination of choice (not that this method of driving is particularly conducive to choosing a destination) and sometimes not even then. I like to always be the passenger, even when I’m behind the wheel. It’s a funny, lovable, even sexy and attractive quirk of mine.
Before long the ACCORD had piloted me out of suburbia and into hillier, woodsier terrain. This was not a surprise. The sun was going down (the making of the mix tape, to be frank, consumed eight hours of the day, thereby delaying my departure, but this, too, was OK) and it was getting to that dusky golden hour that I like, especially after a hot, miserable day. I could smell bark and the simmering of the air. I infrequently went to summer camp or summer camp-type environments, but when I did, the best part was always at this time of day, like maybe seven o’clock, and everyone had spent a busy day milking cows or pitching horseshoes or hiking or making god’s eyes or whatever and we were all sweaty and dirty and aching from the unusual and unwanted exercise and we all went back to our gender-specific cabins and stunk and then took showers and put on deodorant and combed our wet hair and then reconvened with the other gender and ate dinner and then the dusky light got just so and things were about to get dark and maybe creepy and perhaps ominous but definitely alive with sparking hormones and maybe there was potential in the campfire singalong or square dance or whatever horrific event was planned for that evening, you know, maybe something novel and fleshy would happen out there in woods way away from home. That’s the vibe that the ACCORD was hunting for and almost found as we meandered along a curvy, isolated road, perhaps on our way to Santa Cruz or something, I’m not sure. There was a small intersection with a single streetlight hanging from a wire and waving slowly back and forth, like in Twin Peaks. This quickly set a whole new mood, which was in turn replaced by a dissolution of all moods by our emergence into a stretch of mini-malls that had been tucked away in this evidently-faux-wildernessy region.
I got some money from the ATM.
The forty-five minutes was just about up, and the quality of light was fading fast into cheap darkness. The ACCORD was ready to make the U-turn and bring us back home.
You know those cylindrical cement columns that are stuck into sidewalks or in parking lots or wherever? Do those things have a name? For the moment, let’s call them bildungsromans, even though I know that’s something else, but the Bronte reference up top put that word in my head. So anyway, there’s this young woman leaning against the bildungsroman next to the ATM, staring idly at the passing traffic, wearing a tank top with “Krispy Kreme Donuts” stamped upon it. Her shoulders were sunburned; a bright, painful red that contrasted sharply with the pale skin that was just visible underneath the shirt’s strap. I believe I impressed her with how fast I typed in my PIN, having considerable experience, dare I say mastery, with the 10-key due to extensive temp work.
ME: Hi there.
M: Say, I think I’m going to take out ALL of my money, you know, just to look at it, then like deposit it right back in.
SG: I knew you were wild when you pulled in here.
M: [sucking in gut] Of course, sixty bucks really isn’t all that awe-inspiring.
SG: It’ll get you a lot of beef jerky.
M: Speaking of, do you want an egg salad sandwich?
SG: Sure. Sure.
M: [giving it to her] Aloe’s good, you know. For the sunburn.
SG: I like to peel it off.
SG: Peeeeeeeeel it off.
M: Right on, then. I’ll see you around.
SG: Take it easy.
I quickly drove home, sweaty, giddy, the night wind filling the car, my faith in the world temporarily restored.