I pulled up to the stoplight the other day. It was an ordinary stoplight, an ordinary day, in an ordinary town, as ordinary as life has been made to seem these days.
So ordinary, in fact, that I was driving my wife’s minivan. It’s white. It’s got coffee stains on the cloth interior. It has almost 100,000 miles and one of the doors opens with the touch of a button. It’s not paid for, not just yet. It’s screams mild-mannered and is just so damn sensible. It would be the perfect robbery getaway car here in the Midwest, since it looks EXACTLY like every third vehicle here, minus the ubiquitous “Bush 2008″ sticker we don’t have. It’s fuel efficient. It pulls slightly to the right when braking, since she tends to drive like a meth-fueled Nascar racer, going through brake rotors at an alarming rate. It’s air conditioned. It smells of leftover breakfast things and hockey gear and quietly desperate suburban living.
It kills me.
Back to the other day. I roll up, windows rolled down to let the smell of unkempt homeless guy/ farting children out. My lovely, delightful boys were engaged in some sort of Star Wars games on their personal electronic devices, so as to keep us from actually interacting. They weren’t fighting each other, so I was feeling like Father Of The Year. I was happy to crank some tunes on the factory-issued 6” speakers that came with our beloved minivan, plugged into my own electronic device to which I am a slave, thereby marking me as a hopelessly middle aged wannabe technophile. The music? Well, it was a gangsta-rap kinda day, and I was in the mood for some Snoop Dogg, because I can, in no way, relate to anything about the lifestyle he’s living, so of course, I love it. I love it, but I’m a semi-responsible parent, too, so I had it on the radio-edit version. I really don’t feel like explaining to my children that we don’t refer to women that way, we don’t use the n-word like that, we don’t pull our gats out and perform drive-by shootings in the name of respect. At least, not in the minivan.
So there we are, thumpin’ to the beat (or, I am) waiting, wondering if I should be a rebel today and order an iced coffee WITHOUT my requisite 2 packets of Splenda when we drive through Starbucks; I’m basically living the dream. In the distance, I hear a high pitched whine approaching that can mean only one thing: a horde of crotch-rocket sport bikes was rapidly descending upon our same stoplight. Three or four of them throttle down, pull alongside us, kick it into neutral and rev their engines several times to assert dominance over one another, and more specifically, to annoy everyone around them. And there she was.
Perched on the back of one of these Road Rockets Of Most Assured Death At High Speed, she sported low-rise jeans with the inevitable “tramp-stamp” style tattoo just above the crack of her backside, a long flowing ponytail billowing out of the back of her helmet and, get this, stiletto high heels. The helmet was a full face model, thereby leaving my imagination to fill in the blanks as to just how beautiful she most certainly was, hands clutched around the driver, who would no doubt be sporting too much Axe Body Spray and a backwards hat, if not for his helmet. As he gunned the throttle up and down, she turned her head to the side and our eyes locked. I recognized the look in those eyes. Not lust. Not love. Not like.
Here she was, poised to take off to 115mph. in a matter of moments on a city street, looking at me, getting 18 miles to the gallon at 5mph. under the speed limit. I represented, in that moment, everything she and her sleeveless-shirted boyfriend weren’t: they were careless, carefree, willing to die in a hail of asphalt and bumpers and look damn good doing it. She was wearing STILETTO HEELS for godssakes. She probably thought I was wearing mid-calf-high socks with Teva sandals, which for the record, I wasn’t. “Wow,” she was probably thinking, “look at that poor, nasty old sap, listening to that old hip-hop with his kids in the Toyota Grocery Getter. Gawd. Who wants to live to be THAT old? Wind that throttle out again, Ricky, you stud.”
Just like that, the light went green, and they roared off to the next frat party or sports bar or cocaine-flavored techno club. “But wait, “ I feebly protested, with my fist in the air, “I have a mortgage. Health insurance. I recently lowered my cholesterol, and I make a mean piece of sourdough toast.”
Too late. She was gone, our love never realized. It never would be. She will continue to seek thrills at high speeds in high heels, and I will be in bed by 9:36pm after a nice hot cup of tea. She has no idea what she’s missing; very little can match the exhilarating feeling of knowing you can seat 8 semi-comfortably.
Just for the hell of it, I purchased that coffee without Splenda. Because, beneath this khaki exterior, beats the heart of a bad boy. A bad boy with good cholesterol and a white minivan.