Secret Pop

Oct 3, 2002

The highway is a place of mystery.

I was stuck in gut-wrenching, toe-curling, groan-invoking traffic today. It took me forty minutes to go less than a mile. While I was mostly sitting still in my lane, there was a big trailer truck to the right of me, and I was taking note of how low the trailer was. Those trucks are nowhere near high enough off the ground to permit things like that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where the Griswolds' station wagon ends up lodged beneath one on the way to the Christmas tree farm, to ever happen in real life. When I got to the site of the delaying incident, I saw a dark red passenger car wedged under the trailer of a very similar truck, all scrunched and facing diagonally and mostly in the wrong direction. It looked as if it had been kicked in there by the foot of god. The scene was a mess, but I distinctly found myself hoping that no one had died. Under normal circumstances, when subjected to such a monstrous delay, I have been known to think that someone had better be dead up at the front of all of this. This had better not be the result of a boxful of kittens getting loose in the slow lanes and paralyzing drivers with their cuteness. There had better be bloodshed when I get up there. But today, I didn't feel that way at all. I hoped no one died on the 405 today. It was a pretty day. The sun was warm on my jeans. I had the company of good music and no great rush to be anywhere immediately. I invited other motorists to merge in in front of me. I was grateful when other motorists allowed the same with me. It was a good-natured hullaballoo, and I was fine with it.

And once I was through it, the road was clear nearly all the way home. I went flying along the mostly empty lanes, sort of wishing I was in a convertible with a long scarf tied in my hair and big 1960s sunglasses on my face. But then I remembered the story of Isadora Duncan and how much I hate how grimy my skin feels when I've been driving in a convertible and I was content to blast the air conditioning and the music and speed for home.

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