Thursday, October 23, 2014

On the Passenger Side

 The view from the back seat isn’t much to behold, just highways and the sad little forests that struggle to survive next to them. Occasionally there is a gas station or a fast food joint, often the restaurants are just different iterations of a chain we've already passed, as if the whole landscape is just a series of copied and pasted images. We are on our way to a laser tag place for Matt’s birthday, although it also has go karts, mini-golf, basically anything a middle school kid would want to do. The three of us, Matt, Joe and I, are packed into the back seat of the sedan, with Matt’s dad driving. When we first got in, I’d joked that we’d have to watch out for the cops, as there are technically only two seats in the back. I was only half joking, though, I actually am a bit nervous about it. My window staring had its origins in the conversation turning to rap, which I generally loathe. At first I’d been somewhat incorporated into the discussion, with Joe or Matt asking my opinion on one rapper or another, to which I’d respond by saying something like, “He’s okay, I guess.” Eventually they must have sensed my lack of interest and decided to just talked to each other, while I happily took to the window. After a while, they begin to compete to see who can rap along to the song playing in the car the best. I think they are joking around at first, but when I turn to look at them, I see they are quite serious. Luckily, I manage not to laugh as I resume my window vigil. As the miles roll by and the rap contest continues, we get off the highway as we approach our destination. Soon after we find ourselves stopped at a light for a while, about 5 minutes. The light must have changed, I’m not looking, dedicated as I am to my window, and we jolt forward, straight into the bumper of the car in front of us. Matt’s dad groans and mutters, “Dammit” as we follow the other car to the side of the road. We park, and Matt’s dad gets out to talk to the other driver. By now the rap contest has ended, and we sit in a nervous silence, watching the exchange outside, which actually seems to be going fine. Finally, Matt’s dad gets back in the front seat and he turns back to us as he says, “It was just a little bump, everything’s fine. So, uh, there’s really no need to mention this to your parents, right?” I find this hilarious on two levels. One, this man thinks he can influence me in what I think I should tell my parents, as if I’m a gullible moron. Two, this guy is nervous about getting in trouble with our parents, which reminds me of worrying about my sister telling on me. I file this under my ever growing folder of evidence against adult superiority. Still, I just nod and go, “Yeah” along with Joe. Relieved, Matt’s dad turns back to the wheel and we resume our journey. I think on it for few minutes, and I decide not to tell my parents. Only those who truly deserve it should have to face my mother’s wrath. Thankfully, with the conversation rebooted, Joe and Matt move past rap, and I join back in, after one last glance out the window.

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