I have cataracts, just like my old dogs who are dead now but not from cataracts, from other things that happen at the same time like extreme old age which I don’t have yet but I’m working on it, the cataracts giving me a hint of what is to come, the blurring of everything valuable into one big colorful stew like the lights on the San Diego freeway a few days ago where I resolved to drive like I lived there so I punched the gas going down the ramp and merged like a Las Vegas dealer hides the Ace of Hearts in a deck of cards he’s shuffling for tourists from Des Moines, the turn signal on my rented red car clicking like a timer, there is only so much time, I tell myself, make the most of it.
Fear chaos car scrum
Roundabout fast outside lane
Curved to straightaway
I was driving my ’72 VW Beetle down the tight circular ramp from the top floor of the parking ramp. My boss, who sometimes doubled as a friend, sat next to me, his notebooks and papers on his knee, watching me play the clutch and the brake around the curves.
“Do you always ride the clutch like that?”
The insinuation was plain. The question masked the criticism. He thought I was a fearful driver. He didn’t say it but I could smell it in the car. The little, fragrant tendril of disdain.
He thought I drove like a girl.
Fuck that. Just weeks before I had a guy tell me I drove ‘like a man.’ I remember glowing, ramming the car into 3rd gear seconds after we hit the street, working the gears at the light like I was an Indy driver under yellow.
Do you always look 48 times before changing lanes?
Do you need to enlist a pedestrian to help you parallel park?
Are you afraid of passing semi-trucks on a two-lane road?
Do you always ride the clutch like that?
I’m not drawing any conclusions from your answers, you know. Just curious.
Next time, I’m going to ask you how you throw.