No air conditioning.
As the (dry, but still) heat started to climb, I realized that James and I were gonna have to get the heck out of Dodge… and in a hurry. (Mommy and Daddy had gone to the doctor, and then to run some air-conditioned errands.)
It reminded me of when we had to flee Malibu when James was 4 days old, the strangely prophetic flames chasing us down the mountain to the sea.
I grabbed bathing suits, a juice box, and a change of clothing. Then I jumped in Jay and Katherine’s car to pick James up from preschool.
I need to tell you about this car.
Once upon a time, it belonged to my husband. He bought it when our then-High-Schoolers shamed him into trading his businessman sedan in for an SUV.
He wasn’t in love, so he deeded it over to the newlyweds before they headed west to pursue their dreams. My eldest and her husband are not into cars. That old SUV has been their only vehicle ever since. It is riddled with the battle scars of LA traffic. (Why would you ever take it to a Body Shop, when it’s just going to be dented again the next day? People would probably key it just to make it fit in with the other bumper cars on the road.)
I am definitely not one to point the finger at anyone else’s vehicle. At one point early in our marriage, one of my husband’s friends recommended that he purchase a dog pen on wheels for me, so he could just hose down the filth periodically. I had the exact same fender-bender 4 times in my college car. (A very cool, very fast, dark green 1970 Camaro. My mother actually cried when my indulgent father bought it for me.) Even now, my husband is hesitant to send the 50th-Birthday-Mom-Finally-Got-A Nice-Car car to the shop for fear that a fresh scrape or dent might appear the day after it was fixed. So we leave the souvenirs of past indiscretions to serve as future warnings.
Bottom line: We are not car snobs. If the house and the individual are decently presentable, that’s enough.
So, back to the story:
I was off in the Blue Bomb II* to get James and high-tail it to Santa Monica, where 6 miles means at least a 10 degree difference in temperature.
Stopping at a major intersection, I looked to the left. There was a tiny speck of a car heading my way from a long way off. I turned a respectable right into the right lane, not screeching on two wheels, but not at a snail’s pace, either.
I hear a loud, angry, insistent horn coming from the left, where the tiny speck has morphed into a black Mercedes SLR McLaren Roadster,**headed my way at about 100mph.
But that’s not my problem. I am going the speed limit. Mr. Mercedes roars right into my rear end, and hugs it. When there is about 3/4th of a car space between the car in the left lane and me, he defies physics and squeezes around me and in front of me.
…where he decides to forcibly apply his brakes, while brandishing a middle finger toward the sky.
I have a millisecond where the dark side wins. Where I brandish back. Where the stress of the past few weeks and the abnormal hideous heat and the nasty sinus infection I’m hosting win out over every other consideration. I have a flashback of Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes: “I’m older and I have more insurance! Bwaahaahaahaa!!!” as I slam into the back of his beautiful, unmarred, expensive car in the battered, beat-up Blue Bomb II.
But I find myself doing the opposite. I slam on the brakes instead, causing all the fragile items on the front seat to crash to the floor. The contents of my purse spill out and roll along the floorboard.
As I lift my hands up toward the driver looking in his rearview mirror for my response, I find them heading to my mouth.
And I start blowing him kisses.
I know it’s insane. I know I’m losing it again. But then I start laughing so hard I almost cry.
It drives Mr. Mercedes, glaring at me in his mirror, absolutely crazy.
He exaggerates the original gesture, almost pounding his roof with his fat finger.
And that makes me laugh even harder, until I do cry.
I think, Darlin’, you don’t even know what trouble is.
And then the action turns into emotion.
I feel so sorry for him. He has no clue what the future holds, when every one of us is eventually humbled. He doesn’t realize that one day he will have much larger problems than a grandma turning in front of him when he’s in a hurry.
So I let him think he wins. After the next light, he roars off to tailgate the next victim.
Soberly, I catch my breath. Deep breathe to slow down the accelerated heart. Have an attitude adjustment. I think about things having to do with turning the other cheek and heaping burning coals on someone’s head.
And then I go pick up my favorite little guy and head for cool waters.
Does anyone else ever struggle with road rage? Do you think it is difficult to handle it in ways that reflect your world-view? Anyone have any stories to share?
* Blue Bomb I, a story for another day
**This was determined only after meticulous research