Read this article in the local paper while at home today, which includes the line “youth groups are being brought in by the bus-loads”. It’s how things are around here.
“Would you rather live on this side or that one?” Andy gestures to the ranch-style homes in either direction off Highway 10.
“They both look pretty identical.”
“Come on! If you absolutely had to pick.”
Andy is always making up games to entertain himself, reeling with pleasure at having concocted yet another tame (and pointless) equivalent to The Trolley Problem. In a Macy’s yesterday, he stood in front of the row of display beds done up in an array tacky designs. Pondering the choices before him, arms crossed against his chest, he blurted out, “Now they’re all bad. I can see that. Not a good choice among them. But if you had to put one of them in your house, which one would it be?”
“I’d just go to another store and buy one from there.”
“Not an option,” he retorted swiftly. “It’s got to be one of these.”
He does this sort of thing with sample phones at Verizon Wireless, countries in Europe and hummus varieties at Whole Foods. It’s the kind of guy Andy is- every day needing to make a conscious decision.
Back on the highway I point to the houses on the left. “Well, I suppose that one then.” A green-brown pond on with a half-rotten wooden stepladder disappearing into it flashes past as we drive with the cruise control set at 72 miles an hour.
“Good choice. I would have gone with the right though. Nicer roofs on those houses. But then again, you do get the luxury of having some water to put your feet in, which always trumps a good ceiling.”
“Until you want to keep your head dry.”
He ignores me.
“Now tell me, what’s one aspiration you have?”
“You know, one thing you want to achieve in your life.”
“I know what the question means. I’m wondering why you ask.”
“Just want to know is all.”
I think for a minute.
“Happiness. Yeah, happiness I suppose.”
He lets out a huff of air equivalent to an eye roll, “Come on! Something original, woman.”
“I don’t know! I guess I want to steer a boat.”
Andy lights up at the topic.
“Are we talking speedboat- the type of thing you rip up and down a lake to feel some rumble beneath your balls or a paddle boat at the park on a quiet Sunday evening while the sun’s setting.”
“Sailing, hmm. Sailing.” He sticks his tongue into his bottom lip like he’s digging for dip in his gums but is really just searching for his angle on the topic. “Really? Well, that might make you sick you know. It’s rough on a stomach out there on the water.”
“I like the idea. Conquering something that makes you feel like blowing chunks at first.”
Andy smiles. He pushes back against his seat and I grip the steering wheel tighter.
“Well,” he waves his hand toward the front windshield, “there she is, captain. Your concrete sea.”
I relax into satisfaction with the present moment, feeling my stomach settle for the first time in days.
“Well god damn!” Andy belts. “Look at that huge ass cow statue next to the gas station! We are definitely pulling over to get our picture in front of that thing!”
He points over to a metal model of a cow standing over 20 feet high in front of a Subway/BP combination off a low profile interstate exit.
“Of course we fucking are! It’s not even a choice. Look at that beast!”
I put the signal on and start to make my way over to the next lane.
“America,” he laughs. “What a fucking weird place.”