Quiet Desperation

Apparently this road was paved with good intentions


Harry and I went for a Sunday drive.

Only I made a big mistake. I forgot to put the “Sunday Drive” sign in the window that lets everyone know we’re on the road for leisure, not for the rat race.

I apologized to the dog and told him to fasten his seat belt.

Sure enough, before I could get to the corner we were followed too closely by someone who was in a hurry.

Undoubtedly in a hurry to get somewhere and start tweeting and texting.

The Bangles and I used to look forward to Sundays.

The Bangles, an all-woman group, considered Sunday their “fun day.”

(“Manic Monday” was written by Prince. Prince had a crush on Bangles lead singer Susanna Hoffs. Who didn’t? However, the song was originally intended for another group. For some reason, “Manic Monday” was credited to Prince’s pseudonym: “Christopher.”)

Sundays will never be the same. Not the way they were. At least not here in the city.

Maybe on the eastern plains, Sundays are slower than the rest of the week.

Not around here.

I drive the limit, maybe five over. It’s not enough. I’m holding everyone up.

“Get out of the way, you plodder, you slowcoach, you malingerer. Your mother was a hamster.”

Maybe I don’t have the right kind of vehicle. All I have now is this station wagon. No one respects station wagons.

Station wagons plod because they’re family cars and dad doesn’t want to endanger his wife and kids.

Except I don’t have a wife and kids; I have large paintings that need to be moved from place to place.

But the perception is the same: You can and should tailgate a station wagon.

What I’d like to have is an Aston-Martin DB5 that spews oil and carpet tacks.

Harry and I were tailgated five times between home and Elizabeth where I thought we’d be rid of the problem.

Surely in Elizabeth on a Sunday the roads are benign. I was wrong.

A red pickup honked at us.

“Move it on over, you bootless fustilarian.”

Steven Spielberg’s first film was a dandy titled “Duel.” It starred Dennis Weaver as a businessman who is driving his Plymouth Valiant in Southern California on the way to see a client.

Weaver’s antagonist is the unseen driver of an old Peterbilt 281 that chases him up and down the remote highway.

There’s very little dialogue and none between Weaver and his adversary.

Weaver looks like he’s done for but (spoiler alert) manages to outsmart the trucker.

The beautifully choreographed final scene, when the truck in flames goes off a cliff, features the exasperated groans not of the truck driver but of the truck.

I’m not an advocate of road rage. It’s tempting, but you never know who is in the car behind you.

It might be Satan and Satan might be having a particularly bad day.

As cars pass us, the drivers usually look at me with disdain and generally with sneers.

When I was a kid, the Smiths often went for a Sunday afternoon drive. We were a one-car family and it — most often a Ford — was used primarily for commuting and errands, but not for leisure.

Perhaps the answer is to take an afternoon drive in the middle of the night.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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