This is, perhaps, one of those things I shouldn’t really be proud of. It should certainly be one of those things I SHOULDN’T write about on the internet. But as you know, I just can’t help it. I do embarrassing or dumb shit and immediately think, “Ooh, I need to tell the internet all about this.”
Dave and I drove into Portland over the weekend. We took my less preferred route, which is highway 30. Dave likes highway 30 because “there’s more to look at.” I prefer highway 26, because there are fewer towns and stops, usually less traffic, and more hills and curves. It’s also the road that makes Dave a bit more queasy.
The drive from Astoria to Portland is 100 miles. For most of that 100 miles, you can go freeway speeds. As we drove in Saturday morning, we slowed down to go through my least favorite stretches of highway 30, through Scappoose. The road is the main artery through town, with businesses on either side, lots more traffic, and many more intersections and stop lights.
On this particular drive, I seemed to hit every yellow light in Scappoose. Yellow lights piss me off infinitely more than red lights. Red lights exist before I arrive, which is to say, they could have lasted for 10 years before I pull up and I wouldn’t care. But a yellow light is a reminder of missed opportunities. A yellow light snatches away your freedoms. And a string of yellow lights on an unpleasant stretch of road is the quite possibly the best way to make me insane.
I slowed down to stop at yet another yellow light and I grumbled in frustration. Dave wordlessly patted my knee, knowing full well it was a hellish torture for me. As the light turned green, a mid-nineties Jetta with aggressive graphics and a snapping, barky exhaust jumped from the lane beside me and raced ahead. It was one of those piece-of-shit cars that a kid spends his time fixing up, attempting to make it look bad ass. But it was sort of old, and the fiberglass body pieces were starting to sag and fade. And it was covered with obnoxious and profane bumper stickers.
Of course, the next intersection was a yellow light, so I pulled up beside this Jetta again. I once had a mid-nineties Jetta like this myself, except his was a 6 cylinder. I took a sideways glance at this guy. The kid driving was certainly less that 20 years old. Maybe he was still in high school. His hat was tilted ever so lightly to one side. He looked like a punk. He was certainly proud of his car. Scappoose was probably his town. Highway 30 was probably his road. This was his turf.
“This kid wants to race,” I said to Dave.
“You going to school him?”
“No, I shouldn’t,” I muttered.
I have a quick car. It’s really not speedy off the line. It has notorious turbo lag that doesn’t kick in until 3000 rpms. But still. My car has 227 horsepower and a turbo. And it is straight factory stock. I know there is a lot of tinkering I can do to my car to squeeze more horsepower out of it. But why would I do that? I’m nearly 40 years old, I’m a woman, and I don’t have the disposable income to turn my car into a roadster. Plus, I have some goddamned dignity.
The light turned green. The Jetta’s exhaust sparked and popped, and it jumped from the intersection. I floored the gas and my car bucked and roared. Dave giggled nervously and hung on. I passed the Jetta before I shifted to second gear. By the time I got up to the speed limit, the Jetta was way behind, with all the grandmas. I casually signaled and switched to his lane in front of him. It was too stupid easy.
So, I don’t normally hit the road and race teenagers. It’s a stupid thing to do. It’s a stupid, macho, reckless, immature thing to do. I see other people race their cars in traffic and I ponder, “Wow, what dummies.”
But I think all this knowing that if I wanted to, I could hand out a schooling. I like to think I learned that kid in Scappoose a lesson. That lesson was…
Pipe down, son.