One thing he loved was being asked to get in the car and go for a drive, with no destination in mind, just following the breeze. Navigational suggestions and tweaks along the way were welcomed, especially at the last second. He was an expert in her directions and instinctively knew things, like when right FEELS left, and when LEFT is actually the ‘other left’. He was one of the few who could sympathize that directions seem to change, to flip, to get turned around. Someone once told him to ‘hang a shit hook’ and he knew what to do. He knew that ‘go up till we hit the light’ didn’t necessarily mean fly upward like a rocket toward the sun. Although it could. He even understood what ‘Go RIGHT RIGHT here’ meant.
Their narration of the trip was a colourful addition to the journey. Reading signs aloud with wonder and deep meaning really brought the trip to life. Pursed lips and sage shake of the head. “One Hour Martinizing. Martinizing…Hmmm…”, or “Hospital Next Right…Yep. The Ol’ Hospital. Mmmhmm…” Never once did they sense irony in being named after cheeses. Yet it was especially great to remember that Wal-Mart used to be an empty field. But first it was a Woolco. Colby’s mind was agape with wonder as it cast back to those salad days when scraps of discoloured newspaper blew up against the sagging snow fence.
Quick stop for fancy tea and then, it was decided, one more stop to get a type of sandwich that can never be constructed, recreated or imagined except at a distant bistro miles down a congested road in the heart of town. This was deemed totally alluring, even though it was where people named Edna are known to lay down on the boiling pavement to hold a parking stall for husband Irv, who’ll be along as soon as he manoeuvres the RV through the alley.
His head tilted, but only the tiniest fraction, as she expressed inexplicable surprise about the temperature, the smell, the noise, the brightness of the sun, that lady’s pant-suit, the long line-up, and the puzzling inconvenience of all this; he told her he’d just orbit the block several dozen times, picking his way through Byzantine one-way streets that would defeat trained laboratory rats. It was his pleasure. He gaped at tricyclists, random street jugglers, geriatrics with walkers, gangs of unruly, shirtless, tattooed youth, deeply disoriented pamphlet-clutching tourists with ghastly matching outfits, and a homeless eccentric with an ancient Schwinn coaster bike covered in antique hubcaps, all vying for crosswalk space. Today’s special feature was the Edna-of-the-Day, in a folding chair, jaw jutting-out defensively, perched pugnaciously in the middle of a parking stall. She was shading herself irritably with a dollar store parasol & carving out a spot for her very own Irv, who would, it was generally understood, be along shortly.
Now the enjoyment really began because next stop was a beach. A lovely cheek-by-jowl crowded beach lined with signs prohibiting nearly every human activity, and with pay parking if you could find it. He accepted pay-parking at a beach; it was comforting in a Costco sort of way, museum diorama organic, munificently bureaucratic, righteously miserly & rigidly timed. On Twitter he’d heard about a queue to put Loonies in the machine that would permit people to hug a tree, too. Nature as administered by people in offices, the way Nature itself intended.
They were far away from boring things like Pubs and wireless signal, thank God. Now they went for a ‘long walk on the beach’. Their favourite thing, he was told. At the halfway point there was a perfect juncture where they could start discussing feelings and parts of his personality that need work. They discreetly waltzed around the fact that she freely married him keenly aware that he was a disappointing asshole. They agreed he was a ‘work in progress’. He appreciated the candour & sacrifice on his behalf. But apparently the beach was just too windy so they went back.
Turns out, the car was also too stuffy. And they lived happily ever after.