So this afternoon I was driving like a maniac on the way to get Handsome to his swimming lesson late (because that’s how I roll). I mentioned something to him about a car I had when I was a kid, actually explaining what a ‘brake stand’ is.
For those of you who may not know, it’s when you step on both the brake and gas at the same time, hard. This has the effect (you hope) of locking up the front wheels while allowing the rear wheels to move freely, spinning to their heart’s content.
This is in a rear-wheel drive car, obviously.
The rear wheels spin faster and faster, until friction heats them enough that they start to smoke. Then the crowd, always assuming there is a crowd, goes wild.
I told him it was stupid.
“It was stupid. It’s a stupid thing to do — bad for the tires, bad for the brakes, just bad for the car. But I thought it was cool because I was seventeen and stupid”
He laughed at that, the way I’d called myself stupid.
“Well I was. I was seventeen and stupid, just like you’re nine and stupid. It’s not a bad kind of stupid,” I hurried on, not wanting to hurt his feelings. “It’s a natural stupid. We’re all stupid, and eventually we see it. I think it’s something like five years. You can look back at yourself, at things you were doing at least five years earlier than from when you do the looking, and you see stuff that’s stupid. You’re nine, and you think you’re pretty smart. You are pretty smart. But five years down the line, when you’re fourteen or fifteen, you’ll look back on this time when you were nine and say ‘man, I was stupid’. Then, when you’re 19 or 20, that all-knowing 14 or 15 year older you used to be starts looking like a real moron!”
He was still laughing.
“And look at me! I’m 43! That means I look back and see 38 years of stupid back there! You want to know why I sometimes seem to get a little mad and go off on weird rants? ‘Cuz I was probably just thinking about something that happened in that 38 years of stupid I have built up back there. You have to look bacl to when you were practically a toddler to see the stupid in your life, but I can already see me as a stupid kid, stupid teen-ager, stupid adult… my God, I can look back and already see myself moving into stupid middle age!”
I looked at him, sitting in the seat beside me and trying not to catch my eye so I wouldn’t see him laughing at me.
As if I’d be unaware?
“You just wait until you’re my age, and you have 38 years of stupid staring you in the back. It’ll blow your mind. And then, I’ll be 76! I’ll be looking back at over 70 years of stupid! I’m gonna be a miserable old man! I mean, think about it… you know, the next time we see Big Grampy, my Grampy, and you look at him and think ‘wow, he’s all serious, not a lot of fun, I wonder why he doesn’t look that happy’, you just remember that he’s… I think he’s… 87? I think he’s 87 years old. You know what that means?”
He was laughing, but he managed to get it out.
“82 years of stupid?”
“82 years of stupid! Yes! You think that’s a lot of fun?”
I suddenly stopped and looked around the jeep.
“Why aren’t I writing this down? This could be a blog — why the heck aren’t I writing this down? I have a voice recorder — no, I have two voice recorders, in the car with us, but do I have either of them out and running? No.”
We drove on for a moment, then I asked: “And do you know why I don’t?”
Handsome took a chance.
I nodded. “Yup. Stupid. See, I could make some sort of excuse, but hanging out with you keeps me so young, I act at least five years younger than I really am. That allows me to see some of my current stupid right now.”
He sat there grinning at me.
“Stupid,” I muttered.
Talk to you later!