Friday, January 8, 2010

Road trippin', pt. 2

You're chomping on your third granola bar when we hit the I-80 W interchange. I turn my head over my right shoulder to check my blind spot before changing lanes and you kiss my cheek like you're throwing a dart at a board. You laugh and half-chewed granola spills everywhere, which, of course, makes you laugh more.

"If it wasn't 8 AM, I'd be a lot more embarrassed," you says. I bring my tea thermos to my lips and smile behind it. You turn her head straight back to the road but peer at me out of the corner of your eye. "Don't think I can't see you grinning."

I-15 N to I-80 W. Now we're on the right track.

"Where are we going?" she asks, flipping through a seven-month-old issue of People. "And why is this issue so old?"

"You'll see when we get there," I say. "And I packed that bag, like, six months ago."

"Six months?"

"Yeah."

"But we've only been together for five and a half."

"I know. I saw this trip coming from about day two, baby."

"You and your presumptions."

"If it's assumed," I say, "it's presumption. If it's predicted, it's accuracy." You slide your hand into mine and squeeze just enough for me to notice. I keep smiling.

We stop for gas and fast food in Wendover. The Nevada half, anyway. This place is such a socioeconomic anomaly. The Utah half of Wendover looks like the setting of a Mad Max movie: it's desolate, the buildings are all dilapidated, and I keep waiting for Tina Turner to show up and start yelling at Mel Gibson. The Nevada half, on the other hand--enriched by funding brought about by gambling taxes--almost looks like a rejected theme section of Disneyland. Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Economicpropserityland.

"I want to gamble," you say as we drift through the aisles of a mini-mart, your eyes ensnared by the nickel slots in the corner. "I've never gambled before." You put the box of Almond Roca and the block of cheese you were holding into my basket and wander over. I can't decide if I'm more surprised by your sudden desire to throw money away or that this mini-mart is upscale enough to regularly stock Almond Roca.

I keep peeking at supplies. Ritz crackers, a Butterfinger, some Dr. Pepper, teriyaki jerky. These are reliable. I glance into our basket and see my things and your things. What'd you get? V8, reduced fat Wheat Thins, a little brick of mozzarella. I might as well be eating cubes of Crisco dipped in straight corn syrup and you're maintaining a reasonable diet and I add it to the list of the reasons why we keep at these YouAndMeAndWeAreUs things.

I peer over the aisles and watch you pumping coins into a machine and pulling a lever and as soon as you do, it sounds like an air raid drill has just started.

Oh no, I think, maybe we really are in Thunderdome. Two man enter, one man leave.

But no: you've won! The clinking of falling nickels sounds like hard rain on a tin roof and your brown eyes flash like highbeams. After about six seconds of clinging clanging clinging clanging, you scrape what I imagine to be about $5 worth of grimy, gleaming change into your perfect hands and hold it up to the light, scattering sunshine like a disco ball. You drop it on the checkout counter and it scatters across the tile and onto the floor and you run over to me and I drop the basket on the ground and you leap into my arms.

"I WON, BABY!" you scream into my ear. "I GAMBLED AND I WON!" You kiss me hard and fast and nearly knock me over.

"You certainly did," I beam.

We pay for our things with all of your winnings and we scrounge together a few extra bucks from our respective pockets. We're back on the road. You sip at your tomato juice.

"So where are we going?"

"We're still pretty far away," I tell you.

"Then tell me!"

"Nope," I deflect. "Sorry, sweetheart. The surprise of where we're headed is part of the trip."

You fake a pouty frown and return to a smile and the Sherman Alexie novel you brought with us. I turn on Tom Waits' Closing Time--that one that we fell asleep to last week--and the instrumental title track comes on.

I make up lyrics for it in my head. My chorus revolves primarily around the word "sunshine."

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More to come.

1 comment:

emilyf said...

And you write this the day after I quit gambling at minimarts in Wendover.... ;) jk I enjoy this Road Trippin' series. I especially loved her kiss on your cheek. I always loved doing that.... well not on your cheek obviously..