We all take on a number of roles in our daily lives. Work, home, neighbor, family, friend, consumer, on and on; many hats sit atop our heads. Sometimes though, people really focus on one role, becoming heightened versions of themselves like some sort of parody of their cultural subset. I love when this happens. I think most people when they see me instantly judge me as a “dad.” Cargo shorts, slip on shoes, button up shirts with some sort of stain on the shoulder, heavy purple bags under my eyes, the whole mess. Of course, whenever people see me I am generally holding a baby too and the connection is pretty easy to make from there.
Today at a traffic light I was part of a four car group of over-the-top representations.
This tale is called: Reality TV
There’s an intersection in town that seems to, as the phrase goes, “the bees knees” in town. It is wildly popular and every morning, every lane heading every direction is packed bumper to bumper. For a town that shuts down at 9:00pm, it sure does enjoy mornings.
I found myself behind a burnt orange Honda sedan of some sort. We were slow moving, but with the red light awaiting us several hundred feet ahead, I did not really notice at the time. The driver wore what I will always refer to as a “newsies” cap. I thought for sure these things had a more proper title, and I was just referencing a Christian Bale musical that dominated so much of my childhood (and shaped a surprising number of my views on labor law), but in writing this very bit I found they are called “Newsboy Caps.” Click the link and see exploited child laborers smoking! Goodness history is depressing.
While the hat itself is no longer worn by children pushing “penny a pape” dailies, it does hearken back to an age perceived as a slower than our modern world. The driver certainly took this to heart as I would find out when the light turned green. The driver, presumably called Geoff (with a G of course), likes things slow and steady. His car has no bumper stickers or character. He bought it at a “Buy Here, Pay Here” car lot and he has calendar reminders set to tell him to schedule regular maintenance every three months. His mechanic loves the regular pay dates.
As we took our positions at the red light an older model Nissan Pathfinder pulled beside us and stopped next to the sedan. The gray Pathfinder’s back window was decked out in flower and turtle stickers. The driver is wearing a floral crown. At 7:00 in the morning. She is sitting in her car dancing to music unknown and has a crown of white flowers atop her head. When the light turned green she merged to the right lane and got ahead of the orange Honda. Her left arm was hanging out the driver side window and she let her hand ride along the wind. It was a mobile, pint-sized version of Coachella riding down the highway. At least she loves what she loves.
The third car in our little square made its presence known well before coming into view. Thumping bass shook my car. I had to look to the boys sitting quietly in their seats to make sure they were not too bothered by the noise. The car parked next to me. A smaller than small Honda Fit, black and scratched everywhere. It was like the Honda Fit went to pet a cat and the cat had other ideas. The driver wore a black t-shirt, black hat, black sunglasses. They boy was a timebomb (timebomb!). Hanging from the rear view mirror was a cross nearly too big to fit in the car. The lad sat leaning toward the empty passenger seat, left hand on the top of the wheel and he is singing along to his tunes. When the light turned green he rode the Pathfinder’s bumper until the girl merged over then he zipped away far above the speed limit.
As the three people around me were so wildly over-the-top, it dawned on me that they must be taking part in a low-budget Amazing Race situation. The free sprit, Katherine but goes by Kat, is a huge ratings draw for her dance-like-no-one-is-watching personality as she barrels down the road in her Pathfinder. Geoff is the ‘by the books’ guy who makes sure everyone has their maps ready at rest stops. The Honda Fit is driven by Ricky “DJ Palm Tree” Smith. He’s more of the resident bad boy the audience loves to hate. He’s currently the favorite to win the whole thing, which will make skyrocket the download count of his debut mix-tape on SoundCloud.
The show is set to wrap early next month to debut in time for the summer slump. Probably a fitting spot.
Thanks for reading!