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2002-10-24 3:43 p.m.


The one thing I miss about being single is getting to ride in so many different cars. I realized this today as I was driving to a doctor's appointment.

I drove down a tree–lined suburban street where the houses sat silently—it was 1:45 PM, the inhabitants were all off populating cubicles and offices.

The car on the road in front of me was an early 90's Geo Metro sedan—the kind of car only available in colors so boring that you can't remember if they are brown or beige or purple or even dirty or clean. The Jesus fish on the back was broken; I counted four KRTY Hot Country radio station stickers on the window and bumper.

Two early 20–ish girls sat in the front, probably listening to the radio and smoking cigarettes, the passenger scooting her feet among the debris of papers and dessicated air fresheners and broken shells from long–since–lost mix cassettes.

They turned off and went another way—maybe to school or to buy smokes from the mini–market next to the Chinese manicure place.

Next in front of me was a white 1988 Honda CRX. The driver was another girl, probably about 24 years old. Her curly hair spiraled defiantly out from a plastic clip atop her head. I smiled at her failed attempt to maintain order over her dark, spiral curls like I smile at the ripples behind a duck swimming in a pond.

There were no stickers on her car, which it made it harder to imagine what it might smell like inside. Armor All? The faint smell of yesterday's sex mixed with stray french fries? Vanilla? Or, maybe one of the other generic smells of girl's car that I have cataloged in my brain?

Generic girl's car smells are smell immediately recognizable, but I can't describe them with words. They are definable only by the ideas of people and memories of moments which have long since dissolved like the morning fog—words can neither trigger these sorts of memories nor adequately bring form to their relevance.

The white Honda kept going forward; I turned right onto the freeway.

I used to ride in a lot of different cars. There were so many smells; such a variety of dangling things hanging from the rear–view mirrors. There were bumper stickers and window decals and things to be scooted from the seat to the floor and then back to the seat again. There were photos on the vanity mirrors and everything but gloves in the glove box. For a few minutes I missed the ever–shifting buffet of sights and sounds and smells found only in the kinds of cars women my age drove when I was their age and my life was very different.

But, today there existed only a dormant calm where the active urge to know or meet those drivers used to live. Some sense of nostalgia or longing for memories took the place of whatever it was that used to lure me into all those cars in the first place.

It was not for the women or their conversation or their touch that I longed today. All I wanted was to fiddle with the air conditioning and change the radio station and roll down the window and shuffle my feet on the floor of a car that I would ride in for a day or night or two, and then never see again.


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