“D’ya wanna go for a couple spins round the track this eve?”
This was the Geahead, calling from the kitchen window. The sun had just crested the horizon and the birds were singing. I was wrestling myself into the driver’s seat of my car, negotiating a gym bag, lunch bag, handbag, a mug of tea and a shelf of cold, peanut buttered toast clenched
between my lips. I wondered, what does he mean? Track? He doesn’t run…
“The race track silly.”
Hmmm, must have spotted my confusion. Too early for this.
Here’s the quandary [wife edits: oh, one of so many being married to the Gearhead]. This is an invitation; a good wife — [wife edits: am I a good wife or only the illusion of one? Question…for a later time] — would recognise this as the “reach out” the “share attempt” the “insert whatever marriage-help-lingo fits here” and answer positively, reassuringly, encouragingly. But adverbs aren’t for early risers. [wife edits: non-committal grunt. Or was that a groan?]
At the track it was hazy and hot. And loud. The engines of other cars roared, and the tires whined rounding the bends. I lowered my body down into the molded throne of a chair on the passenger side [wife edits: of yet another car I have never seen before – did we buy this? I’m like one of those 1950s valium moms when it comes to vehicle inventory. I’m sure there’s a related diagnosis. Autophobic? Carphasia? Mobilidiot?].
No interior in the car, no windows, save the windshield, simply a roll cage, and the metal vibrated all round making my teeth chatter. The heat from the engine and beneath the floor cooked the backs of my thighs, almost as bad as when someone holds a hairdryer to the same spot on your scalp for too long. Then the four-point harness needed to be done up – one needs a manservant for this part, impossible otherwise. Might even be titillating, under other circumstances, but not when your tits are smashed against your chest in something like an octopus vest. [wife edits: sucker!] The Gearhead got in the driver side, his cheeky grin squished inside his helmet. [wife edits: does this helmet make my face look fat?]
The Gearhead hit the gas and I was pinned to the seat. From force or fear or both? We screamed onto the track, taking advantage of a short gap between other drivers. I managed to swing with the turns and we made it round once. Then I could hear my heart beating. I gasped for breath. Deep draughts of air gulped down. There just wasn’t enough air in the universe for this. I looked ahead, concentrated on the far horizon, the striped red and white of the curbs coming at us fast, receding faster in my periphery. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I thought—and my inner voice sounded so calm, so rationale—Wow, you really have to trust your partner when you do something like this.
And then a different voice, an inner hysterical voice screeched: I don’t trust my partner!!!!!
“Let me out of the car!!!”
“What about one more round?”
“Get me out!!! Get me out!!! Get me ooooouuuutttttt!!!”
I couldn’t get the octopus harness off fast enough and I wrenched my ears pulling at the helmet and my t-shirt and pants were soaked with panic sweat. The asphalt felt golden beneath my feet. But ‘I don’t trust my partner’? It wheeled round my brain, sparkling electric, like those tweety Disney birds.
And life is full of ambiguities, rules broken, perceptions challenged.
A woodpecker stunned itself against the deck window. The Gearhead lifted its warm body and let it tremble in his palm. He stroked its head while it blinked. He dribbled water droplets the length of its beak. He sat, patiently waiting while it recovered. Then, it flew off high into the air.
No recipe this time folks. I’m thinking a bag of those humbug candies might be just the right fit instead.