I’m going to tell you a secret, but you need to promise you won’t tell my wife and sons: I ate something in my car.
OK, I wasn’t actually “eating,” unless you call drinking a milkshake “eating,” but I still broke one of my self-imposed family rules: You shalt not eat in the car.
My wife says I have a lot of arbitrary, unwritten rules. I don’t agree, but she says she’s better at keeping track of stuff like that. And stuff like that tends to accumulate over the years, doesn’t it?
It’s not like I set out to break the rule. There was just something about the hot summer day that made it happen.
I went to Sonic to get a gallon of unsweetened iced tea for the office refrigerator, and when I pulled into the shady, breezy parking spot and crackled my order through the intercom, I decided I deserved a strawberry cheesecake shake to drink at home, too.
When the shake arrived at the precise moment a song from the rock group Boston’s only decent album began playing on the car radio, I decided instead to sit there and slurp on the shake and listen to the song.
And then the next good song came on, and the next one, and the next one.
As the breeze blew through the open car windows, the procession of songs took me back to when I was young and seemingly without responsibility and could sit in my car and listen to the radio for as long as I wanted, and no one would notice or miss me.
There were no dependents at home. There was no mortgage. My old AMC Javelin two-door was paid for, and the money I earned working part-time at a grocery store sacking groceries and stocking shelves in a red apron and white shirt and clip-on bowtie paid for everything else. Golf. Bowling. Cinnamon rolls. Pizza. Mountain Dew.
Back then, I wouldn’t have said I had it made. Looking back now, I could certainly make that case.
The poet John Donne wrote that “no man is an island, entire of itself; each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main … each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
This was one of those days when I wished I wasn’t connected to everyone, or anyone. This was one of those days I wished I could just be the island.
That day won’t be today, though.
My shake is gone, except for some whipped cream that has more cholesterol than I’m supposed to eat. It’s time to head back to real life.
“Where were you?” my wife asked a few seconds after I walked back in the door at home. She wasn’t scolding or worried, just making conversation.
She knew where I had gone. She didn’t know where I had been, though, or why.
No matter. I’m back now. And I won’t be eating in the car again anytime soon.