Closing in on thirty
(from Suburban Misfits)
The bulge in my pocket isn’t because I’m glad to see either one of them.
The three of us hardly talk the way we used to in the old days.
We’re all closing in on 30 and still haven’t figured out what to do with our lives – except to know we don’t want to spend the rest of eternity driving around like this like we did at 17, searching for girls who’ll pay attention to us.
Of the tree of us, Hank alone still thinks of this as fun, aching to get back that feeling of camaraderie he claims we had when we drove.
He doesn’t understand the difference between happiness and mutual misery.
It is his idea to head to the shore in the dead of winter, as if he believes we can pick up girls there when the competition is less fierce.
Pauly doesn’t want to pick up girls, but goes along with the scheme because he’s tired of staying home alone and figures we’re better company than nobody, an opinion he alters the minute we hit the highway and has to listen to Hank’s ranting.
Putting the tape recorder in my pocket was an act of revenge for all those times Hank made me record conversations we had traveling here, there and nowhere. I think I might catch a few phrases I might use later to get even with Hank when ever he gets me angry at him – which he always does.
Pauly is most frustrated by the fact Hank won’t let him drive, and bitches about the route we take from the passenger seat.
“This might be scenic,” he says, “but I’ve scenic all before.”
He also claims that if we tie a rope to the back of Hank’s car, we would make the Budweiser Pretzel.
Some of these I even get on tape, though the bumpy road sends rattling sounds over four words so I know I won’t make out much later.
Outside, we pass houses with large lawns, part of a landscape I never saw before on my way to the short, the giggling Hank claiming he found a short cut that avoids the usual traffic jams. This prompts Pauly to point out that there are no traffic jams in Winter.
Unphased, Hank pushed on, me wonder if I’ll have enough tape for the whole trip with some much tape wasted on emptiness already.
The best parts usually come later when we are wearily making our way home.
Eventually, Hank finds a highway and we travel through a landscape full of fuel storage tanks and cargo cranes. Although we started early, darkness is already coming over us, so that we see the science fiction landscape glowing around us on every side.
I start thinking we are traveling in space not New Jersey and I’m a little scared about where we might land – how for all our wandering we never really considered exactly what we might find when we got to where we are going.
I keep thinking I want to go back, not just to Passaic, but to those days when we didn’t care so much, and that where we ended up was very often exactly where we started.
But now, closing in on 30, we really do need to go somewhere else.