Passion and the Prius


There were hundreds of cars on the highway tonight.  The road was sardined with them.  Headlights like lightning bugs.  They were all headed somewhere.  We were headed anywhere.  Anywhere that wasn't the same somewhere we'd grown so damned tired of after fourteen years.
      At night we head out of town.  We go to bars, pool halls, hotel lounges, local college campus watering holes that cater mostly to binge drinkers and date-rapists.  Anywhere that is able to boast that ever-elusive combination of a stiff drink and a low price.  When we arrive, we laugh it up and pretend that we're different people for a couple of hours.
      During the day, I'm an insurance salesman with a mortgage, two kids, and a hybrid car.  Never let it be said that I don't do my part to stem America's oil crisis.  I always recycle, I'm a member of the PTA, the Neighborhood Watch, not to mention the youngest member at my local chapter of the Elk's Club.
      At night, I'm a film-maker, a special education fundraiser, museum curator, lounge singer, the guy who blew the bugle at the Kentucky Derby for sixteen years, whatever I want to be.
      At the moment, I'm a professional wrestler.  Intercontinental champion of an independent league that barnstorms the Midwest doing impromptu shows at middle school gyms and local civic centers.  "See this scar on my forehead, darling?  That's right, steel chair.  Oh, my right cheek?  It was nothing.  Just a little incident with a 2x4.  You should see the other guy."
      Tonight my wife's a burlesque dancer with a checkered past and a two pack a day habit.  An immigrant from that far off land known as Des Moines.  "An aspiring actress and a burlesque dancer?  You don't say.  I love a woman with goals in life.  I don't meet many of them on the wrestling circuit.  Mostly just farm girls and muscle groupies."
      She laughed that big pretend-Bohemian laugh of hers and touched my leg flirtatiously.  It was the same laugh that she used just last weekend when she was a professional belly dancer from Morocco.  I didn't have the heart to tell her to try varying it from week to week.  It was little things like that abominable laugh that crippled the illusion for me.  I was quickly coming to resent her.  Even here.  Even in what was once a respite for us.  I returned her laughter with some of my own and dispatched the rest of my Jack and Coke.
      This charade was beginning to seem senseless.  It ended the same way every night.  Boy meets girl.  Girl laughs big fake Bohemian laugh.  Boy gets pie-eyed on Jack and Coke.  Boy and girl copulate in the backseat of Toyota Prius.  In the end, it never matters who we're pretending to be.  We're still George and Joanie Lindenmuller.  1727 Oakridge Circle.  Parents to Seth and Emma Claire.
      In just a few hours we will return home, pay the babysitter, and read our bestsellers before falling asleep.  Domesticity reigns supreme.  
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