"One recognizes one's course by discovering the paths that stray from it." Albert Camus
Tech Support Guy and I were out in redneck country the other evening, on our weekly trek to get fresh eggs from a lady who raises chickens in her suburban back yard. Tech Support Guy was driving, and I was riding shotgun. While we were stopped at a red light, a red pickup truck pulled up in the lane to our left. From my seat, looking out the driver’s side window, all I could see was a ginormous right front tire: large, bumpy, and - because the truck was jacked up so high - an obscene amount of muddy undercarriage, looking a little like dirty underpants glimpsed beneath a bright red dress.
Flashback: Years ago, when out with our then teenage daughter, we parked at a restaurant in Pasadena. The same type of vehicle parked next to us: a pickup truck painted in a bright primary color, oversize tires, heavy-duty suspension and whatnot, and raised so high off the ground that you would risk a nosebleed getting into the cab. As we passed this monstrosity on our way to the restaurant, the driver climbed down. Our daughter said, as we passed him, sort of under her breath, but actually loud enough for him to hear, “Dude! Sorry about your penis.”
Since that day, it has been a sort of family sign language/shorthand, upon encountering obvious manifestations of monumental overcompensation, to gesture with thumb and forefinger spaced an inch apart and to say “TLP” which stands, of course, for tiny little boy parts.
Back to our red-light. Tech Support Guy glanced over at the pickup truck, turned slowly to me and gave the TLP sign.
Me: “I’d love you so much more if only you were more of a real man. Like TLP there.”
TSG’s reply was interrupted as the light turned green, and TLP gunned his truck through the intersection and up the hill, probably consuming a half gallon of gas. Nobody saw that coming.
TSG: (choking on TLP’s exhaust and easing our politically correct Prius through the intersection) “Yeah, baby, I hear you. And if only you wore your clothes two sizes too small, dyed your hair with Clorox, and chewed sugarless bubblegum, we’d both be much more satisfied with life in general.”
Me: (Hopeless, wordless, shoulder shrug, conveying my world-weary acceptance of the crushingly dull lives our vehicle bespeaks, as well as the failure of so many of my own dreams and ambitions, like never learning how to crush a beer can on my forehead.)
TSG: “But, we each play the hand we draw, you know?”
Me: “Boy, howdy.”