Daniel, for example, is never the driver. He lives in Poncey Highlands and, I'm not kidding, won't even drive to Buckhead. Buckhead is totally outside the circle of things he can handle in his own car. If ever he needs to go to Buckhead -- which is kinda often since the Marcia Wood Gallery is there and she represents his artwork -- he'll call you and say something like, "I noticed your cupboards are getting low on cans of cake frosting."
So, in no time, you're itching go to Target, because the day might come when you have sex again, someday, and cake frosting could come in handy. That's when Daniel says, "I'd come with you but I have to be at Marcia's by 1 p.m. ... Wait! I got it! You can just drop me off! Really, it's no problem."
Grant caught onto this act early. After we met him, Daniel and I were only able to mooch rides off him for maybe two months before he bought that Miata and got himself a failsafe escape from ever having to chauffeur our lazy asses again.
"I don't have room," Grant would shrug, as if a Miata being a mere two-seater was a fact that just then fucking occurred to him. In the end, either I'd have to drive or, more often, we'd just not go. So, yeah, hate the Miata -- that fag-ass piece-of-shit car.
But since then, Grant has upgraded to the new VW Beetle convertible, and I myself have bought a PT Cruiser. Grant tells me the PT Cruiser is the preferred method of transport by four out of five lesbians everywhere (or at least lesbians in Decatur), and put a rainbow colored sticker on my bumper that says, "Family Car."
I prefer the bumper sticker he put on my old Honda years before. That one read, "Teenage Prostitute to the Stars." He'd made it himself using an old-fashioned bumper-sticker machine on loan from one of his friends. For months, Grant had been hearing me say that phrase to those whom I'd just been introduced, when eventually they'd get around to asking me what I did for a living.
"Teenage prostitute to the stars," I'd say. It's a good way to get people to stop asking you questions.
After that, I found the sticker on my bumper one morning and kept it. Sometimes I'd forget I had it there, and people would drive by me laughing, with their thumbs pointed skyward, and I'd wonder what they were so damn happy about. Then I'd get a little happy myself. You almost can't help it.
Grant got very good at bumper-sticker slogans. Every time he heard someone say something he considered wise, such as when an old folk artist once told us, "If you own too many things, they start to own you," Grant would gasp, and keep repeating what he'd heard until he got to the bumper-sticker machine.
Pretty soon he was just plucking every third word out of people's sentences to make his own meaning. Then it got to where he didn't need to hear anything but the voices in his own head to hear bumper-sticker wisdom:
"Religious People Fear Hell. Spiritual People Have Been There."
"God, Protect Me From Your Followers."
"Since I Gave Up Hope, I Feel So Much Better."
Then one day, Grant was done. He'd peppered almost everything within reach with his homemade bumper stickers, until the day his friend came to retrieve the machine -- and that was that. Today all those stickers are gone, as none of us own the same cars we had back then. Even Lary -- who used to drive a dilapidated, tetanus-infected BMW -- has a reliable truck these days.
And Daniel -- oh my God, Daniel -- has a recent-model four-door sedan of some kind. He still hates to be the driver. But at least he knows that when he has to go places, his car will get him where he needs to go.
That's all we can ask for, really -- the ability to get us where we need to go. Though sometimes you have to wonder whether sticking around is such a bad thing. For example, I almost never want to be where I am, even though, looking back, most of the places I've been aren't entirely that awful.
Maybe I should be better at going places, or at least noticing when I've arrived. But then I remember one of Grant's old bumper stickers, which reads, "I Know There's a Balance. I See it When I Swing Past," and I think, what the hell, none of us are really drivers anyway. We're all just passengers, looking at other people's bumpers, and the very best we can hope for is to pass by laughing and pointing our thumbs skyward, making everyone wonder what the hell we're so damn happy about.
Hollis Gillespie's commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered." To hear the latest, go to Moodswing at atlanta.creativeloafing.com.
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"I'm buying two Hummers."
Keep your sex life to yourself, buddy.