Having overslept, I ran from the house with wet hair, threw my bags in the car, and sped down the driveway. It was 7:04 a.m.—ten minutes later than I usually leave. Getting to work on time was possible, but it wouldn’t be easy.
I had high hopes that I’d make it, until an exceedingly law-abiding driver pulled in front of me and then traveled not even a hair over the speed limit for an excruciating two miles. As I trailed behind her, I screamed, “I hope you die and worms crawl out of your eye sockets!” As she turned off the road, I added, “My mother’s a grandma and she doesn’t drive like your slow ass!”
It occurred to me that I might have an anger problem. But I didn’t have time to worry about that. The 15 mph drop in speed would cost me.
There would be no NPR today. I would need to provide my own soundtrack for maximum inspiration.
I began humming the theme from “Mission Impossible,” but as I merged onto the highway and positioned myself in the fast lane, I realized I needed something with more punch. I half-shouted, white-knuckling the steering wheel:
She’s going the dis-tance!
She’s going for speed!
It was difficult to choose between the lyrics “racing and pacing and plotting the course; fighting and biting and riding on her horse” and the beguiling WEE EE WEE EE WEE EE WEE EE EE EE EE EE EEEEEE of the synthesizer in the background, so I had to alternate. Sure, it would have been ideal to have both, but I knew from my years of experience as a car vocalist that it was impossible. I might be an aggressive driver sometimes, but I’m not a goddamn fool.
When necessary, I paused to speak aloud justifications for my driving, like “I know you’re not supposed to pass on the right, but I’m doing it just this one time because fuck you.”
As I relaxed into a comfortable cruise in the fast lane, I fantasized about the moment I’d barrel into the school parking lot, hopefully not mowing down any students. I could taste the triumph I’d feel in a short 5-10 minutes. I believe I can fly! I sang, because much like Bill Cosby’s Pudding Pops, R. Kelly’s classics can’t be sullied even by sex crimes. I believe I can touch the sky! Think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away!
I passed exit 76. One more exit to go. And now the modulation, when the song goes up a half key and the gospel choir joins in:
[Eighth rest]/I CAN FLY!
I was almost weeping. My feelings could best be expressed by the theme from the 1988 Summer Olympics, sung by the one and only Whitney Houston:
I want one
moment in time
when I’m more than I thought I could be
and all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
and the answers are all up to me
I sailed down the exit ramp, belting I will be free! I will! I will be freeeeee! I was temporarily hung up by a stoplight, which I expertly used to apply the minimal amount of makeup necessary to prevent me from looking like a corpse. (I’m aware that corpses tend to be heavily made up for funereal presentation or whatnot. To be clear, I’m talking about a pre-mortician corpse. Come to think of it, I’ll bet a mortician would do a great job with my makeup. I wonder if any of them do consulting.) And now, the home stretch! The parking lot was within view!
It was a tense few minutes as I waited to turn into the school. Just as I was about to coast on in, the green arrow had the nerve to turn yellow. Are you kidding me? I gripped the steering wheel and shrieked, “I wait for NO MAN!” as I lurched forward through the light.
The front doors had been opened, and a few kids were already at their lockers, but I was able to burst into my classroom before any of the students. I then yelled “BOOM!” and proceeded to my desk while making a series of “raise the roof” hand motions.
I relate all this in case you were in the school parking lot this morning and wondered why I had a victorious air about me when I stepped out of my car. I was imagining that I’d won some sort of cup. To be fair, it was probably just a participation cup, considering all the other teachers were already there.
I have only one regret—that I didn’t think to call upon the Pokémon theme song during my race with destiny. It’s an omission I can only chalk up to still being half asleep. This is the second time this fine musical specimen has been shafted. While it did serve me admirably on a 5K once, sadly, it never got to the chance to perform on my childbirth soundtrack due to the premature rupture of membranes and emergency C-section. Well, it’s my son’s own fault he didn’t get to arrive into this world to It’s you and me/You know it’s my destiny/Oh, you’re my best friend/I’ll love you ‘til the end, and he’ll have to live with that for the rest of his life.
In conclusion, please know that I do not condone aggressive driving, ever, unless you’re late for work and everyone around you is a fucking idiot.
In that case, have at it, champ. Go the distance.