The three girls were still chattering in the back seat when Dad called. On the beltway, traffic slowed, stopped, and surrendered to inertia. Dudes volleyed footballs between station wagons. A band of wandering gypsies built makeshift hovels from the roof of an abandoned Prius; tires were piled and set alight for warmth. Slipping Mom’s Expedition behind a ransacked Hostess truck, I nearly missed the phone call: my ring tone the ultimate loser in a three-way battle between the radio and the three preteens in the backseat.
“Hey bud,” Dad chimed over the speaker. “How ya doing?”
“We just finished discussing the niceties of shaving our legs.”
Silence on the other end. The girls giggled behind me.
“I-I’m . . . um, fairly unsure how to response to that.”
“You owe me money.” End call.
Kevin’s JV rugby team was slated to play their first game this evening against a rival Catholic school. The girls, eager to visit the all-boy campus, hitched a ride as I made my way across town to pick him up. Conversation turned toward Logan Lerman from the Percy Jackson movie and failing science grades before returning to unsightly hair follicles.
“So do you ever like . . . consider waxing or Nad’s”
“Before or after a party?”
“Does it matter?”
“Depends on what I’m wearing. Jeans: No. Shorts or skirt: yes.”
“My Mom sometimes waxes her lips. And then yesterday, she let me watch her bikini wax.”
“Ewwwwww . . .”
Soon after I lost all sense of reality. A Honda several miles ahead shook itself loose from the overgrowth. The other drivers relinquished their mud flap homes and returned to the safety of leather interiors and power-steering. My Expedition rolled once again over the abandoned camps — the Shantytowns of overturned Saturns, earth sheltered Mustangs, greasy hubcap-lined pueblos — and off the highest bridge I could find.
“Oh, Kathleen,” my sister crooned as the car plummeted to the ground, “did you hear I going a date next weekend? So can I borrow your red dress? The cute one without the straps?”
Total blackout. Robbed by the gypsy Ford-hordes, we were left unconscious and bleeding for twelve whole minutes. And then . . . ah, pure exquisite silence.