A few days ago, the kids and I were driving along the main strip on our way somewhere (yeah, that’s right; here in boonieville a multi-lane road with lots of stoplights that spans from HEAH to THEAH is the main strip) when someone honked near us. At us? I wasn’t sure.
I turned to look and there was a white Honda Civic coming up from the rear, on our left. I didn’t recognize the car. It was still a couple of car lengths back, so I couldn’t get a good look at the driver, other than to see that he was an older man wearing glasses. Hmmm. Maybe he hadn’t been honking at me. I faced forward again.
*HOOOOOOONK* as the car edged its way even with us. Now the driver was waving frantically AT ME.
I still didn’t recognize the driver. For a split second I thought I’d placed him–he looked an awful lot like someone I vaguely know from church–and in that second I raised my hand in return greeting. Then I forced my hand back down, mid-wave, when I realized that this wasn’t the guy I thought he was. He wasn’t anyone I knew. But he grinned and waved and fairly bounced in his seat.
So that was… odd. I faced forward again, hands clamped on the steering wheel, feeling unnerved. Well, I would do the normal, polite thing New Englanders do when faced with the ministrations of a fellow driver: I would pretend I didn’t see him. That would work.
Except that it didn’t work, for three reasons. First, I’d already acknowledged seeing him, which rather puts a crimp in that whole “nope can’t see you, you must be invisible” tactic. Second, this man–I’ll call him Ed; not because that’s his name but because he was a very Exuberant Driver (ED) and he seemed like the sort of guy who might actually be named Ed–proceeded to play cat-and-mouse with us for the next FIVE MILES. And third… I found myself giggling.
The kids had missed the initial honking and waving. I drive, and they play “which one of us can make the other one cry out in agony first, preferably without any physical contact?” They’re oblivious to what I’m doing, is my point. But I started giggling, and suddenly both kids wanted to know what was so funny. So there I am, eyes fixed on the road straight ahead, trying to explain to them that there is someone honking and waving at us but I don’t know him, and it’s sort of funny, and NO STOP LOOKING AT HIM….
Too late. Now Monkey’s entire face was plastered to the window (no doubt giving all who passed a stunning view of his nasal passages) as he tried to track our pursuer, and Chickadee was leaning this way and that, craning her neck, and POINTING every time our buddy Ed came into view. I would manage to pull ahead of him, and he would start honking again, then continue his pursuit. As soon as he neared, he’d start waving around a two-fingered victory sign at us. He was clearly delighted that the children had taken notice.
Now I had two choices. Figure out who this man was, and/or why he seemed so intent on getting our attention, or commence being completely skeeved out.
As I muttered to the kids through stifled laughter and clenched teeth that they should stop looking and please go back to torturing each other, I opted to explore the first avenue. Well, I’d stolen quite a few looks by now, and it was clear to me that I didn’t know Ed, or at least, didn’t remember him at all if I did know him. Furthermore, the way he was behaving made me fairly glad that I didn’t know him. That left figuring out why he felt this desperate need to get our attention.
Okay… quick checklist. Could I have left the gasoline door open? Maybe, but he kept coming up on the left, and my gas tank is on the right. Not that. Could I have left something on top of the car? A soda, my purse, a baby? My drink and purse were accounted for, and despite all those early mommyhood nightmares about driving away with an infant carrier on the roof, I’d managed to get both kids into elementary school without it ever happening. Some sort of problem with my car? Well, it was driving fine. Unless that waggling V-for-victory symbol was actually some sort of New England gang gesture that means “Hey you’re driving an utterly unremarkable car,” I couldn’t think of any message about the car itself that he was trying to convey.
And I didn’t see anything that would indicate that he was from the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Prize Patrol.
Unravelling the mystery was proving impossible, and I was seriously considering succumbing to being skeeved out when we finally lost him. Maybe he turned, maybe I finally managed to move far enough ahead of him that he couldn’t catch up. Whatever it was, suddenly Ed was gone. Our adventure was over, and I still had no idea what it had been about.
Maybe Ed thought he knew me. Maybe he just drives around, randomly targetting people to honk and wave at. Maybe he had an important message about the meaning of life that he wanted to share with me, and I was too busy being paranoid to notice. Maybe he’s just a weirdo.
Or maybe I’ll never know, and I should clean the nose prints off the window and forget about it.