I’m in the car driving home. I have four teenage boys in the car. They’re tired and the ride is long, so they’re draped over the seats and armrests, occupying even more of the car than they need. Long legs. Smelly socks.
Big Dimples is sitting alone in the third row of my SUV, the area we would call “the way back” of a station wagon when we were kids. I can’t hear most of what he says from back there, only that he keeps yelling up to the front to turn the music louder.
The Parkway is slow, but not crawling. Still, it feels like we’ve been in the car forever. Each of them has slept for a little while, but we’re close to home now, so they’re all eager and alert.
“Let’s play the wave game,” one of them says.
I imagine them standing up and sitting down the way people do in a stadium. I tell them I don’t want them standing in the car, but I quickly realize that’s not what they’re talking about. They’re talking about waving to people in other cars. The way you do when you’re five. And they begin.
This unnerves me; I feel like we’re going to get shot. There’s something about being in close proximity to Big Dimples that makes me feel like I’m living on the edge, and I feel that way now, even in my four thousand pound car.
The girls who are driving behind us look like they’re in college. They see Big Dimples and they smile and wave back. The boys are giddy. Big Dimples has his hand up by his ear – he’s asking them to call him.
The girls smile and shrug their shoulders. How can we call you when we don’t have your number, they appear to be saying. Big Dimples starts holding fingers up. Nine fingers. Seven fingers. He’s miming his phone number for them.
“She texted me!” he yells.
I attempt to intervene but it’s half-assed. I’m not sure yet if they’re doing anything wrong and I’m curious to see what happens. “That girl shouldn’t be texting while she’s driving!” I yell out.
The driver isn’t texting, someone informs me. The passenger is.
Big Dimples shares the conversation with the other boys, but I can’t hear most of what he says because the music is on, the air-conditioner is blowing. I’m trying to appear blasé, so I don’t want to ask him to repeat himself.
The other boys vacillate between awe and mockery. “They’re asking where we’re going,” Big Dimples says.
“Are you going to tell them your friend’s mom is driving us home from an amusement park?” one of the boys shoots back.
The boys learn that the girls are in college and that they’re on their way home. They don’t live nearby and they don’t know they’re texting with high school freshmen. By this time, Big Dimples has stored their number in his phone, probably labeled as Girls On Parkway.
The girls pull out from behind us and start to pass me on the left. I’m sure they want to see who’s driving. I shield my face as they drive by, embarrassed by what I’ve just witnessed.
“This how Big Dimples is going to meet his first wife,” says one of the boys.
I sneak a peek at the girls before they drive off and they’re smiling – giggling – and a part of me thinks he’s probably right.