When you drive across the country with a friend, there's always a chance that, at some point, you'll hear that voice. You know the voice. It's the one that tells you that you've made a big mistake. You usually hear it a day or two into the trip, when just enough time has passed for the initial thrill to fade away and reality to settle in. That's when the voice creeps into your head:
"Look, I know you don't want to hear this, but the truth of the matter is that you have to travel a thousand miles with this person, and he's already kinda annoying you. In fact, you practically hate him. I mean just look at him. Look how stupid his face is. How badly do you want to punch that stupid face? A lot, right? Well imagine how much more you'll want to punch it after another two days of this. You've made a big mistake."
For the first twenty hours after we had escaped the sprawl I was completely lost in the thrill of what we were doing. I didn't have a care in the world.
But then it faded away like it always does. And I realized that if I was going to hear the voice on this trip it would be during this stretch of time, when LA was behind us and Austin was still days away. Nothing to look forward to in the near future except each others company. This seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
It's not that I disliked Shorty, we're good friends. But when you're a loud, outspoken guy who thinks he's always right, and you spend countless hours with another loud, outspoken guy who thinks he's always right, it's probably not going to end well.
Why, you may be asking yourself, did we decide to take a road trip by ourselves in the first place? Well, it wasn't suppose to be just us. We were supposed to be a group of four. But on the very day of departure, the other two ran up to our car as we came to pick them up and yelled:
"Just kidding! We're not going!" And then ran away like giggling school girls. Like little fat, double-chinned, sniveling school girls who knew nothing of honor or what it took to be a hero...
So anyways, that's how it came to be just the two of us.
I suppose the biggest difference between the two of us is that Shorty is a cautious person, and I'm not. I tend to act on impulse while he plans things out meticulously. I like to take chances, he prefers to play it safe. Which is why he had a whole itinerary for the trip written down weeks in advance, and I had never even bothered to read it. What was the fun of going on a road trip if you knew what was going to happen?
But the biggest problem for us, as I saw it, was that I could be very absented minded at times, and he had a tendency of talking down to people when he was frustrated with them. And what's worse is that when someone talks down to me, I become blind with anger.
We were close to the New Mexico border when Shorty started looking anxious.
"Hand me the map." He said.
"What?" I asked.
"Hand me the map, dude. I think our turn is coming up."
I hadn't remembered seeing the map in awhile and was pretty sure he was the last one to have it. I looked for it anyways, but to no avail.
"I don't have it." I told him.
"Are you sure?" He responded in a condescending tone.
"Yes, I'm sure." I said with just a hint of anger.
"Well, I don't know where else it could be. You had it last..."
"No I didn't."
"Yes you did. Trust me."
Trust him? Trust him to know me better than I know myself? I felt the rage building up.
I heard the voice speak.
"Look, I know you don't want to hear this." It began.
Here we go, I thought.
"But," It continued. "you had the map last, you're probably sitting on it."
. That's not what the voice usually says, I thought.
But I checked. Without letting Shorty see, I slid a hand under my leg and to my horror I felt the map.
"Give him the map." The voice said. "Admit your fault."
" I can't. He'll never let me live it down."
"Maybe so. But you'll only make it worse if you don't do the right thing now. In fact you'll be doomed! Doomed I tell you!"
And then the voice laughed maniacally, which confused me.
Anyways, I gave the map to Shorty and for a moment it looked like he was going to say something harsh. But he didn't. Instead we both laughed and the tension melted away.
It was at this point that I knew we had made it through the second biggest hurdle of the trip to date. Sure, getting out of the sprawl was no easy feat, but to have both parties act mature enough not to make each other miserable, that was a great sign for our trip. Sure we still had a long ways to go, but again, I felt this was a good sign.
As if to prove my point, about twenty minutes later the landscape changed to this:
"No, I must have missed it."I said, before asking: "So what tricks do you have up your sleeves for Texas?"
"Eh, nothing. Texas is just a barren wasteland no matter where you drive."
"Except of course, for Austin." He added.
"Hell ya." I said. "We'll just zip through the rest of Texas as fast as possible, like it ain't no thang."
"Oh God no," He said. "we can't do that. I researched this dude, you don't speed in Texas. They'll always get you. Nobody speeds in Texas."
"I'm sure there are people who-"
"No dude. I've researched this. I know. Trust me."
I sighed. Alright Shorty, we'll do it your way. I trust you.
COMING TOMORROW: AUSTIN, TEXAS