The Hat Man on Interstate-5

Near our first night’s destination, we stopped to fill the propane tank just in case it was low–coffee to make and a furnace to run in case the temps actually drop below 75 deg F and 92% humidity!   This has been weird and unseasonable weather for us, not to speak of extremely uncomfortable.   Turns out we needed 4.7 gallons for our 5-gallon tank and would have risked not having coffee in the morning!  Yikes!

The high humidity enmeshed in the strands of heat reminds me of one summer in Toronto when a nasty inversion trapped pollution along with the stifling, thick air.

Mom made an executive decision to remove the three kids from that muck, leaving Dad to go to work as usual.    She gathered us and tons of gear into our almost-new 1970 Chrysler Town and Country station wagon and headed way, way outta Dodge to Algonquin Park where the four of us would sleep in a tent and paddle a canoe on the lake.

Did older Bruddah catch a fish?  Did little Sistah abhor the messiness of camping?  Bruddah and I took a canoe and paddled and paddled in that brilliant sun blinking off the lake, sure we could get to the other side, wherever that was.  We didn’t get there and had to turn back, perhaps a little worn out by the excited intensity of the outward-bound trip.

In those years, Mom was still only a mother, assumed as the parental presence without personality, without intricacies, without feelings and thoughts, so I didn’t know very much about what she wanted out of that trip or if she got relief herself from that suffocating weather.  Now that I am older than she was then, I can muse empathetically about Mom’s own need to get out of Dodge.  Did her claustrophobia get battered by that choking air, fueling the drive to flee to cooler air?

We all relaxed into the lake-fed cooler air, along with many other families on their summer vacations or who also were escaping the confined heat of the big city.

Back to the road trip here in present day.

Now, moving off with propane fueled and the tank stored again in its cubby in the side of the camper and Calpurrnia stored inside the camper instead of under the front seat.  It was only 10 miles to the state park within sight of Mt. St. Helens, the volcanic peak that erupted enthusiastically in 1980, blowing off part of its top and sending mudflow and ash every which way.  I was finishing college in Tucson then, but it was big news that we followed with alarm.

As we pulled onto Interstate-5 with the roar of 8 cylinders powering a workhorse engine, we heard a car horn tootling, but couldn’t figure out what we could have done wrong on our entry to the highway.  As we accelerated to highway speed, the Big Mister saw something startling in his side view mirror:  A car behind us stopped on the onramp and a passenger leaned out and picked something up.  I actually wondered aloud if it could be a gun.  He didn’t refute my outrageous, paranoid thought.

Big Mister kept watching the driver’s side rearview mirror and suddenly there was a car in the left lane keeping pace with us.   In the passenger seat, a young man was grinning crazily at us, his hat tipped over one eye, the highway speeds blowing the apparent wind in his face, and the southwest cant of the sun lighting up the dense tattoos along his arms.   The driver was grinning at us, too.

Then I said it–they’re going to shoot us, aren’t they?

There are cultural etiquette and personal space expectations for the freeway, so his crazy grin and the neck-and-neck travel at 60 mph was assaulting those expectations and suggesting strongly the ire of road rage piqued by some slight back at the onramp when we’d heard that horn.

Still moving along fast, neck-and-neck, door-and-door, that grinning fool out the window.  Only 10 or 15 seconds have elapsed, and then that car accelerated easily and fast to move into the lane in front of us.    Realization slammed the Big Mister and me both simultaneously as we took in that last look backward of the man with the crazy grin and the hat tipped over one eye:  he was wearing the Big Mister’s hat!

That sleek gold Audi pulled to the shoulder and we followed.  That crazy-eyed passenger, ink up the length of his arms, grinning still, ran back to us and handed the hat to me.   No words, just shared grins of acknowledgement.

We hope he gets a hat like that–he looked great!


© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. heretherebespiders
    Nov 16, 2011 @ 14:36:13

    Always nice when your expectations of danger are proven wrong! Tis why I’m a pessimist, I usually get a happy surprise or proven right. Win-win!


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