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Age


Sometimes, when I get behind the wheel of a car, I feel like I’m at Six Flags Great America Amusement Park In Gurnee, Illinois again and I’m thirteen years old and I’m able to drive one of the bumper cars. And it’s such a thrill -- because, I mean, I’m thirteen years old and I can’t drive, and I’m now in control of this huge piece of machinery. Granted, there’s this wire sticking up from the car that gets electricity from the ceiling, but for once I feel free, that I can just go, go faster than I ever could by running, or even if I used my roller skates or my bicycle.
And when I get that feeling and I’m behind the wheel of my car I want to drive really really fast out on an abandoned road, blare some rock music, roll down my window, and turn up the heat, since it’s the middle of winter.

Sometimes, when I go out on a new date, I feel like I’m sixteen again, and I’ll rifle through my closet, deciding I have absolutely nothing to wear. And he’ll pick me up, and we’ll go to a restaurant with deer heads on the walls, and we’ll have whiskey sours, and we’ll struggle with the lettuce leaves in the salads because they’re too big, and when we’re done with dinner we’ll go to a bar that’s so crowded and so loud that we won’t be able to talk to each other, but we’ll have to stand real close. And then he’ll take me home and I’ll invite him in, he’ll sit on the chair, I’ll sit on the couch, and he’ll ask for a glass of water. When we can’t think of any more small talk, and the clock says 3:12 a.m., I’ll see him to the door, he’ll kiss me good-bye, and I’ll lock the door after he leaves. And when I’m sure he can’t see me through the window, I’ll turn on the stereo and dance in my living room before I go to bed.

Sometimes, when I’m having sex with someone, I feel like I’ve done this for years, like I’ve been married to this man for twenty years, and I still don’t know him, but I’m still there, night after night. After the wedding, after the new house, which was a little small, but we’ll get something bigger when we have the money, after the two kids and the fifteen pounds, after I lose my job, after we don’t get that new house and after the kids complain about their curfews, after the dog dies, hell, it was only trouble for us anyway, after the sinus headaches, the back problems, that all-over sore feeling, you know, it’s harder to wake up in the mornings now, after it all he still has the nights, the sex with the woman he knows all too well but not at all, and we do it, as we always do. It becomes memorization. It becomes like a play, that I act out night after night.

Sometimes, when I get home after 10 o’clock from working overtime on the computers, I just want to retire, to quit the work, to stop it all. I see my parents, after a life of working at the construction site and raising five children, now beginning to relax, buying a small home in Southwest Florida, playing tennis in the morning, playing cards in the afternoon, drinking with other retired couples in the evening. Sometimes another couple invites them out for a boat ride off of Marco Island, where they smoke cigarettes, drink a few beers, and drive slow enough to make no wake when they’re by the pier.
Sometimes I look at the computer screen I work at and remember how computers used to mean video games. I remember when I was eight and I would sit with my best friend in the upstairs den on the floor in front of the old television set and play table tennis on our Atari. Times change, I suppose, and I get old. This is my life.



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