Don’t fall asleep. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t fall asleep. Long ago there was excitement in the bright red lights that were stacked together in rows ambling into the distance. City lights were exciting back then too. All that energy, life, human activity.
But after driving around for half a day in that traffic, the enthusiasm wanes. And above there was that smooth, never-ending grey sky, with no blinding sun to cause me to jerk my head about now and then. The vehicle moved onward, lulling, cajoling—like the lullaby of a siren. Sleep, baby, just sleep.
“Nope, never going to happen,” I said as I shook my hair out of my face. The traffic had slowed again to an uninteresting pace, so I scanned my surroundings. What fellow humans were also enduring the siren lullaby of boring traffic sleepiness? What other humans were sharing this moment with me, indirectly, each of us encapsulated in our own vehicles but sharing the moment nonetheless.
That’s what I will do, I thought. I will just play The Crawl into Someone Else’s Body Game. That one always wakes a person up.
And so I searched out my first host. No, let’s say subject. Subject sounds a little less ominous, don’t you think? The first person I spotted didn’t look like a great catch, but I didn’t have excellent visibility of any other more attractive fishes, so I decided he was a keeper.
He was driving a fairly new looking pickup truck with the window rolled down. He was about my age—early 30’s—with a dark colored beard that scuffed up his chin in a tangle of short curling hairs. He fit the profile for fifty percent of all white American men in their 30’s. I tapped my fingernails against the steering wheel, already feeling bored.
But I Decided to Go in Anyway
I blinked at my hands set on the steering wheel. The long fingernails were gone, replaced with short ones with a bit of dirt beneath them, attached to fat fingers. I touched the scruffy beard. It was wirier than expected. Turning toward the rearview mirror, I got a proper glance at my small deep set eyes and decided that I was not half bad looking. But maybe I should shave? I had no more time to rub my beard, as the light changed.
Manual. It’s been a while, but I’ve got this—and look at these man hands I have for shifting gears!
We—the truck, the man body subject, and I—stumbled forward, but didn’t stall. At the next light I had a bit more time for self-exploration. I was wearing one of those t-shirts with a bass on the back of it, of course. And cargo shorts, of course. I had the sinking feeling that my entire closet was full of the same. Not even one nice suit for special occasions. My underwear has a hole in it too, I can just tell. No matter, when in Rome.
Inside the glove compartment was a plastic bottle of cheap cologne—the sort that comes in gift boxes at Walmart for five dollars at Christmastime. Then I had the forethought to smell myself and…yep, I had already put it all over me. Upon exiting my truck I would be walking in a cloud of Walmart man smell. What am I, fourteen? It’s alright, when in Rome.
I took a deep breath and picked up the phone sitting on the console. It opened up to a text conversation, and there, front and center was a picture of a penis with the little word “sent” beneath it. I dropped the phone, which immediately slid into the netherworld beneath the seat. I tossed myself restlessly as my thoughts raced.
Am I the sort of man that texts pictures of his penis? I don’t think I can live with that. The cologne—okay, we can fix that—but all the penis shots floating around out there? Wait a second…that was my penis. I was not ready to see my own penis. Baby steps—you know better—you always take baby steps in these situations!
I was starting to feel like I might be hyperventilating. That was when I felt my head turn toward the passenger window while a glimmer of movement along the sidewalk outside caught my eye. It was like the instinctive urge a frog has to suddenly fling its tongue out to catch a fly. Walking there was a woman dressed in a way that was quite obviously intended to garner attention, in that quite-possibly-a-prostitute sort of way. My gaze lingered for a few seconds before suddenly my free will burst into action.
I’m checking out prostitutes! Oh my god, where’s the panic button?
I Was Still Internally Screaming When I Noticed the Long Fingernails Tapping on the Steering Wheel
I let out a long, slow breath as I smelled myself and took notice of the fact that I was back to my nature-intended gender. I saw my phone sitting atop my purse on the console, and I smiled. There were no penises in it.
The adrenaline seemed to slowly be dissipating. My heart settled back into its normal groove. The traffic continued, and I saw the pickup truck turn off onto a side road. I hoped he found his phone.
I was not too terribly far from home when I drove past someone of interest. She was exiting a trailer park on very skinny legs. Her entire body looked a bit wasted, and a cigarette hung between her lips. It looked like maybe she had smoked most of the life right out of her. Her hair was long and ratty and greasy and her clothes had those dumb name-brand emblems on them. You know, because when you are really poor the most important thing is to wear stuff with expensive names on it.
She was meandering toward a convenience store nearby, but she stopped short to turn back toward the trailer park entrance and toss some words that were likely obscene into the air. Her face wrinkled up with self-righteous hatred—now there was a character. And damn, was I tempted.
You couldn’t even handle a penis, you certainly can’t handle her, I thought as I got close to my neighborhood. Baby Steps.
And just like that, The Crawling into Someone Else’s Body Game kept me awake. It is always good for that.