The traffic is horrendous.
“What do you suppose is going on,” he says, frowning slightly. It’s the kind of statement not entirely directed at me, although it’s taken years to recognize this. While he has been known, of course, to speak to me, Willie also speaks aloud to himself, the cat (who rarely deigns to respond) and the flower boxes (“Who would like a little water? You? Would you like a little water? Of course you would…”)
‘Rhetorical’, I say to myself, and then say nothing. I’ve been practicing this lately, saying less and listening more. It’s a foreign concept to this extravert, and I fight the urge to mention my new-found reticence, judging correctly, I think, that this would go against my carefully cultivated introspection.
“Look at this. Mm mm mmm. I can’t even change lanes.” Willie, a man who rarely works his way up to an exclamation point, is genuinely concerned with the state of the roadways, as are all right-thinking Minnesotans at this time of year. Spring, after all, is a many splendored thing, taking away snow and leaving behind pot holes.
“It’s Roseville,” I say. “There’s something wrong with the roads here.” I frown, then quickly un-frown. One of my New Year’s Resolutions, just ahead of “Dash More, Plop Less” and just after “Be More Onomatopoeic”, is “Frowning Gives You Wrinkles – Cut it Out”.
I pull out my book, the one I keep in my purse. What would happen, I write, if I said less than half of what I was thinking?
“There’s something about the entrance ramps,” Willie says, almost to himself. “You just can’t – ugh – get – hmm – over.”
With this last word, he is finally able to move into the lane he wants. Grinning, he waves to the person behind him via the rearview mirror: Thanks, buddy.
He looks over at me. “That was easy,” he says. “Normally, I get screwed in Roseville.”
And I smile, silently take out my book again.
Willie, I write, smiling maniacally, is coming on to me in traffic...