I cherish feeling alive. I embrace life. Carpe diem. Life quickly becomes ordinary with work, and chores, and mundane tasks, like sleeping, running errands, and consuming food solely for the sake of nutritional need. As a hedonist, I try to infuse as much pleasure into everything I can. I need life to be vital, vibrant, a little edgy, even. Outside of adventure, there are a list of things that make me feel very alive; great food, a beautiful sunset, awesome conversation, great beer, a moonlit night, the beach, good wine, a mountain top, passionate sex, roller coasters, the sound of the wind in the trees, running further and faster than the last time, music that makes me move, and driving faster than I should.
Not that my life is ordinary, not that my life is normal, not that my life is dull, but every now and then, okay, nearly daily, I feel the need. I feel the need, the need for speed; just to keep things interesting, on a couple of different levels. Okay, I drive a very practical Honda Civic, complete with the nifty digital speedometer high enough on the instrument panel to be seen, easily, by surrounding automobiles, including, of course, cops, just in case they had any doubt about the speed they clocked me at. Is it ironic that my last ticket, nearly thirty years ago, was given at Searspoint (Sonoma International) Raceway, which, lately, I pass by, in a blur, almost daily. But, at 82 miles per hour, who cares what you drive? It’s still 82 miles per hour and, in excess of any speed limit, at least in my home state of California. I’m a law breaker.
I love a little game of predator and prey; the cops, and me. I get some kind of joyous satisfaction out of exceeding the speed limit, regularly, and not getting caught. Now, before I go any further with this topic, I do want to make perfectly clear, that in all residential areas, I obey speed limit, without exception, to the frustration of many like-minded speed demons. But on the highway and on rural routes, I am the prey, outrunning, out pacing, and going undetected by the predator. It is a thrill. Perhaps I am easily thrilled, that wouldn’t be a bad thing, I suppose. I really enjoy making it from point to point, at higher than legal speeds, without getting caught, for many, many, many years running. I’ll probably get a speeding ticket tomorrow, but I still will consider myself the victor for having eluded capture for so long. Like any prey animal, I have a knack for knowing where the predator lurks. I have almost a sixth sense for when a predator is nigh. Or, perhaps it is just practice. Or dumb luck.
It is not about being the fastest car on the road, as a matter of strategy, I usually like to make sure there is at least one other vehicle traveling at a faster rate than I. I’ll admit, sometimes I even create this situation by sort of enticing another driver into driving faster than me. I can be a little aggressive, a bit obnoxious, and a bit of an instigator. However it goes, the object, for me, is to have a clear lane in front of me. I do not like my view obstructed by any vehicle, and, particularly, a large vehicle. It’s like driving behind a billboard. And, ideally, I can maneuver my way into a “bubble” in traffic, where I have no cars in the lanes beside me, in front of me, or for a distance behind me. It is in speeding and other risky driving behaviors that I create, for myself, the safest situation on the highway; no cars in my midst.
I love a little risky business; I love making crafty lane changes, outsmarting and outmaneuvering other, lesser, drivers, so as to accomplish the desirable position in traffic; clear lane ahead of me, unimpeded roadway, clear view of any hazards; cops, brake lights, or idiot blocks. What are idiot blocks, you ask? An idiot block is a cluster of cars, across all lanes, going the same, infuriating speed, and blocking those of us who wish to go a fraction faster, from passing. These blocks are usually comprised of minivans, elderly drivers, and stereotypically bad drivers (I’ll not go into details, here, apply your own stereotypes). I assume risk. Truthfully, I’d rather die in a fiery, single car accident, on a beautiful stretch of highway, a smidge too young, than old, withered and decrepit, in front of a TV game show, in a hospital bed, in some smelly, convalescent home, at some impressive, old age.
Today, on a near perfect drive between Napa and Marin counties, I endeavored to get past a small but frustrating idiot block. The driving conditions were perfection. The day was perfection. It was bright and sunny, there were fluffy clouds in the sky, it was perfect sunroof all the way open weather, not too cool, not too warm, perfection. The grass on the rolling hills is bright green, the vineyards are bursting in color from the mustard planted between the rows. There has been a breeze and a little moisture in the air over the past few nights, so the sky is as blue and a child would color a blue sky in a coloring book. There is no commute traffic and the limousines and “wine country” traffic is headed in the opposite direction I am. I. Am. In. Driving. Heaven. Even in a Civic.
Just past Searspoint, on Highway 37, California State Route 37 made somewhat well-known by the Train album cover, I encountered cars wishing to travel at precisely the speed limit. Though I was enjoying my drive, I was anxious to arrive at my destination in Marin, where a hug, a kiss, a few quality hours of extraordinary company, an exquisitely crafted latte, a couple of authentic tacos, perhaps a hike, or other, even more satisfying physical endeavor awaited me. I figured 72 miles per hour was about perfect; fast enough to get me there expeditiously, slow enough to not garner the attention of law enforcement. Traffic was clumped up at about 68 miles per hour. A challenge. I laugh. Gauntlet thrown down (insert wicked laughter here). I encountered, at this point, a driver not too unlike myself. A woman, in a newer Chevy of some sort. She drove in the lane behind me and seemed to want around the idiot block, too. There was a minivan in the lane to the right of me. The car in front of me was traveling at a rate microscopically faster than the car next to me. For some flawed reason, the driver behind me thought she’d be able to pass me on the right, cut in front of me, move back to the right, and eclipse us all. I could tell by her “posture” that’s what she was thinking. I closed the gap just enough as she sideled up next to me to prevent her from completing her intent. Her success would’ve prevented me from making my strategic move. She found herself stuck behind the minivan in the right lane, and as the car ahead of me inched past the minivan, I “shot the gap”, slipping between the two vehicles and into the clear, right hand lane, in front of the minivan. I accelerated to about 82, cleared the car in the left lane, and made my way back into the free, clear, open left lane. Not a car in my way for miles. Up and over the bridge, around the corner and headed towards U.S. 101, cruising, comfortably now, at 72 miles per hour. Suddenly, like a bat out of hell, Chevy girl passes me on the right. I glanced at her, she was smiling ear to ear as she passed. She thought she “won”! Well, perhaps she did win; her own game. I still considered myself victorious, I got my desired “lane position” before she did, and still had an open, free, clear, lane ahead of me. It wasn’t the rate at which I travelled, it was the fact that I had nothing impeding my progress, or my view, as I merged onto U.S. 101 towards Marin. And, remember, I do like to have another driver traveling faster than I. Let them “draw fire”, I like to say. At this moment, I am happy, so, so, happy.
I count my blessings that I am so easily moved to a state of happiness. It doesn’t take gobs of money, a stucco monstrosity of a house, a plastic surgeon, the top rung of the corporate ladder, or even en exotic sports car, though, that, I would not reject, if offered! I am made happy simply by the feeling of freedom, movement, a sense of adventure, a sweet, sincere, like-minded, and passionate lover, great flavors, the beauty of nature, a fun or lovely tune, or an expanse of open, winding, road in front of me! Hedonist that I am.