SSA-West 2013: The Ride Over


Imagine you’re in a small metal death cube hurtling down a 2 lane, undivided highway at ninety miles an hour, windows open, the worst techno dubstep electronica blasting continuously at 83 decibels (and yes, I measured). You look to your left to see a right hand’s thumb navigating his smartphone’s pandora station. Well no big deal, surely the left hand is on the steering wheel. Nope! Left hand is pouring trail mix into the other fingers on his right hand. Left knee, sensing doom, attempts to save the day by exploiting the basic friction present between any two surfaces to steer the death cube, while focusing hard on evolving thumbs (or at least gecko skin).

Good thing both eyes are utilizing the power of binocular vision, honed by millions of years of predatory omnivore evolution to gauge the speed, distance and trajectory of moving objects to coordinate the management of the many wheel-steering appendages. You look up cautiously.

Eyes, WHAT are you doing looking over here? Mouth, stop smoking weed out of a pipe while driving!

And then you notice you’ve been started and the worst part begins.

He starts explaining things to you.

Things you already know (are wrong).
Things he couldn’t possibly know.
Things you’re telling him you know right now.

Selected topics from the “things you already know (are wrong)” category:
“Charging” in fact merely means “ions are going into your phone.”
“Factors” is another word for “variables.”
It’s generally better not to drink your own piss.
He can safely hit the 55 curve going 90 in his “American-made” Honda Accord because highway interchanges are “standardized between states,” and even if he slides, he won’t lose control.

Things he couldn’t possibly know:
The effects of The Pill on women’s psychology
How this sheds new light on our notorious propensity to be fickle bitches falling in and out of love for reasons unrelated to his, I mean, men’s behavior.
Why the broken phone charger I tossed several months ago in fact worked.

And from the last category:
“Did you know that when your phone connects to a satellite to do something, it wouldn’t work without the theory of relativity?”
“Yes, actually! Ya see my grandma’s a satellite engineer and – ”
“Well basically the satellites “talk” to each other, and they need the theory of relativity otherwise your phone wouldn’t work.”

Cool story, bro!

Just then, a glimmer of hope. He leans over and asks you a question, and it’s actually about you! You answer, “I’m studying speech pathology.”

“Oh, that’s great! I’m so glad to hear you’re going into a science, since you’re a girl and you have an inferior brain.”


As soon as we stopped in the UNLV parking lot, I ran weeping into the arms of my friend. You see, I’d begun seriously entertaining the possibility that my entire life had been a delusion created by my desperate mind to escape the painful reality of being in that car. As I walked in, I wondered whether the culture at the conference would be more welcoming to his type or mine. Should I even broach the subject?

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