I was driving south on I95, blaring the Pixies and wondering if my radiator was going to explode again. Two days earlier, it did, right at the halfway point between Port Saint Lucie and St. Augustine as I was driving well over the speed limit. Antifreeze covered everything under my hood causing steam to billow out from any and every opening.
At midnight, pulled over in the middle of nowhere, with the moon and passing semis being my only sources of light, all of my options seemed expensive. To get towed in either direction would cost much more money than I had or even expected to receive in the near future, let alone the repair cost of a new radiator, assuming that was the problem and not a burst hose.
With the help of a polite FHP officer, I was able to get my hands on a few gallons of water, one of which my radiator consumed completely. I drove north wondering how far I would be able to reach before having to pull over and refill my radiator. The FHP office had advised me against this.
“If you end up only being able to drive another thirty miles north before breaking down again, you’re gonna be stuck between nowhere and nowhere. Then what are you gonna do?”
By the time I had realized I was already stuck between nowhere and nowhere, just south of Edgewater to be exact, I realized I may as well give it a shot. No difference between Nowhere X and Nowhere Y. I was driving to see my girlfriend and nothing was going to interfere. And it worked. One gallon of water got me to St. Augustine and then back again.
But before I was back again, I didn’t know if I’d be back again. I ripped it down 95, keeping a steady eye on my temperature gauge, ready to pull over and refill my radiator at a moment’s notice. And while blaring the Pixies, I had another fear in mind.
See, just a few days earlier, my girlfriend introduced me to a young woman who is an ear doctor. We met at a local café to watch a concert. As we sat outside, the three of us drank beer and made small talk until the audiologist said, “Wow. That is really loud. I wonder what the decibel level is out here? It’s got to be at least a hundred. A hundred and ten decibels for eight minutes can permanently damage your hearing. I can only wonder what it’s like inside. I bet there’s an app for this…”
And wouldn’t you believe that minutes later she had one downloaded and installed on her iPhone. We sat outside, watched her test it, and sure enough, the audiologist had studied well. The meter reached a hundred decibels. To quell our curiosity we went inside to test the decibel range there. It maxed out the meter which could only reach a hundred and ten. We stepped back outside.
“It must be at least a hundred and forty in there,” she says, happy to walk out like we were sexual conservatives who had just accidentally stumbled into a nudist colony.
“You’re a horrible person to bring to concerts,” I joked.
And that was that. Now any sound I hear has its decibel level feared along with the potential of it permanently damaging my hearing. I fear I’ll be deaf by thirty, my ears completely rotted away in a few years after that. By the time Caribou was playing, I had the Pixies loud enough to actually hurt my ears. A hundred and forty decibels? I lowered the volume on my radio by just a tad.
And that was my trip. Driving fast, drinking coffee and worrying about my radiator exploding beneath my hood and the decibel level of my radio exploding my eardrums. But the things you really need to worry about are not the things you expect to happen. Certainly, you’re not driving down the road worrying about getting into a car accident when you smash into another car. Or walking down the street worrying about getting mugged when some guy jumps out of the alley with a knife demanding your wallet. These are usually not self-fulfilling prophecies.
Despite being just a few exits away from home, my bladder had indicated to my brain that it was time to pull over and pee. My brain sent a few similar neurotransmissions demanding food. I’m not one for vending machine food, but everyone has a breaking point. I don’t give you shit for buying alcohol in a plastic bottle; don’t give me shit for eating a bag of chips.
I parked my car and walked into the men’s room. As I opened the door, I saw two men standing there, so, as the first one walked out, I tapped the slimy rest area door open for him to leave.
He left. As I walked to the furthermost urinal in the corner of the men’s room, I noticed the other man hadn’t left. I turned around to give a quick glance behind me and noticed him standing in the corner. This seemed odd. In a rest stop bathroom, you should be peeing, crapping, or washing your hands. Nothing else. I stood at the urinal and unzipped my pants, but I couldn’t take my dick out. There I was: me, the destination urinal, and an old man.
I turned around for a second time and saw him standing in the corner staring at me. He was older, about fifty or sixty, and wore blue jeans, a plaid shirt tucked in, and had a white beard below his glasses. Turning around to find Chester Molester staring at me was as creepy as it sounds. I turned around and threw my hands up.
“What’s goin on, man?”
“Not much,” he said, not looking stunned like we were standing in line at Macy’s. I turned back around to face the urinal for half a second until I turned back around to look at him knowing that yes, something much was definitely going on.
When I looked at him this third time, I realized what exactly it was going on. The old man was rubbing his dick. This wasn’t a casual, nonchalant scratch. This was an overt, attention-grabbing arrow pointing straight towards Old Man Dick Town.
He sent me an invitation with his soft yet serious and sexually adamant voice, “This look good?” His beady little eyes stared at me from behind his glasses, the glare of the pale rest stop lights coating the lenses.
“No. It doesn’t. You need to get the fuck out of here.” I hadn’t sounded that testosterone raged since, well, since the last time I was, and that definitely was not because some old man was trying to get off while staring at me in a rest stop bathroom.
“Um, well, uh, alright,” he mumbled as he was opened the door and slithered away. I didn’t think he’d leave. I thought he might charge so I stood there, waiting for him to charge, waiting for him to try and make me think he looked good, waiting to punch him in the throat and watch him take breathe his last breath while covered in rest stop floor urine. As the saying goes, I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.
He never charged. I turned around and peed while looking over my shoulder. I was pissing adrenaline and confusion. I was caught off guard, certainly not expecting to watch some old man rub his dick in front of me at a rest stop. How I peed right after he walked out I don’t know considering I didn’t even want to see my own dick after this, but I did.
I rushed outside to find the guy. I was going to destroy him. I was going to call him everything but a white man and maybe send him straight to Lester Heaven, but I couldn’t find him. I haven’t wanted to beat the shit out of some guy since, well, the last time I wanted to, and that definitely was not because a man stood in the corner and asked me if the act of him rubbing his own penis over his pants looked good. He may as well have puked on the floor, eaten it and asked me if that looked good too.
I had a minute to get my senses straight and wonder about the possibility of a mother sending her eight year old child into that bathroom unattended. The thought made the desire to find him more purpose filled, but I also realized he could’ve been an undercover cop looking to find perverts; a really convincing undercover cop with an acting degree and the stereotypical genetics of a pervert.
Naturally, you wonder many things after an experience like this. I wondered what the third person was doing. You know, the guy walking out when I walked in. Did this guy just go for round 1 with him and was hoping for round 2 with me? Or did the third person not care that he was being stared at while peeing? What situation just occurred moments before I entered that restroom?
I also realized that I didn’t do what you’re probably saying you would have done and what I always said I would have done. And that is quick his ass immediately. But don’t let your high opinion of yourself get in the way of really knowing yourself because no man would have kicked his ass right there. Any man not willing to accept his invitation would have been so shocked, stunned and caught off guard that he would have been paralyzed in action, even if for just a few seconds.
While driving south again on 95, I interrupted my fits of gagging and restraining myself from vomiting by calling the cops and giving them a full description of the white-bearded man in the corner of the bathroom.
“Some old pervert just rubbed his dick in front of me at the rest stop on southbound 95 in Fort Pierce…”
“Ok, we’ll send someone out immediately.”
No use. The guy was already gone. I drove to work. I didn’t care about my broken radiator, I didn’t play any music at all, let alone too loud, and my overactive gag reflex marked my latest worry while the fears accumulated in my head.