Monday, March 15, 2004

Drive Thru, Drive By...What's the Difference? 

I've written some already about the time I spent living in Denver and going to school. There are times, I will admit, that I would like to forget the entire year or so I spent as a resident of the Mile High City. Unfortunately, I cannot. It's probably for the best, as we should all learn from our experiences. In keeping with this theme, our lesson today is entitled "How to delay being shot while in traffic by utilizing foodstuffs as a defense mechanism." We begin....now.

If you're a regular reader (and you two know who you are) you're already aware that I was forced to be in the company of my 'roommate' Jay for a lot of the time I spent in Denver. In addition, you're already aware that he was a complete and total PAIN IN MY ASS. Most of the bad things that happened to me while I was in Denver can be traced back to him. I really should've punched him in the throat when I had the chance. Maybe someday I'll get that opportunity again. I'll surely pounce on it if it presents itself. Anyway...

Jay had a bad habit of throwing trash out of the car window, regardless of which car or which window. If we were in a car that had a window, Jay would find SOMETHING to throw at SOMEONE. I shall now impart a tale dealing with the ramifications of indiscriminately firing leaky hot sauce packets out of a car window while said car is motoring down an interstate highway...In Denver...In the Summertime.

When I was younger, my favorite place in the whole world to eat was Taco Bell. I could, and would, indulge in their faux-mexican fare every single day. This was during a very magical time known as "The Early Nineties." At that time, Taco Bell boasted a 59¢, 79¢ and 99¢ menu. You could get in and out of there for 3-5 bucks and be absolutely stuffed to boot. It's at a Taco Bell that our story begins.

It was a lovely summer day in the Denver Metro Area. Jay and I had decided that it might be good to fill up on some food before heading toward home. I pulled my '76 Olds off the road and toward a Taco Bell. We ordered, pulled forward to the window, paid for, and accepted, our big bag of crap. The attendant then inquired if we would like any sauce with our order. My stock answer to this query is "no." Jay, on the other hand, screams out the phrase "LOTS OF HOT SAUCE!" The window minion hands me a considerable 'grip' of hot sauce packets and we're on our way.

For the next several minutes, I've certainly got enough to keep me busy what with the trying to eat while negotiating afternoon interstate traffic in denver. Eventually I finish off all of the pieces of my gastronomical puzzle and am able to place both hands back on the wheel and my full attention back on the road. I then glance over at Jay who has also finished eating. It's at this time I come to the realization that the quantity of hot sauce I was handed at the drive-thru was to be used for more than simply spicing up fast food. Jay has started tearing the corners off of the leftover packets and is letting them fly from out of the passenger-side window, back toward traffic.

"What're you doing?" I ask.

"Hitting windshields with sauce." Jay replies.

"Cut it out." I say.

I guess I can say that, without Jay, I never would have learned from a representative of the Colorado State patrol that the driver of any vehicle is ultimately responsible for the behavior of his or her passenger. It seems a bit unfair when you have to travel with a complete retard every day, but thems the breaks. I didn't really want to be pulled over and issued a ticket for Mr. Asshole's erratic and antisocial behavior, but I also didn't know how far along he was with Operation Salsa Liberation. I would find out soon enough, however, exactly how far along he was. Also, I would learn, that being pulled over was the least of my impending worries.

In Denver, people drive like maniacs. I'm sure people drive like maniacs everywhere. What I'm getting at is that, at any given time, it wouldn't be surprising to see someone driving very fast and appearing very agitated. This is why I didn't really see the gold Mercedes coming up fast on my left as a threat of any kind. At least not until the driver succeeded in acquiring my undivided attention.

As I said, the vehicle was a gold Mercedes. It proceeds to roar up on the left side of my Oldsmobile and begins riding even. My window, of course, is down and I can hear honking and shouting emanating from the Mercedes. I eventually determine that the noise is meant for me. I look over and see a young Asian male driving and a young Asian female riding in the passenger seat. both are glaring and shouting in my direction. As I focus my gaze in their direction, the driver points a very shiny 9mm handgun at me.

I mentioned previously that it was a very nice Summer day. During our earlier stop at Taco Bell, I had purchased myself an EXTRA LARGE Mountain Dew. I hadn't had opportunity yet to drain much from it, and it was resting majestically in a large cupholder that I had hanging on my door. I will have to admit that I panicked a bit when I saw the firearm trained on my cranium. So much so, that I commenced with an adrenaline-driven pre-emptive strike toward my would-be attacker with the only weapon I had at my disposal. My extra large Mountain Dew.

I let the cup full of chilled soda goodness fly with a left-handed sidearm through my window and into theirs, striking the female occupying the passenger seat square in the side of her noggin. Upon impact, the cup and lid separated, sending a torrent of Mountain Dew and ice in all directions. She was soaked. He was soaked. The interior was soaked. I had, in fact, scored a direct hit.

The second or two that follow the impact are burned into my memory like some sort of slow-motion sequence from an action film. In this short bit of time, my expression turns from one of fear and surprise to one of elation. I cannot help but grin from ear to ear and display my utter satisfaction with what I have just witnessed. The look of absolute surprise and shame on her face quickly turns to murderous rage as she snatches the gun out of the driver's hand, aims at my head and pulls the trigger 8 or 9 times.


She would've emptied the entire clip in my direction if the gun had been loaded. Ironically, it was not. This fact prompted her to then turn her unstatiated rage back toward the driver, handing him a sound (and justified) pistol-whipping. (Apparently it was HER turn to dress slutty and HIS turn to load the gun. Who knew!?) It was at this time that I saw fit to laugh heartily and punch my accelerator, letting the Olds' V8 spirit me away to relative safety. I say 'relative' since the person most responsible for my near-demise was still SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME in shocked amazement of what he'd just seen.

We drove the rest of the way home that day in relative silence. I was mostly contemplating the fact that it would only be a matter if time before he tried to get me killed again. he probably thought mostly about things like pretty lights, colors and food.

Postscript: Things did eventually catch up to Jay, in a strange karmaic fashion. He's never been able to hold a job above that of "gas station cashier" for more than a week. He also stuck one of his fingers in an arc welder some time ago and blew it off. Given this, I'm convinced of two things:
1. If I had been anywhere near said arc welder, he surely would've found a way to have the arc welder sneak up on me, grab my finger and blow it to bits. Also:
2. No matter what happens to him, it's not enough. I still want to punch him in the throat. Hard. Even if he ends up in a wheelchair, I'd like very much to hit him. If he were incapacitated, that would just make my job (hitting him) easier. Less moving around and all, you know.

I don't eat at Taco Bell much at all anymore.

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