There was perhaps another time before this, when we both found ourselves stuck in a small town on a lake, the Studebaker overheated and broken down until down. We were on our way to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for a wedding, but now found ourselves delayed in a place that barely deserved a name. The roadside motel we lodged in advertised a television in every room, but the Admiral set in ours remained switched off as we laid out suitcases on one bed and studied the faux wood paneling on the wall. The room felt too small after long hours driving down the highway, so we head down the street to the 24 hour diner (Plato’s). It is surprisingly busy at this late hour, the waitress craning her head towards the back to see if a booth is open. The rotund Greek behind the counter in the paper hat, presumably the owner, resembles Pan a bit, with a little sleepy Hades mixed in for dark effect. Nonetheless, the black and white tile floor is clean, the seabreeze green Formica table of the booth is sparkling, the tableside jukebox is shiny and polished.
The day was spent driving through cacti-pocked desert that turned into alfalfa fields, so we feel ready for a chocolate shake and a cherry phosphate. You pick out some Eddie Cochrane on the jukebox, and we hold hands while we debate how to make up the lost time tomorrow. I look out the window and study the cars in the gravel lot: a few old Ford pickups, a Thunderbird, and a Galaxy. It is a Ford town, I mumble. You shake your ponytail to the beat of the song, and it ends right when our refreshing confections arrive.
Hmmm, meatloaf sandwich? I inquire, looking at the menu.
Nope, you respond after a slurp of your chocolate shake.
We linger for a bit, then wander back to the motel to shower and turn out the lights. Headlights illuminate the drapes throughout the night.
The next morning, I walk to the garage next door and recover the Studebaker. We load up the suitcases in the trunk, grab a cup of coffee from Plato’s, and drive out of town past the lake.
We get to Carlisle just before the rehearsal dinner, but manage to climb into our semi-formal attire beforehand and arrive with fresh smiles on our faces. It is good to see old friends, the ballroom where the reception is held is coral pink, the band’s tuxedos are blindingly white.
However, it still feels good when we roll home a few days later, unpack the suitcases, and collapse into bed. We wake up late the next day. Fortunately, it is a Saturday, with warm ocean breezes through the open bedroom window.
Tiki bar or bowling alley? you inquire.
Why not both? I respond, and then roll out of bed for a shower and a shave.
However, before all of that cosmic amusement, we need to climb on the bicycles and ride for the hills. I close the garage door as you fix your sunglasses on your face, and we roll down the asphalt until we get to the Las Cruces Mountain Trail. The pine wrens fly above our heads as we sweat and pedal our way to the top of the hill, your polka-dot scarf holding up your hair, your thighs in denim shorts glistening with sweat. At the top of the hill, we behold the Pacific Ocean and the winding ribbon of highway below, a solitary black Lincoln nosing through the curves
Race you to the bottom? I inquire.
Nope, you respond with a shake of your head.
I set out down the hill, working my brakes as I round the corners and brush past the dogwood branches. Halfway to the bottom, I hear a rushing sound, turn my head, and see a blurred figure in denim shorts rush past me.
WOOOOOO, I WIN! you shout, your fine rear end racing away from me.
Once I get to the bottom, you are inspecting a grease stain on your cheek, just below your eye, using your pocket compact mirror.
I’m better than you, you snicker.
I respond with a rockabilly growl, and we coast back home on the asphalt, laughing.
Once home, we drink iced tea with lemon and read paperbacks on the patio, the sweat drying in the breeze. Your paperback is called THE BEEKEEPER’S DAUGHTER, mine is titled LAST STAND ON NEPTUNE. You rest your feet on my legs, and I gently massage your thighs between turning pages. The pitcher of tea finished, we go inside for a steamy shower. You get in first, and I decide I don’t feel like waiting. I open the frosted glass door to behold your figure like a shot of tequila with lime.
May I join you? I inquire.
Yup, you respond.
After the shower, we have to pick out which tiki bar to go to (Tiki Atomic or Natalie Zea’s) and which bowling alley to lace up at (Airport Bowl or Laguna Lanes). However, for now, we have a moment where we can find each other in this little cabin of steam, speaking in the poetry of touches and kisses, finding the center of the universe in your body and mine.