Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I was late. Very late. Images of my exasperated children popped in my head. I could just hear their little voices as they opened the car door. "Mom! Why are you always late?!" In the way of internal conversations, I answered their ghost-question with a mental sigh, "I don't know, my little loves. I don't know. I ask myself the same thing all the time."

As my mind continued conjuring these images, my foot pressed a little harder on the gas. Not that the ten or so seconds gained by going faster would make my children have a mother that was on time, but it made me feel better.

With all that brain-chatter interference, my normally acute cop-radar was not functioning at peak performance. I saw the cop car with my eyes, but it did not register in my brain. Well, it did, but my brain said, "No, Clancy... no need to stomp on the brake. It's parked in front of a house, meaning that the cop lives there." My brain forgot to mention that I've driven this route every day of the week for three years (excluding summers) and never before has there been a patrol car in that spot. I simply continued at my illegal speed, distracted as I was, coming up fast on said police car.

Thinking the car void of inhabitants, I was shocked to suddenly see an arm shoot out of the window, skeletal structure in a straight line to the wrist, ending in a single pointed finger aimed at the ground. The shoulders along with pectorals, lats and countless other muscles unseen by my eyes, forced the prostrate arm and pointing finger up and down in a very exaggerated, very clear message. SLOW DOWN.

It's a rather amazing thing, the adrenal system at work. Before my brain really registered what the signal meant, my heart was pounding and it felt as though it had jumped to my throat, leaving a watery feeling in my arms and stomach. Then my brain (so slow!) finally said, "DUDE! That's a cop sitting there waiting for unsuspecting speeders like you!!!" and it proceeded to send a little message down the pipe (which pipe, by the way, brings to mind those drive through bank teller tubes) causing my foot to stomp on the brake. I slowed down to the speed limit before I reached him and waved in gratitude as I passed without turning my head. After all, I can be grateful without having to show the shame in my eyes to the owner of the warning arm, right?

As I passed and waved, I started giggling rather hysterically. I was suddenly a child, eight, maybe ten years old, caught in some act of stupidity by an adult who rightly gives me a silent but firm rebuke, thus sparing my embarrassment from everyone save myself and the chastising adult. It must have been the combination of that mental image and the blood surging quicker-than-normal through my veins, but I couldn't stop the laughter. The giggling was accompanied by an ear-splitting grin.

I can't explain it, but as I drove to my children, slightly under the speed limit, I was rapturous. Joyous. Happy beyond measure. My insides felt warm, like a cheery fire had been lit in my lower abdominal cavity. The smile on my lips went bone deep and I marveled at this simple gift of sweet exuberance wrapped in the very strange and surprising package of warning and adrenalin. It makes no sense to me, even now. But for reasons unknown, I was unequivocally happy this day.


Elena said...

So funny!!! I've been given a warning before too like that. And yes, I was SO grateful to that cop. It's nice to just get the warning and not the punishment. Glad it all ended happy for you!

Travis said...

Nice of him to warn you rather than snap the lights and make you even later by giving you a ticket.

Rachel Chick said...

Awesome! I love it when your brain isn't connected to your consciousness! :) Thanks for sharing. Thanks for blogging!

brits said...

love the whole bit about being grateful without showing the shame!

Brecca said...

You are an awesome writer and I really enjoyed this, especailly "I don't know, my little ones. I don't know. I ask myself the same thing all the time."

Kristin said...

I love how well you illustrate the story... I'm three with you and know exactly what you mean. Truly love it... especially the giggling from the letdown of adrenaline. I hope to read more!