The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Drinking in the Moment

So there I was, rolling along through the Van Duzer Corridor between the Oregon Coast and the Big City – Portland. The curves were tight, the pace was low, and I was driving a 40hp 1965 VW. It was a nice crisp autumn morning, and I was feeling fine.

There was a decent line developing behind me, but I wasn’t worried. I knew I could go no faster, and that quite frankly, no one else should be going faster either. I decided to just bask in the day, drink it in, enjoy the scenery, and not worry about the angst-ridden drivers behind me. The car count behind me got up to 5. then 7, 9, 12 cars. But still, I wasn’t worried.

As we exited the tightest curves, and approached the first of a couple brief passing lanes, I could see a 1990 Dodge Shelby about 4 cars back, jockeying into the oncoming lane. He was in a fine kettle, flashing his lights, blaring the horn, weaving out aggressively as if he were going to pass anyway. I smiled. I knew his kind. None too smart, driving a lame car with stuck on effects to make would-be purchasers think they were getting the full Shelby Treatment, when in fact it was nothing but a K-car underneath.

But I understood his angst too. It was a great road to go blasting down, living one’s fantasies of Nascar, or Formula 1 racing, imagining his name in lights beside the greatest racers of our time. And here was this little Beetle – my Beetle – slowing him down. I understood.

But I answered to a higher power. I drove the speed limit, and just drank in the moment.

The moment we hit the straight stretch – even before the solid yellow line disappeared, he did what I knew he would do. He did his best to light up his tires, jerked his car out into the oncoming lane, and bore down on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a competitive guy, and this car closing on me in the rear-view mirror sparked an instinct in me. But still…I smiled. I even chortled a little inside. It was a beautiful day. And it was about to get even more beautiful.

Shelby Sam went flying past me – had to be doing at least 80 as he scream past, arm extended over the car, violently flipping the bird at me with one hand, working the horn with the other, looking more at me than the road. I have to admit that there was, at that moment, just a twinge of sympathy. Not much, just a hint of it. I recovered quickly.

As he roared past, and reached the point where he wanted to pull back in front of me, his car suddenly jerked back and forth. It had been exactly at the moment that he realized that in front of me was a motorcycle cop, and that he was about to overtake that cop going 90mph. He lit the tires with his brakes, skidding a little back and forth, and then just froze. He couldn’t pass. He didn’t know, suddenly, how to slow back and pull in behind. He was just stuck, mentally, out there in the oncoming lane, doing precisely 55mph.

The motorcycle cop gesticulated to him. With a gracious sweep of his hand he invited the Shelby guy to pull in front of him, and then over. It was such beautiful gesture, kind, understanding, magnanimous. They slowed on the shoulder as one, lights blinking, horn silent.

And as I overtook them on that beautiful fall morning, I offered the best I had, a double tap of a Volkswagen horn. It’s chirpy perkiness brightened up an already glorious morning. And behind me, every car that had just witnessed the moment double-tapped their horns in succession. It was a Noble Moment of solidarity from we drivers.

19 years later, I’m still chuckling.Scan10002


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One Response to “Drinking in the Moment”

  1. Jodie says:

    That ain’t right my friend, I understand, but it still doesn’t sit well even as I’m laughing

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