To my fellow I-40 drivers, I’m an in-process PSA—a future, grisly slide for a Driver’s Education course. With a massive mid-century modern leather sofa–nicknamed Betty–completely obscuring the right half of my Matrix (Trixxy), I try to play it cool. Nothing to see here, police. Just a gay on the road to decorating bliss. With some additional badonkadonk in Trixxy’s trunk.
A muffled observation comes from the floorboard behind my seat.
“Wow, you have two cup holders? Perfect for my Evian bottle.”
Cloaked in a microfiber throw, Andy shifts, kneeing my back and pushing my face into Betty’s leg.
“If I was a lesbian, my hips would be too wide to fit back here. Then again, we’d probably be in a Subaru Forester. Which would mean I’d actually have a seat.”
I try to hum my agreement, but gum Betty’s leg instead.
This morning, right as I’d contemplated dropping Andy’s IKEA plates, he materialized in the kitchen doorway as fast as that girl from The Ring. He had an announcement.
“I need your measuring tape. I’m going to see if we can do something.”
Intentionally obscure comments always grab my attention. And, apparently, also transpose IKEA plates from potentially destructive hands to safe cabinet space. Next to my beloved Fiesta ware, no less.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to see if we can get Betty into Trixxy.”
Smart man. With our apartment in full-fledged disarray—my eyes darting from overflowing boxes to precariously stacked furniture—Andy knew the one thing that could possibly delay me from assuming the fetal position and channeling my inner Nell. No, not chocolate.
A few minutes later, the front door slammed.
“Get your pants on! We’re going to get Betty.”
I smiled. Then narrowed my eyes at the Campbell’s Soup mug-bowls peering out from the cabinet. “Count your lucky stars. You’re safe. For now.”
Flash-forward through disassembling Trixxy’s interior and stuffing Betty inside. It’s dusk; Trixxy’s undercarriage occasionally groans from sofa rearrangement. With a few final expletives, we get the driver’s side seat angled enough for me to accelerate and brake relatively safely, while leaving a small space in the back floorboard.
A young family approaches. As I subvert my envy of youth’s bodily plasticity, I reconsider the space between Trixxy’s steering column and driver’s seat.
“This is going to be tight. I hope I don’t end up with an impaled face.”
“Don’t worry. If anything happens, you’ll die instantly. But I’ll probably be okay.”
Once the family disappears from view, Andy folds himself into the floorboard and covers his head with the throw. And we’re off.
Only one driver induces a life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment, but I narrate that close call out of my running commentary.
“Say something every now and then so I know you haven’t suffocated.”
“I’m glad I brought my water.”
He shifts again.
“Oh, much better. I should tell you I’m claustrophobic.”
“Well, as long as I can move my limbs, I’m okay. Otherwise, I’ll freak out.”
A few more bumps and curves later, we pull up to the apartment. Removing Andy from the floorboard reminds me of the images I’ve seen of Saddam’s extrication from his bunker.
“Take a minute and breathe. Let the blood flow back to your feet.”
“I’m a little dizzy.”
Andy totters up to the front door and I open Trixxy’s trunk. With a few heaves and close calls with narrow doors, we get Betty upstairs. She’s home.
“I can tell you’re excited.”
And I am. So much so, I barely notice the blood seeping from my battered thumb.
“Don’t get blood on Betty!”
About an hour later, Andy and I spread our celebratory Whole Foods loot across the coffee table and sit on the floor with Betty at our backs. Avatar begins streaming through the TV, illuminating the darkened room between Isaac’s intermittent lightening.
And it’s in that moment that I realize, seven years ago today, I came out to my family.
Andy rummages his hand through a gummy bear bag. I look down at my overflowing plate. And grin at the metaphor.