Podunk is the home of some damned expensive gasoline. Hovering close to $4/gallon, we’re a good 50 cents higher than the next closest city of any size, by which I mean Omaha, Nebraska.
But it’s not high enough. A few months ago, I wrote about Her Royal Highness’ desire at age 15 to take driver’s ed. If you don’t believe me you can read Not Licensed to Drive.
We eventually submitted, as we inevitably do, and now she has what is known in Idaho as a learner’s permit. Learner’s permit is code for “spend 50 hours scaring the living dog shit out of your parents.” Her Royal Highness is quite honestly the scariest driver I have ever ridden with. Her father — the Iron Chef — and I are trying to pinpoint the cause or causes of this affliction: legal blindness, fearlessness, club foot.
After a particularly frightening incident near Mud Lake (to understand my already despondent frame of mind, please see Remote Possibilities.) Allowing Her Highness to cruise through Mud Lake seemed fool proof, putting only tumbleweeds and feral cats in danger. But we hadn’t bargained on it being Combine Season. Now, if you are a Podunk, you might automatically get excited about Combine Season and even conjure up images of the awesome Lind, Washington Combine Demolition Derby.
Her Royal Highness hadn’t had a lot of practice passing cars, and in hindsight, practicing on a large tractor might not have been the right answer, especially with her entire nuclear family in the car. To make a short story long, she pulled into the part of the passing lane that the combine wasn’t crowding without acknowledging that what was our passing lane was also used by oncoming traffic as their primary lane. For a moment she seemed to acknowledge that she saw the oncoming vehicle not so far in the distance (but only a board-certified opthamologist can confirm this), but her resolve was iron clad … we would not retreat.
As we played chicken with oncoming traffic ahead of us, a large churning piece of industrial farm equipment to our right, and the barrow pit to our left, my own screams mingled with those of the Iron Chef in a melody that sounded like it belonged in the Monsters Inc Scream Extractor.
Our 13-year-old son — the Odd Number — looked up from his video game to see if anything was more interesting than his video game. He determined that it was not.
We made a new family rule that we would never again travel as a foursome with Her Royal Highness at the wheel, for fear that our genetic material might be chopped up and later stacked by a tractor.
And I determined that my light summer reading would be $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better by the Forbes writer Christopher Steiner.
$20 per gallon can’t come soon enough.