Monday, June 07, 2004

SATMATC 5: Ann Arbor in the Morning

Once we crossed the Michigan border, I began to check the map too frequently to feel like we were making any progress. It was that part of the morning where time seems to stop, and headway seems to stop, and I start to get really sleepy. Shea was still in a stoned coma, so I watched the last few towns before Ann Arbor blip by alone.

I punched Shea in the shoulder (actually it was his neck, because he had poor sleeping posture, and I was a bit whacked from driving staring at the taillights of semis 10 feet off our hood all night) when I saw the first exit for Ann Arbor.

Let me backtrack a bit:

I'd been introduced to something called "drafting" by Shea when we first hit the interstate. It's the extremely dangerous practice of riding in the wakes of tractor trailer rigs, which means you have to be really close to their rear ends, which makes them nervous and really keeps you focused on what your life's worth. I spent hours focused on the brake lights of various trucks, because a) you can't see anything but the back of the truck, and b) you've got about half a second to hit YOUR brakes when he finally gets tired of you acting like an idiot behind him and punches his.

But there's something FUN about it that kept me interested. There's a...socket...that you can kind of plug in to. You can feel when you hit it, and with a little bit of heel toe work you can get practically sucked along in the truck's wake. This saves you lots of money on gas, and, if you don't get the shit kicked out of you by a bunch of truckers on speed, makes the drive go by more quickly.

But I can't stress enough how dangerous (and more importantly, rude) the practice is. I've never done it since that trip, mainly because I began to think about what those guys up in front of me were having to deal with, but also because I got a look at a few of them in various truckstops. It just wasn't worth it.

So by the time I eased over into a completely random offramp into Ann Arbor, I was a zombie. And as a zombie, I was about to grapple with the intricacies of the U of Michigan, at 5am.

I had an address. I had infinite confidence in my navigatin' ability, so I'd just sort of blown off the actual directions, and consequently found myself with a useless copilot, a map that was suddenly no good (not having a local map really kicked our ass)...and a rapidly diminishing sense of purpose.

The thing I noticed first was the distinct lack of businesses that were currently accepting customers. Once again, I found myself driving dark streets and a little creeped out by the lack of movement. But hell, all I wanted was a cup of coffee (nothing else would do, which was a bad sign) and a pay phone. I was gonna call my girl, then go collapse in her arms.

Never mind that I hadn't seen this girl in two years, and never mind that we never had any physical contact the last time (let's face it, the ONLY time) I'd actually met her. It was going to happen, because that's the way these things were supposed to work. I was to spend a couple of days salving my libido and my broken heart (remember, please, I was fleeing a fucked up relationship) between the sheets of a beautiful violet eyed girl, then I was gonna take my debonair, drug smuggling ass on out of there, leaving in my wake a train of star struck beauties. Oh, and Shea could smoke them out, if they were into that.

The sun was coming up by the time I finally found a place that was open. It was a sort of Michigan rip-off of Denny's, and there were a few guys who I took to be hunters (at least, they were dressed in lots of flannel) in there drinking coffee and hassling the waitresses. Shea and I ordered breakfast (which I was so amped up on coffee I couldn't eat), and I borrowed their phone (nice folks) to make the phone call.

Now, I wasn't expecting a crowd of nubile hotties to get all party line on my ass right there in Denny's (or Boudreau's, or whatever it was), but I was still shocked by the answer:



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