I’m furrowed. Because I want to feign seriousness. Solemnity. It’s the face of a comedian trying not to rush through to the zinger. I wear it well.
I’m with my family. Wife and son. We’re driving, on one of our road trips that define our marriage and my son’s childhood, save a brief six month hiatus caused by a trantruming toddler who equated the car seat with an electric chair. I couldn’t blame him. Thankfully, the phase passed and pavement could be traversed again together.
Back to my stare. I tell Colette, “Only use Sport Mode in an emergency,” looking her in the eye. “It’s far too powerful to use in everyday situations,” I deadpan.
Our family vehicle is an SUV. My son calls it the “owanj caw” due its foxtail burnt orange hue. It would have been badass to get it in manual, but since I can’t drive (stick), I got the all wheel drive with automatic. Automatic with “Sport Mode” that is. You see, you can “shift” into it, even with an automatic, with a subtle flick of the wrist. It even lights up “Sport” on the dash when engaged. It all seems rather silly, but I love it. Apparently, Sport Mode stays in gear longer, allowing for a more racy, spirited, ride. I never let a silly opportunity go unsillied.
I continue, “You and I should never, ever, use Sport Mode unless life and limb are at stake.” Colette looks at me like I’m a puppy trying to catch its tail. An almost adoring compassion at how dumb I’m being. It’s a look I know well.
We’re at a light now. The first car. Head of the pack. I’m coiled with potential energy. When the light glows emerald, I’m ready for it. With a casual yet, dare I say, flamboyant, flick of my right wrist, I engage the mode of sport and hit the gas a tad harder than necessary.
“I thought you said never to engage Sport Mode unless in emergencies,” Colette offers, humoring my ridiculousness.
“Oh you didn’t see?” I say, motioning my head up, left, and back. “Car full of gangbangers next to us at the light. I just saved our lives.”
She waits for me to finish.
Waits for the punchline. I deliver it.
My eyes never veer from the road. I’m gazing maybe a bit too dramatically at the cinematic, maybe hypothetical, horizon, brow still furrowed, but now with a hint of satisfied smugness. I’m very pleased with myself.
I can feel Colette’s eyes on me, as she shakes her head and starts to talk to Asher, cooing and singing to him as a way to change the subject.
I see my boy in the rearview, intent in his book. Eyes familiarly furrowed but in deep focus, thirstily drinking in what used to be images and shapes which are now animals, letters and words.
I look around, making sure the coast is clear. Seeing all is well, and with gratitude, the deepest of it, I shift out of Sport Mode.
Colette giggles at the thunk of the shifter. Which makes Asher giggle. Which makes us all giggle.
“Appa is silly, Asher.” My wife explains.
“Appa silly!” He echoes in agreement.
We drive. My hand still on the shifter, Colette warmly covers it with her own. And suddenly my furrow is gone.
Replaced with a silly smile.
How I love our road trips.