Okay, so maybe rationalizing all my insanity is kinda a waste of time—but maybe you don’t know what it’s like—hi-IQ kids get a Cassandra complex from constantly warning others of what’s next, being ignored, and watching it come to pass. Day after day I spent trying to point out to people who wanted to ignore me that they’re sawing at the branch from the wrong side. It’s amazing what just a small difference in the ability to extrapolate can make during childhood. Everyone’s supposed to run and trip and fall, make mistakes and learn from them. Getting bored in class waiting for the slow kids to ‘get it’ is nothing compared to being part of a group activity when everyone is ‘trying to do it wrong’.
One Thanksgiving, I tried to hitchhike to Grasslands to visit my old friend, Kevin. I was standing on the shoulder of I-684 south-bound when it began to snow heavily—I gave up on the visiting trip and crossed over to the north-bound lanes—I was soon picked up by a car full of day-trippers. We were zooming along when the driver began to wipe at his windshield (the wipers were worn to nuthin’). And, as people will do, he took his eyes off the road for a little too long. We found ourselves sliding along the shoulder, where the snow had been accumulating much more than the Interstate, and heading for a lightly wooded area off to the side of the highway, ‘skiing’ along on fresh powder.
We smashed past shrubberies and saplings, bumping and thumping, five of us in an old boat of a circa-70s sedan, heading for one of the few older trees’ trunks. We stopped just short of it—but only because we had sheared off one of the more substantial saplings. We all piled out of the car; glad we had avoided a collision. They went to the car’s trunk to find a crowbar, or a shovel, or something—the trunk was full of their shoe-shining equipment, but nothing of use.
We began to push the car back, away from the tree-trunk we had so narrowly stopped in front of, but we didn’t have much traction in the snow and my benefactors weren’t even wearing boots, just dress-shoes—perfect for dancing, but useless in snowy woods. The five of us couldn’t move the car backward so much as an inch! I looked under the car and I could see that the trunk of the sapling we’d sheared off was bent forward and caught on the undercarriage. I tried to point out that this was an impossible situation—that only by lifting this car up (which we couldn’t possibly do) would we ever get it to move backwards.
The big tree made it impossible to go forward. The stump the car was stuck on was strong enough to hold the car back, even had there been ten of us. I saw this as an end to our efforts. But these guys didn’t see it. I joined in the futile attempts to overcome this situation by pushing really hard, but I could feel the car was not moving at all. They were going to keep trying until they succeeded—I knew they would eventually have to get towed. I felt bad, walking away. I always felt obligated, you know? —if someone gives you a ride and then has car trouble, you pitch in—you don’t just walk away to hitch another ride.
But these guys were looking at the facts and couldn’t see it. Perhaps they were worried about not having a valid registration or inspection; maybe it was about bench-warrants—I don’t know, but they were acting like they were on their own, period. And I knew that the five of us simply didn’t have the manpower to extricate their car. It was snowing hard. I walked the shoulder most of the way back to Katonah before another person finally picked me up.
I’ve often wondered how that scenario played out. Maybe I was wrong—maybe they found a way. But I couldn’t see it. And I had to walk away.
To walk away is where I’m bound, play some tunes the long way round