The atmosphere in the car crackled with hostility. (How is that for a cheesy, spy novel introduction?)
I had just taken over the wheel, prepared to drive the mind-numbingly boring section. The Norwegian Artist, who, per our long understood agreement does the metro stuff and winding mountainous roads, settled in the passenger seat with a pillow.
Tired of Being Youngest and the Son and Heir were sprawled in the back, luggage between them ensuring that no one’s breathing space interfered with another’s. Chips, fruit and cookies abounded so peace should have reigned.
“Nooooooo,” they groaned in unison as I reached for the car stereo. “Not Snow Patrol.”
Not Snow Patrol? It’s all I listen to.
“We know that.”
Did I speak aloud?
While I am the first to admit that I have the amazing ability to listen to the same song, over and over without break, for hours — say, while I’m driving somewhere — I generally do not subject others to this gift, reserving infinite repetition for times when I am alone in the car.
(By the way, not only is this gift highly unusual, it’s also cost effective, because once I find a CD that I like, it stays in the car stereo slot for six months, nine months, a year, meaning that an outlay of some $15 amortizes out to a little over a dollar a month. That’s impressive.)
When I am with others, I am careful to rotate the repertoire, incorporating at least six songs — okay, the same six songs — from the 1-mile mark to the 90. In this 1 1/2 hour segment, this means that the captive passengers in the car will hear each separate song three or four times. I certainly don’t have a problem with that, but apparently they do.
And now, not only do they not want to hear my customized selection of six songs, they don’t want to hear my music at all.
“I wish I had never introduced you to this group,” Tired sighs.
Too late, kid.
“Isn’t there somebody, anybody, anybody else at all, that you like?” the Norwegian asks.
Um . . . no.
“I hear this group in my sleep,” he adds.
This is, literally, true, because generally the Norwegian Artist falls asleep when I drive.
“How about not listening to anything at all?” the Heir rumbles. (It’s hard to believe that, years ago when he was two, he squeaked.)
Look. At. The landscape.
It’s not so much that it resembles a place where you would test the atomic bomb as that it exudes the results of many such tests. The occasional sagebrush shouts out, “Here! Over here! Evidence of life!”
It’s hard to get through mile after mile of this without someone mournfully crooning how much he loves you, how much he misses you, how horrible life is without you, how it’s hard to get up and even put on his socks in the morning.
“This song is depressing,” Tired’s voice emanates from behind a pillow.
No, it’s sensitive, like one out of four members in this car, and because I’m sensitive I’m willing to accommodate my needs and wishes to the whims of others, and for the sake of peace I forego my beloved Snow Patrol for another musical artist. I am, after all, flexible.
“Fine. No Snow Patrol.”
Sighs, groans, whooshes of relief, happy faces all around.
“We’ll listen to Neil Diamond.”
Was it something that I said?