|I have a friend who is eighteen. I know itís hard to believe,
but itís true. She tells me about the perils of tongue piercing and I tell her about the new anti-aging cream
Iím using. Itís all perfectly natural.
Last week we went to lunch together and my friend -- letís call her Mary so I donít embarrass her in front of her
peer group -- was all excited about her new car and the stereo system sheíd had installed. I remember my first
car Ė it was a 1962 Chevy Nova with a push-button start. It had an AM radio that picked up two stations, one country
and western and the other, 24-hour a day hog reports. Sometimes the reception was really bad and you could pick
both stations up at the same time. I swear I once heard a song titled, "My baby left me and my hog futures
are in the toilet." Heck, I was liviní in Abilene, Texas at the time, and thatís was first rate entertainment.
Anyway, after Mary and I finished our lunch, she wanted to show off her car and stereo. I was a little hesitant.
After all, I am over thirty. I got over thirty in my early forties. Now Iím trying to get over thirty-five.
(This concludes the math joke section of this column. Those of you who suffer from a fear of addition may return
As I was saying before I distracted myself, Iím not as young as I used to be. And neither are my ears. Or my
uvula, for that matter. And I know a little something about teenagers and their car stereos. Thereís the 16-year
old who lives in my cul-de-sac and drives an old Cutlass. Every time he passes my house with his music turned
up full blast, all my eggs crack. The ones in the refrigerator. My own eggs, they boogie a while, then they have
to rest for a couple of weeks.
And Iíve driven next to cars full of teenage boys with their hats on backwards, all yelling "Whassup,"
and listening to Eminem or Enema or whoever so loud that my steering wheel starts to vibrate and I can no longer
control the car and smash headlong into them, destroying the forty-two speakers they have in their trunk. Or
at least thatís what I always tell the cops.
So, it was with much fear and trepidation that I headed out to the parking lot with Mary to check out her sound
system. As we walked past my own car, sitting there demurely, inviting me to come inside and listen to Loggins
and Messina played at a volume only dogs can hear, I almost bolted. But I didnít want her to think I was a chicken.
She unlocked the car and I got in. I donít think she saw, but my hand was firmly on the door handle, in case I
needed an emergency ejection from the vehicle. Mary turned on the stereo at a moderate volume at first. Only
loud enough to kill plant life in a 500-ft. radius. Then she asked me if Iíd like to hear the "bass enhancer."
Oh, sure, why not. Iíd love to. Iíd also love to have my dentist perform that gum graft surgery sheís always
talking about. Or have my entire body slathered in barbecue sauce and laid out on the road for vultures to pick
Up the volume went. Up the bass went. The hairs on my neck stood on end . My eyes started to water. My lower
lip began to tremble. My major organs began to beat themselves on my ribs, trying to escape. I could see my
life pass before my eyes. No, wait, it wasnít my life. It seemed to be an episode from Survivor. But I gritted
my teeth Ė the two that are real and hadnít melted Ė and held on. "Donít let her think youíre a wimp!,"
I chided myself. "After all, do you know how hard it is to be cool enough to hang with a teenager?"
Finally, after what seemed like hours, but according to the clock on her dashboard was only 3 seconds, I screamed,
"Turn it off! For the love of god, turn it off!" She didnít hear me. But a swift kick to her freshly-tattooed
ankle did the job.
Itís a week later now and Iíve regained partial hearing in one ear and that nasty facial twitch is almost imperceptible
if I use a darker shade of make-up. But the important thing is, Mary and I are still friends. And next time we
have lunch, Iím going to show her the x-rays of my gums. After all, turnabout is fair play.