Sunday, June 15, 2008

On the Road but So Not Jack Kerouac

There are consequences to making the wrong choice. You are stricken with hives. You get caught emailing photographs of naked girls in reindeer horns to your senate colleagues. You are pregnant. You are dead. You lose $20 to Uncle Arnold AND there are photographs of you hopping on one foot in leiderhosen in front of assorted relatives while singing God Save the Queen.

Is it any wonder, then, that we treat wrong choices like cockroaches, squelching them underfoot before they can reproduce? I've spent so much time avoiding wrong choices that sometimes life seems like a giant game of Mario Kart: all banana peels and ice and poisonous mushrooms, plus way, way, way too much driving.

I was recently given a choice. It was an unexpected choice, one I should have been grateful to have to make. Yet, when the choice found me halfway across the country, when it ambushed me by telephone as I was peering, sunburned and thirsty, over the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I got mad. I kicked a rock, thought better of kicking rocks, then did a moderate amount of crying. I strapped myself in for a full-on, high-stakes boss round of Mario Kart with sand traps and invincibility and lots of ice.

Did I mention I've never liked Mario Kart?

Seven days later, I made the wrong choice. I made it willfully, in full cognizance of my act. There was, in the end, a freedom to it. It was like fouling out, or putting the moves on the love of your life and then getting shot down. Choosing wrong hurt. But at least I'd taken myself off the track and out of the game.

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