When Thomas and I first met, we spent hours driving the countryside listening to music, usually Rush or Queen, and talking about important random things, because random things are always important.
As our future unfolded, we went from a young couple enjoying windshield time in a Mustang to hauling around three young girls in the back of a minivan, incessantly asking, “Are we there yet?”
The girls never seemed to appreciate me reminiscing about drives with my family.
“I wish we had a TV in the car,” I said. “It’d be totally tubular if I could watch ‘The Facts of Life.’”
“That’s never going to happen,” my dad said. “Technology like ‘The Jetsons’ isn’t real and won’t be.”
“Read your book,” he said.
“I can’t. It’s dark,” I complained. “I wish books had lights.”
“That’s not going to happen either,” he said, flipping on the radio. “We can listen to some oldies but goodies.”
“I wish I could listen to any song I wanted at any time,” I grumbled.
“Not going to happen.”
So, my dad was wrong, and my kids didn’t appreciate my suffering.
The oldest girls are now in their 20s, and the youngest is on the back end of teenagerhood. Road trips don’t happen as much as they used to. Like all things, they’ve changed, too.
However, over the past six months, Thomas and I have made several trips to Utah. We do the drive in two days, and since he is in the middle of a teaching semester, I do most of the driving while he works.
We’re in a car. Driving over the Rockies. And Thomas is working on his computer. Using flying things orbiting the Earth. Crazy, I tell ya.
As the driver, I get to pick the music. It’s the rule.
And because of current technology, I am untethered from the chains of the radio. I can listen to any song I want. Yay for Spotify!
Our recent trip to Utah had a bit of drama around driving and rules. Not the rules of the road, but those inside the car.
As I was saying goodbye to the puppies, Thomas climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Don’t you have to work?” I asked.
“I do,” he said, “but some windshield time sounds relaxing.”
“So, I get to be queen for the day, and you’re my chauffeur?”
“At least for the first part of the drive,” he said.
“How about I’m still queen for the whole day?”
“The entire day?”
“Fine,” he said. “You’re queen for the day.”
“Yes!” I yelled. “What should we talk about? Wait, as the queen, I get to decide.” And random chatting ensued.
Three hours into the drive, Thomas decided he needed a break from my very important words. “Time for some music,” he said.
“Perfect,” I searched for my “Favorites” playlist on Spotify and rocked out the first couple lines of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” before Thomas interrupted me.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m the driver. I get to pick the songs.”
“Nope,” I smiled. “Remember, you made me queen for the day? Which means I get to pick the songs.”
“That’s not how it works,” he said.
“It kinda is.”
We argued through Bon Jovi, then a fiddle started racing over the speakers.
“No. Way,” Thomas said, pushing skip.
My jaw dropped.
“What did you just do?” I asked.
“We can listen to your playlist, but I draw the line at The Charlie Daniels Band.”
“First, the queen thanks you for agreeing to listen to her playlist, even though it was already mandated,” I said. “Second, how dare you skip that song? That’s MY song!”
“Chill,” he said. “This is a better song anyway.”
“I agree that Taylor Swift is an amazing artist, but you just broke my heart with your disrespect and insensitiveness to MY song.”
“How is that YOUR song?”
“‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ was the No. 1 hit on my seventh birthday, making it MY song!”
“How do you even know that?” Thomas asked.
“Because I took a quiz on Facebook, and it told me.”
“Of course, it did.”
“If you don’t put MY song back on, I’m gonna give the devil a call, and he’s gonna come up to Colorado and look for a soul to steal, and I’m going to make sure he knows it’s yours, cuz you disrespected both the queen and Charlie.”
“You have the devil’s number?”
“In my ‘Favorites’ list in my phone contacts,” I said smugly.
“You know you’re crazy, right?”
“I know I’m the queen and have a direct line to the devil.”
Thomas shook his head, and MY song blared through the car. “Let the air-fiddlin’ begin!” I laughed.
After we listened to Johnny out-fiddle the devil (many, many times), I fiddled on my phone, “Here’s YOUR song,” I said. “It’s out of this world.”
And the Star Wars theme blasted us over the Continental Divide.
See, I can be nice.
Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years here and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.