Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dancing with tractors

Halfway through my commute home a couple of days ago, I realized that I had no idea how I’d gotten there. Not in the philosophical “How did I get here?” sense, but more in the “Has the car been driving itself for the past fifteen minutes?” sense. The same phenomenon happens most mornings in the shower, when I’m staring groggily at the shampoo bottle, trying my best to remember whether or not I washed my hair ten seconds ago.

The car seemed to be doing a fine job getting us home all by itself, with nary a phone pole collided into, but I had no recollection of turning onto the main road, stopping at stoplights, switching into the left lane or pulling behind the guy with the “Your proctologist called -- he found your head” bumper sticker.

You have to appreciate a good bumper sticker. The serious ones can be so persuasive, can’t they? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed political affiliations and religious beliefs based on the bumpers stickers I’ve driven behind on the way home from work. Really, if you have a strong opinion, it’s your responsibility to sum it up in seven words or less and stick it on the back of your car. The people who have their minds changed by driving behind you for two minutes, those are the people you want on your side.

I realized that I’d been driving on autopilot when my designated lifetime passenger/wife Kara shook me out of my stupor by yelling, “Ooh, there’s Blockbuster! Let’s stop and see if they have that Antonio Banderas dancing movie!” Though I’m pretty sure Kara has dragged me to every dancing movie that has ever been made, somehow we missed “Take the Lead” in the theater, a breach for which Kara has only recently begun to forgive me.

I was in such a zombie-like state from my day at work, though, that I could only reply, “URRRRGH! NEED BRAINS!” as we sailed past the video store.

Kara hates driving, so her specialty from the shotgun position is announcing her desire to stop at a store once we’re less than three feet from its entrance doing sixty miles per hour, leaving us entering most places of business after half a blink of the turn signal, on two wheels and with pedestrians diving into the bushes. Lucky for me, Antonio Banderas would remain unwatched in our household that night, as the thought of watching him twirl around our TV screen provided me insufficient motivation to pull any death-defying maneuvers to get into the parking lot.

But I’m sure he won’t go unwatched for long. Kara loves dancing movies as much as I loved tractors when I was a little kid. At three years old, life held no greater thrill than driving by the tractor dealership that was a few miles down the road, which had tractors of all different sizes and colors parked out front.

“Twactor! Twactor!” I would shout, pointing to make sure nobody missed out on getting a glimpse of the magnificent machinery. As we passed, I’d twist around in my seat to get one last fleeting look. Those moments were so precious, just like the two seconds of NFL cheerleaders dancing and jiggling about before the cut to commercials.

The look I gave those tractors is the same look Kara gives to movie theaters and video stores that have dancing movies in them. “Dancing movie! Dancing movie!” she’ll shout, pointing as we pass. She’s like a moth to light with those things, especially if that light is a projector beam that is transporting the visuals for a poorly plotted movie in which whole crowds of attractive people spontaneously dance choreographed routines in unison.

You can tell Mike Todd that nobody puts Baby in the corner online at


  1. So, what you're saying is a movie with dancing tractors would get you to take a corner on 2 wheels? I never could understand that driving on autopilot thing and why it happens but I do know that when I've done it - I am scared that I've left a trail of carnage for miles behind me. I have a hard time fathomiong how I can operate without knowing wtf I am doing?

    ps - Nobody puts Baby in a corner.... love that dancing movie!

  2. How would it be if you could write your column the same way?
    Wait ... you don't, do you?

  3. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner"

    That one's on my list of Most Favorite Stupid Movie Quotes Some others are:

    1. Do the chickens have large talons?

    2. It's a big ol frozen chunk a shit.

    3. You know how I know you're gay?

    4. Scotty doesn't know that Fiona and me do it in my van every Sunday

  4. I am the same way with musicals, and the hubby just groans.

    But I do like a good sci-fi, shoot the goo all over the place movie too.

  5. OMGGGGGGGGG I just typed shoot the goo all over the place!!!!

    That is so wrong in so many ways!!!!!

  6. Sheri -- Trail of carnage! Dang, wish I'd thought of that.

    Arthur -- Actually, I write them by smacking the keyboard with a ladle and letting auto-correct take care of the rest.

    melodyann -- 1. Napoleon Dynamite
    2. Crap, I know I know this. Can't think of it.
    3. 40 Year-Old Virgin (bitchin' flick)
    4. I have no idea. So I Married an Axe Murderer? Shrek?

    I really like the Most Favorite Stupid Movie Quotes category. That makes me want to start a complete and total barf-o-rama.

    Burfica -- Ha! I missed that when I read your first comment. I think you're thinking of a different kind of movie.

  7. #2 was Joe Dirt
    #4 was Eurotrip

    Oooh, let's do the barf-o-rama!! I've got a million of 'em. My kids keep buying these stupid movies and memorizing them! Here's another entry:

    "They were savagely ripped apart and eaten by a school of hammerhead sharks..."

  8. Great comments this week.

    "Do chickens ..." reminded me of one my favorite spelling bee moments: (don't we all have some?) when the spelling bee kid, instead of asking to have the word pronounced again or it's meaning, quoted that line imitating Napoleon's voice.

  9. melodayann -- Dude, I just F'ing saw some of Joe Dirt on Comedy Central. I knew I'd heard that somewhere recently. I'm drawing a blank on the hammerhead one, though. That doesn't change the fact that a pile of shit has a thousand eyes. Know that one?

    Buster -- I saw that clip! Tina, you fat lard. Come get some dinner!

  10. Driving on auto-pilot, do it all the time and often wonder how the fuck I just got where I am. Scary shit! Funny to read about someone else doin it too.

  11. You know, I never realized that other people had that "autopilot" thing going on - I guess because of the hour plus commute I have to work each day, my brain knows the route and so it lets me think about all the other things I have to do. Next thing I know, I'm 10 minutes from the house and thinking, "How did I get here already?"

    I agree with Saffron - scary!

    AND FOR EVERYONE OUT THERE - Mike has seen that dancing movie, and he cried at the end.

  12. I knew I liked Kara for some reason! I NEVER miss a dancing movie either! I've seen the one with Antonio -- and I promise not to spoil it for you. But I will say he is one fine-looking piece of humanity!

    On the zoning out thing... just the other morning, I forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair... I didn't even realize it until I turned on the hair dryer and reached up to tousle my locks... EWWWWWWWWWW! I'm on the road all the time and I often find myself in places I had no intention of visiting. Scary shit!