My summertime routine for going to town in the middle of the week, a relatively rare practice, is to drive the Jeep to the county road and then take my ebike the rest of the way. This is, admittedly, a fairly eccentric thing to do even by cedar rat standards. And since I don’t bother hiding the Jeep, it raises occasional comment. It’s perfectly obvious why I do that, and so I’m basically announcing to my tiny corner of the world that Joel Doesn’t Have A Driver’s License.
Nobody speculates aloud in my presence about the reason for that, but I can guess what they’re guessing: Joel must be an unrepentant drunk with some DUIs on his record. In fact that’s not the case: I’ve never driven (very far) drunk in my life and I have no criminal record of any kind. But I’m a little sensitive about drawing attention, even the benevolent kind. I’m also neurotic about any involvement with any woman I don’t know well. My social record proves that I should never trust myself to know how to behave around strange women.
What do those two things have in common? Well…
Yesterday I went to town in the morning to pick up my pistol’s new electronic sight. I went straight there and straight back and I had just finished strapping the bike to the rack when a small sunbleached car pulled up next to the Jeep, from the direction of the desert, with the driver clearly wanting a word.
The driver was an older woman, somewhat weatherbeaten as who wouldn’t be but actually rather attractive. She asked if I wanted a ride to town*, and I replied that I had just come from there but thanks very much.
Then she asked, quite out of the blue, if I wanted her telephone number so that I could call her for a ride in the future if need be.
Alarm bells and klaxons! A list of possibilities was instantly composed, typeset, printed, bound and opened to page one before my mind’s eye:
1) She’s just a nice person who’s being more kind than is really good for her.
2) She’s an obnoxious temperance missionary.
3) She’s looking for a hookup with an unattractive total stranger. (TL/DR: She’s crazy.)
4) She wants something else, TBD but don’t get involved.
Desert folks can be, well, eccentric. Most of the ones I know are perfectly nice people. The ones who aren’t are why I bar my cabin’s doors at night.
I thanked her kindly and said no, I just rode my bike into town for fun. And then we went our separate ways with smiles and waves. I’ll probably never see her again.
And I drove home to play with my pistol’s new sight, wondering very hard what the galloping f*ck was that all about?
*Sidebar: It occurred to me later that this is why I love it here: I had taken off my ‘going to town’ overshirt and so my magnificent cedar rat panoply was naked to the world. I’m a short squat desert hermit in worn dirt-colored clothing with a rag tied around my head and a bunch of aggressive shit strung from my belt, and a woman I’ve never seen before in my life stops unbidden and asks if I want a ride.