ENJOY THE RIDE

I knew I had turned down the wrong road when I hit the first pothole. The street that led to my girlfriend’s house was paved and smooth, so the hard thump of the tire (which mirrored a gunshot) along with my head soaring into the roof made me aware that I had gone the wrong way.

After striking the pothole, I thought the car might collapse. But it rolled along, and I quickly wondered where I was headed. But that question paled in comparison to the next ones. 

Why couldn’t I stop the car? Why couldn’t I turn the wheel and double back? I lifted my foot from the gas, but the pedal remained down and maintained a steady 45 miles per hour down this unfamiliar road. The brakes locked when I pressed down.

I hit the door locks and pushed the window button. Nothing. Cranking up the volume on the radio, I expected some strange voice to appear and tell me I was in some sort of hidden camera reality show.

The radio simply played music. Old music. Songs that sounded as if they were from the mid-1900s. I pressed the buttons, and the channel remained stuck on the vintage tunes. 

When my focus returned to the road, a sign ahead caught my eye.

Just enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.

“What does that mean?” I muttered to myself.

I pulled out my phone and prepared to dial. Unsurprisingly, there was no signal. I tried every app, but nothing worked. After a minute of pressing the buttons, the screen went black… until a message popped up:

Just enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.

I tossed the phone onto the passenger seat, and the screen faded to black. My heart pounding, I turned to look at the road ahead. It seemed endless. The car hit several more potholes but powered through without slowing down. The speedometer remained at 45 and didn’t waver from that number, even during the bumps.

“Enjoy the ride. All right. Let’s see where this goes,” I said and cranked up the radio. The vintage songs continued, only now I recognized the singer – Bing Crosby. I couldn’t put my finger on the title, but when it ended, another familiar voice echoed through the car. Perry Como sang “Till the End of Time.” That did little to settle my nerves.

I took in the remainder of the song, but once this one ended, another did not begin. Instead, the station’s DJ broke in.

“We hope you are enjoying these top hits … from 1945,” he bellowed. “This countdown will continue momentarily, so just enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.” Following his announcement, the station was engulfed by an advertisement for Colgate Shampoo. By the sound of the narrator, this too originated long ago. 

“It’s from 1945,” I said without even realizing I was speaking. The car was locked in at 45 miles per hour. The station was fixated on the year 1945. My age… 45 years old. 

I had been questioning mortality as of late. Trying to look at age as just a number no longer worked. I kept myself in shape, but as the body ages, there’s no getting around the aches and pains that creep up. Not to mention, it had been a rough twelve months. 

A rocky road, if you will.

Just enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.

The radio DJ’s words lurked in my head. It will be over before you know it. What will be over?

I closed my eyes, and my mind wandered. My girlfriend’s voice entered my head. “Your birthday is coming up!” I remembered the excitement when explaining the party she planned for me. “46 will be your year.” She always knew how to make things better. 

When I opened my eyes, my car was sitting in her driveway. She raced from her front door and to the car window. 

“Happy birthday, love! Did you enjoy your ride? I told you, 45 will be over before you know it. Here’s to a wonderful new year!”