May 2005

Lookin' cool and feelin' groovy

By Suzanne Strazza

I am so cool. Really.

No, really.

I listen to awesome music and sing along exceptionally well. I look great. My hair, my clothes, my accessories are so ultimately hip. I am funny – hysterical to be exact. I’m insightful and intelligent – obviously ultra-sensitive to the plight of others.

I am very, very talented – a writer, teacher, public speaker. And, I am good enough on the tambourine to consider going on tour with Emmylou. The roll of fat around my middle has miraculously disappeared, my legs lengthen and my voice has taken on a sexy, husky tone.

Did I mention tall, beautiful and a phenomenal singer? True Rock Star Material.

Then, I get out of my car.

This happens to me every morning as I drive to work. I don my green suede driving gloves, slip in a Stevie Wonder or Emmylou Harris CD and sing and jig all the way to Cortez. The glimpse I catch of the upper right corner of my right eye assures me that I am terrific. I imagine that I am in a red vintage Ford truck (Emmylou) or a slick convertible pimpmobile (Stevie). I slide right through the students’ morning hangout and park, only to get out and have the reality of my life set in.

I drive a total mom car: dirty car seats, wipies and all. I don’t listen to hip-hop and not one stitch of my clothing says “Choppers.” Plus, as I get out of the vehicle still singing my heart out, I notice that many of the kids are fleeing in agony, hands over their ears, screaming, “STOP, PLEASE!!” Suddenly everything witty that I thought to say when I got to work sounds trite and over-rehearsed.

Why is it that cars create such a safe cocoon?

My car is my sheltered imaginary world where anything is possible and I am perfect. I mean, honestly, my car is not special; I drive the same thing that the majority of Durangoans drive. But what it does for my mental well-being is miraculous. We all know that the acoustics in a car are better and that’s why we all become professional, unabashed crooners, but somehow, everything is better in a car (get your mind out of the gutter).

Maybe this is why Americans are so attached to their automobiles – they want to feel that thing they feel inside of their car. It’s like the door to the outside world closes and you can be anything that you’ve always dreamed of.

The amazing thing is that the car doesn’t even have to be moving for it to happen – I’ve known folks who just go sit in their vehicles in their driveway from time to time, just to get that fix.

When I get into the car, often I do not have kids with me and I know that is part of the appeal. There is no one to talk to me, ask anything of me or demand that I change the CD. I also associate driving with road trips – ultimate freedom. My car is my chariot. I can imagine myself single and unencumbered. I do my best writing (or thinking about writing) in the car. I plan gourmet dinners and redesign my house.

I think of all of those great (missed) comebacks while driving.

Sometimes when I am sad, I sit in the car – it’s like a safe cocoon that wraps itself around me. Plus, no one can find me if I’m lying down in the back seat, hiding.

When I was little, I begged my parents to let me sleep in the car, enshrouded in a capsule of squishy seats and leather smell. They thought it was a bit weird, but occasionally indulged me.

Am I embarrassing myself talking about this? I have a feeling that I am and that many of you are thinking that I am a bit ridiculous right now.

But, before you laugh, go for a drive (or just go sit). Turn on the music, sing a little, hang one arm out the window while you steer with the other, outstretched, your head tilted to the side . . .

Now tell me, don’t you feel cool?

Suzanne Strazza is a totally normal, well-adjusted person living in Mancos.