precipitation is expected
(originally posted 6/24/2102)
Although Jimmy was late he couldn’t help but slow down a bit and look upwards. He had been fidgeting with the radio in his Lexus SC09 in a futile effort to find a song worth listening to but seeing the weather he was driving into it was time to put the top up.
He owned a couple of businesses that made trophies and he was running a bit behind in getting to one of them and opening it up for business.
And business was good.
It seemed the harder times got the more people wants a dollars worth of plastic to remind them that their son finished 5th in the spelling bee. In fact, business was booming. There didn’t seem to be anything going on that didn’t somehow involve somebody, or almost everybody, or everybody, getting a trophy. Jimmy laughed to himself and felt a momentary flash of embarrassment on behalf of the whole human race.
The clouds ahead of him looked foreboding.
An enormous shadow stretching from east to west. As he got closer he could see the dark ripples and the cloud alternated between blue and a purple that was half velvet and half bruise.
Trophies started out reflecting victories in war. The word came from the Greek tropaion which itself is derived from the verb troupe, meaning “to rout”. You had to know these things if you were going to be a hit at the yearly trophy manufacturers convention. Inscribed with the details of the battle these magnificent trophies would be dedicated to the victors and their gods. Often constructed with columns and arches atop a foundation it was considered sacrilege to destroy one.
With the car top now up Jimmy was free to examine the cloud even further. He drove until he was directly under it and for a second it looked as though the world was upside down and the ocean hung over him. He felt himself get lightheaded as the first few drops of rain hit his windshield. The first few drops that had escaped this gravitational cock-up and made their way up to his car.
He could see the waves moving above him. He could almost hear their crashing and as if on cue a small group of seagulls flew under him and he strained to see if they were upside down or right side up.
As early as the late 1600s people began to give trophies to the winners of sporting events. A short 300 years later, with the advent of plastics, Jimmy was hard-pressed to think of any occasion that didn’t end with the distribution of metallic colored figurines to everybody involved. He knew all there was to know about how the hot-stamp metallic foils are pressed into the columnar shafts to give these figures their color but he was always at a loss as to why they were handed out in the first place.
His specialties was gypsum, marble and wood. He would leave the other stuff to the sociologists and the shrinks.
The light washing over his car and creeping under the ocean was yellow and green and the rain continued to be light as if teasing everybody underneath the mighty cloud a little while longer. The rain came straight down and there wasn’t even a hint of a breeze. It was though the whole world and the laws of physics all held their breath until Jimmy could figure it out.
So stone trophies have been replaced with imitation marble and holographs, why should he care? If Jimmy was the recipient of some cosmic stroke of luck that would have his 4.3-Liter V-8 paid for by a culture’s slipping self-esteem then it was ok by him.
He glanced quickly ahead to make sure that he wasn’t going to drive into the wrong lane or some Boy Scout helping some old lady across the street but he was still clearly between the dotted lines and the streets were completely uncluttered by both Boy Scouts and old ladies. In fact, they were deserted.
Forgetting the sky a moment his attention returned to the radio.
A song he hadn’t heard in years by Tom Waits that didn’t quite come in enough to put up with the static. Something about “and the northern portions of my ability to deal rationally with my disconcerted precarious emotional situation”. Too bad he wasn’t in range of the station.
REO Speedwagon whining about “My lady’s beside me. She’s there to guide me. She says that alone we’ve finally found our home.” Jimmy had heard that they were out on tour again after about 50 years. He snorted and quickly gave the tuner a violent twist to the right.
Creedence was in mid-sentence “I know, been that way for all my time. Til forever, on it goes through the circle, fast and slow, I know; it can’t stop” when Jimmy’s tuning hand barreled right past them.
He could feel the rain up ahead now. It was like a not-so-distant fog whose tendrils he knew were only moments away from embracing him and he accelerated towards it.
Suddenly he heard Billy’s guitar screaming out. He turned it up louder and the drums sounded like thunder. Finally Ian’s voice rang out. He gunned the engine.
“I’ve been waiting… for her… for so long…”
He knew that if he had his way every man, woman and child would be waist deep in plastic trophies by the time they turned 40. Medals and placards telling them how wonderful they were and what amazing feats they had accomplished. Celebrations of mediocrity and the mundane.
One last look upwards to the purple ocean hanging above him before he lost himself in The Cult as he’d done so many times since college.
Then the sky opened up. It was as if gravity had finally caught on and had pulled the clouds down in one violent motion. As if it were embarrassed for not having caught it earlier. Even Noah would have been like “Holy shit, that’s a lot of water!”
Typically Jimmy liked to turn off the wipers early and leave the last few drops to dry on his windshield like so many tears. He didn’t think he’d get the chance this time. It was like driving through a car wash.
As he clutched the wheel tightly Jimmy somehow knew that it was going to be a pointless exercise to look back when it was finally over and hope to see a rainbow.
He did anyway.