I know it is late (or early, depending on where you live), but after a day of unending flashbacks, I have to tell you about how we nearly died last night.
My husband, the rocket scientist, is a humble man in many ways, gregarious, kind, and compassionate, but he has a flaw or two (or three, or four): 1) He can be auspiciously flamboyant, 2) He likes to be right, and 3) He turns sixty next month. You cannot softly tell him anything he does not want to hear, or you’ll be accused of yelling at him, even if you whisper.
“Dear, you are about to put salt in your coffee.”
“I know, stop yelling at me.”
He’s extremely sensitive.
You all know how horrible Orlando, Florida can be to drive in. With the traffic, tourists, and old people, you are lucky to make it home alive anytime you dare to go out.
Yesterday we spent a few hours at a car dealership. My husband drives a Mercedes SLK 32 AMG. It’s a sporty little two-seater hard top convertible. He’s been thinking about trading it in. Youth is wasted on the young. The only people driving these cars are 60 year old rocket scientists. This car has a lot of horsepower. God help us if he was twenty.
After a few hours at the dealership, which we were smart enough to walk out of without a new set of keys, we decided to go down the street and dine at a lovely little Greek restaurant. After a delicious meal of phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, dolmades, roast lamb with rich gravy over rice we got on the road to head home.
We’re traveling east on Highway 50, also known as Colonial. For those unfamiliar, this is a seven lane road that cuts across the center of Orlando west to east, parallel to the 408 toll road. It is also one of the busiest roads in three counties. We are approaching the 417 which connects to the 408.
I say to the rocket scientist, “I think you need to turn left before the bridge.”
“I want to go south on the 417, so I turn right,” he says from the far right lane.
“No,” I say as we near the bridge, “You’ll have to turn left. The on ramp does a 180, and then you’ll be headed south.”
“I don’t think so,” he says going even farther over to the right, across the white line. Now we are riding on the paved shoulder to the right of the white line, a hair’s breadth from the ditch. He has his right blinker on. He never slows the vehicle. We are in the fucking median between the road and death, and we are running out of road as we come to the overpass. The light turns red at the intersection ahead of us.
“Honey, you are NOT on the road, you are on the shoulder, there’s a sign twenty feet in front of us.” I say calmly, refusing to scream. “There is not a right turn onto the 417 before the overpass.”
Jerking the car back onto the road to avoid the oncoming sign, speeding under the overpass, he blasts through the red light, starts to turn right against “one way” signs into traffic that is stopped at the intersection preparing to go left from the off ramp of the 417 onto Colonial, suddenly realizes his mistake, veers left, cuts across seven lanes, including three lanes of oncoming traffic which he miraculously weaves through to do a U-Turn that has us going back west in the right lane.
I grabbed ahold to my stomach, doing all that I could to keep the dolmades down.
He says, “I think I go right up here after the bridge.”
“I think you’re right,” I say.
“There should have been a right turn onto the 417 going south.”
“You’re right. But there’s not.”