Cartouche's Blog

Writing My Way Out of Something


Someplace, somewhere else, USA
February 09
Mind My Own Business
Artist, former newspaper columnist and restaurant critic. Award-winning author of "In Pursuit of Excellence". In my spare minute I can be found blogging here, on Huffington Post and other places that don't pay and (more often) writing for some places that do. Occasionally I tweet random thoughts and observations as @nonconfromist. I keep the really good ones to myself.


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 18, 2010 8:28AM

Drive By (and Through) Memories

Rate: 63 Flag

We are on our way to Washington D.C. riding in the Buick Skylark.  You are determined to get our family there in the fastest possible time.  You drive on the service road when the traffic moves too slowly for you.  There are no “rest” or bathroom stops or breaks for food. 

My brother, sister and I shift from side to side in the backseat as you move forward at the speed of light.  No seat belts to keep us secured as you maneuver the car at 90 mph with your knees so you can cut Hungarian kielbasa with a knife while eating and driving at the same time.  My sister and I have to pee.  You are angry and pull over to the side of the road so we can relieve ourselves as we waste three precious minutes of your record-breaking time. 

I am mortified.


I haven’t seen you in ten years.  Your mother used to drive in the figure skating carpool and her vehicle always looked and felt like a dumpster turned inside out.  The foul odor is a combination of milk turned sour, spoiled food and unwashed hair.  You pick me up to go out for lunch and I realize that you inherited her same sense of décor and lack of hygiene.

I am embarrassed.



You hand me the keys and tell me I’m going to drive.  It’s a brand new Corvette with less than 100 miles on its odometer.  The sleek, red car rides low and the gas pedal responds to my foot with incredible sensitivity, like men will later respond to my mouth.  Everything about being in that car accelerates my heart.  I feel like a million, sexy bucks.

I am too young.



We are driving on a freeway in Tampa, going to see some concert.  There are five of us.  It begins to rain.  Hard.  The steam rises from the pavement and through the haze, I see the oil and water, unable to mix.  A motorcycle comes up behind us, fast, and then passes us, closely.  I tell you to get over to the shoulder.  I see, no, I feel the accident before it happens.  The motorcycle starts quivering, unable to compete with the slick road, incapable of avoiding the 18-wheeler that is sucking it under its belly with its centrifugal force.

I am paralyzed by the fear of my own knowing.



We renew our friendship after my return from being away in school in London.  We have both changed.  You are the first round of “crazy” I will witness or deal with in my life, but certainly not the last.  We agree to go out disco dancing.  We get on that same freeway I have avoided since the motorcycle incident and the memory of that, combined with the voices that start speaking from your head makes me ponder my escape as I clutch the door handle and negotiate with one of you to save both of our lives. 

We arrive at the disco and I know there is no turning back.  It costs me the equivalent of one month of my college spending money to hire a cab so I can return home alive.  The next day I learn that a few hours after I left you, you vaulted your car off the Courtney Campbell Causeway and careened into the Gulf of Mexico.

I am traumatized.



It is bitter cold and London is filled with hard-as-rock snow.  I have flown in for Chris and Trina’s wedding.  Enough years have past since you broke my heart and even though you are in the driver’s seat, I am finally in control.  Different year, different Jaguar, different me.  You haven’t been feeling well and we learn together that you have aggressive MS.  You pull up near Harrods and ask me to listen to a song.  You hit “play” and I hear Placido Domingo and John Denver sing “Perhaps Love”, as if they had written it for you, for me.   I openly weep and understand that this is the closest thing to an apology or an explanation I will ever receive and that there’s no time like the present.  The future has no guarantees.

I am broken-hearted.  Again.



We are in the parking lot of the super market.  In the harsh glare of the sun and potential passersby, you reach for me.  You kiss me hungrily, like no other man ever has or ever will.  Your hands roam freely and I allow them to meander, as if you are reading the map of my body in Braille.  I whimper and moan from your touch.  I live for these stolen moments and wish that time could stand still.  But the meter of life says otherwise.  We live on opposite ends of the earth and are parked elsewhere in our lives.

I am driven crazy.  By love.

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Great mental snapshots of being in cars. Whole stories told so tightly. R
Thank goodness you never had to ride in a Studebaker. ;)
My god.. this sounds like my life.. Only I did not plunge in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bravo and rated with hugs
Awesome in scope and theme, scary and sexy - both at once. I'm blushing a little!
Powerful story, P. I know what has awakened the memory. I am in a half-crazed place myself just now. Will talk when I am able...
driving through memories without a collision? perhaps destiny is a poor driver.
And you drive me crazy because I wish I could write as well as you, cartouche! I'm so glad you're back.
Wow! Powerful story. I don't know if I am sad or happy for you. Which one should I be? R
Vivid, and heart gripping. The riding in the car metaphor is an excellent vehicle, pun intended. This post made me remember the day I bought my first car, my choice of car, with my own money, and drove it out of the dealer lot, and went all the way to Providence RI, with the stereo turned up to eleven turning around and heading home. I've bought my own cars ever since. I'm the one who shifts that transmission into sixth gear.
Cartouche - when it comes to writing, you've got a fast car. Most excellent.
Wow. Really tight story telling. Really well done. I'm still reeling a little.
" are the first round of crazy..." I so understand this. Beautifully written.
Thanks for driving in (or through). I have to get in the car myself right now and see what kind of trouble or adventure awaits me....
So well told. You created a movie in my head.
Quite the wild ride!
There's some real auto-eroticism in that story. Well-written, as always.
You leave me breathless, as always.

Those stolen moments are always the most delicious...
man, are you good. I feel like a witnessed an entire life.
Such power and passion in your words. Cars and speed and drivers who drive to terrify me hold me still as my breath stops as I read.
Suddenly I'm transported from my desk to the steamy interior of the car, the passenger door open, the dome light on. I can almost hear windshield wipers, and the hiss of rain off the tarmac.
Your work always leaves me speechless.
So much of our lives are taken up with driving, it almost becomes a life of its own. And you have captured every nuance of that multi-faceted highway life with elegance.
This is probably the most well written post I have read for a long time. R
Cartouche, Damn "meter of life." So right, 'The future has no guarantees", though some seem more feasible than others. And, "as if you are reading the map of my body in Braille." When true love has this physical manifestation it can drive you crazy, but it feels so good!
Fabulous writing! I've missed you, Cartouche!
*blushing* *blushing*
just wow
baby you can drive my car
You know that skin graft you had that maybe made us sisters? No maybe about it. Except your writing is far more nuanced and extraordinary. This one is you at your heart-stopping, heartrending best.
You are truly a great writer. r
Oh my, now I am breathless. :)

Lubricants are the lifeblood of a car...

My heart is upheaved already, P, this didn't help it. Such good writing should be kept for a more stable time to be relished. I'll read it again later. Rated.
Just wow, wow so strong, visual, real..
Whoa. This is powerful, elegant, touching, and two or thee hundred other adjectives that I don't have room to put down here. This is one your best and that's saying a lot.
You have me thinking about my own history of cars and relationships. Loved that you shared yours.
Intriguing piece, cartouche, beautiful writing. R
Wow.....intense....intriguing....yet beautiful....well done!
John Denver!!! How could you ruin a perfectly good story by including John Denver?
This is so damned well-written. In awe. I drove btw, a vette for ten minutes. R.
it's a little scary to admit that i get the whole guy/sex/car thing. what is that, do you think? great piece, all the trauma and drama and conflict and love, all mixed together in great writing. yum.
This was such a clever way to map out your travels through life. It's all so true; sometimes you're speeding and sometimes it's a cruise.
Thanks for sharing this article...Love it!
Cabin Rentals
Crazy cool wild sad unsentimental pain. Loved the writing.
Excellent story. Felt like I was there with you.
Riding with boys in cars, those were the good ole days. Nice stuff Cartouche. I had a 64 Rambler Classic with a fold down front bench seat. Loved that car. Be well my friend..........o/e **R**
Wild emotions Flying down the road, with painfully urgent Love, Sex, music and mechanical torque. Gorgeous.
Great writing. Great story. R
You and Chuck Stetson are the Poet Laureates of OS... hands down!
Reminds' me of my friend, Matt Ryan's song, "Cars and History."

Clever, erotic, Glad I didn't miss it.
Gasp! Not that you need it, but - this is my last read before going to bed - I'm going to log out, then log back in as Clark and rate this again...
lovely...each one to itself and as a whole with a common thread...the structure of this is fabulous.
"I live for these stolen moments and wish that time could stand still. But the meter of life says otherwise. We live on opposite ends of the earth and are parked elsewhere in our lives."

Okay...I surrender. You're incredible. I genuflect at your feet...sigh...
High drama. The absence of dialogue works. Just action and emotion, super-charged. Very nice.