The grown-ups were in the front seat smoking a small clump of dirt in tin foil. I rolled my eyes and went back to my Barbies. I figured they’d finally lost their minds and we’d be eating curtains for dinner. Then the cloud of smoke made its way to the back seat and I started feeling uncharacteristically tolerant. This is totally typical when the dirt is actually hash.
Before you go judging, they weren’t passing it to me – I was only 10 and there were rules in our family. We had to be 12. I’m joking. Kids were never allowed to do drugs because we needed to be lucid to roll joints and operate the stereo for the adults. Two very useful party tricks. We could also open beers and safely use lighters. It was basically an apprenticeship for drug-pushing bar tending DJs.
The smoke in our Cadillac cast a mystical spell over the adults. It resulted in a legendary battle of wits that began when the dashboard digital clock struck 4:44pm. The driver, who I’ll call Captain Dickhead because it’s shorter than sea-faring drug-smuggling asshole, called out the time with an air of victory and purpose. He declared himself the clock champion and a genius of sorts for having spotted this remarkable sequence of numbers before anyone else in the car took notice. He sort of bellowed it – the way you’d expect a town crier to proclaim something of vital importance to a community during a time of war, or famine. Let’s note here he was the only person in the car aware that such a competition was under way.
Random outbursts like these were so commonplace I folded myself right into the crazy without blinking. I formally put him on notice that I would be the reigning clock champion of 5:55pm. The challenge was loudly accepted and the clock watching commenced.
A full minute later the lady passenger slowly articulated that she would be the winner first. Here’s why I wasn’t concerned about her late entry: I wasn’t the one holding burning tin foil up to my face while plotting against the current titleholder.
I became the undisputable champion of 5:55pm. This caused Princess Stonerpants to clamor and recommit herself to the cause. She WOULD BE the champion of 6:66pm.
Captain Dickhead and I stared at her blankly. This naturally occurs when someone says something incredibly stupid with their mouth and you can’t tell if they’re kidding. It’s a subconscious pause to give them a chance to revise or retract their statement so you can stay in the relationship. It’s a courtesy really, as well as an obvious demonstration of your commitment.
When it became clear the lady passenger actually believed the clock would strike 6:66pm, and that she would be the first to witness it, we laughed until we almost peed our pants. This amplified her determination considerably. She glared at both of us, and then the following words came out of her very serious face: I’ll bet you $100.
Captain Dickhead stopped laughing and asked if she was sure that bet was a good idea. Her glare hardened. Wounded by his lack of faith in her time-telling abilities, she told him he better take the bet before she doubled or tripled it.
He accepted her wager, and I quietly judged him for leaving $200 on the table.
From 6:55pm to 6:59pm the great clock challenger bragged about how she was going to spend her $100. She barely paused long enough to take breaths. I wedged myself between the two front seats DYING to watch her feeble notions of time unravel.
The clock flashed 7:00pm. Her proud and expectant expression morphed into one of concern, then confusion, and finally horror. Captain Dickhead collapsed into grade school knee-slapping hysteria. “You owe me $100 – hand it over!” The UNchampion berated herself for being so dumb and sank into her seat wilted by defeat.
A solemn hush fell over her but I knew the show wasn’t over.
Two miles later she turned to Captain Dickhead and self-righteously announced, “we never shook on it.”