First, we ran into my cousin Chad and his wife Heather. They were just getting their tickets to Transformers when we ran into them. After talking to them for a few minutes, we finally convinced them to exchange their tickets and go see Ratatouille (hands down this summer's best movie). Good thing, because it was Heather's birthday movie. I quote Timmy on just how good Ratatouille really is: "Magnifique!" (If you haven't seen this latest Pixar masterpiece yet, call me. I WILL go with you. (You might have to pay, though, as my cash flow has been...interrupted for a little bit.))
After soaking up the Digital Experience that was Harry Potter V, Timmy and I started to head towards the Exits. From below I hear a muffled "Eric Vogeler!" and looked to see one of my favorite families: The Thorntons! Rick and Sue, John and Barb, Mark and Chelsea (and I think I saw a couple more, but only in the periphery). There were hugs all around, because let's face it, I'm a hugger, and we chatted Harry for about 10 minutes. And let me tell you, it was serious. There was heavy debate as to Harry's fate in Book VII, Dumbledore's ultimate demise(?), and Snape's actual loyalties/disposition (my opinion: he's a good guy!) It's fun to know that Geek is Chique now, legitimizing much of my childhood and/or literary choices. For everyone who laughed at me when I was reading The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia when I was at Bonneville Elementary, I have only one thing to say: 1 Trillion Dollars!!! (That's my ballpark figure of the combined earnings of their movie counterparts). That's a lot of money.
Finally, after saying our goodbyes to the Thorntons and wending our way through Gateway's basement parking cellar (approx. temperature: hell), Timmy and I took "The Van" home. The Van, our burgundy red, 1987 Dodge Caravan (with faux wood paneling!) has been called many things over her 20-year lifespan--"The Love Wagon," and "Big Red" being some of my favorites--but usually, she's just referred to as The Van. Below is a photo of The Van's cousin, "Whitey": Now, as you can guess, a 20-year-old Dodge Caravan has it's problems. The air conditioning ceased to work about 5 years ago; the brakes sometimes choose, at very inconvenient times, to freeze up; and the transmission had to be replaced about 4 years ago to "save its life," I believe is what the mechanic said. (It's when you hear these things about a car that you really wonder why euthanasia isn't more popular in our culture. But I digress...)
Anyway, as old and beatup as the Van is, she's still got it where it counts--under the hood. She's a V6 Vixen, and she can hold her own at the line. So when Timmy and I came bouncin' up in her at 8th South and State Street talkin' Dumbledore vs Voldemort, you can only wonder what the guy next to us thought about the two 20-something guys whose ride could seat a little league soccer team. To our credit, we were blasting the Cranberries' "Linger," our windows were down (no AC, remember?), and the guy to our side was covered in tats and driving a 1980s Ford Bronco. I looked over at him from the passenger seat, gave him the two fingered "What's up?" salute. Timmy said "Shall we?" to which I responded "We shall," and as soon as the light turned green, Timmy gunned it. The Van leapt off the line, and screamed up 8th South to...2nd East, where we had to stop short at another red light.
Alright, so now Bronco knows what game we're playin. I'm gettin' a little nervous, but Timmy's calm as a summer evening--"She's still got it, brother. Don't worry!" he said, gently stroking the dashboard, as if to calm the mighty steed that is our Caravan. Up rolls the Bronco. We don't look at the guy, but we can feel him there on the side. By this time, we're at the climax of "Linger," and Dolores O'Riordan is crooning "You know I’m such a fool for you...You got me wrapped around your finger...." and before she could sing "Do you have to let it linger" we were off again. Timmy and I both bellow "VROOOOOM!" as if it will help. I swear to you now, it did. We peal out and immediately begin to revel in our victory once more, as we rocket up 8th South, singing along at the top of our lungs "Do you have to, do you have to, Do you have to let it linger!" The Van gets a nice rub on the dashboard, and we're feelin pretty proud, when...
...we have to stop again at 4th East. By now, we're giggling like sophomore boys, and wondering when the traffic gods will respect our awesome power. But, wouldn't you know it, up chugs the Bronco. This is too much, I'm thinking, this guy is gonna get pissed off! We can't look over, because we're guffawing now, and just hoping that the light turns green quickly when, and I kid you not, Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" comes on. While that may be a great song at any other time, it's not quite what you'd expect at a muscle car standoff. But for us, it was perfect. I raise my left hand up, look over at Timmy and say "Let's do it, brother." He grabs my hand, looks me in the eyes and in a Peter and Nathan Petrelli moment says, "I love you, brother." And off we fly... to Somewhere Only We Know. (Home, really.)
Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on.
So, tell me when you gonna let me in,
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin.
So if you have a minute why don't we go,
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
That song never held more meaning than it did that night, on that street, in that Van. Magical, isn't it?