Song Of The Day 8/6/2015: Carrie Underwood – “Jesus Take the Wheel”

Week of Lies – We left Redondo Beach at 10:15 this morning. We were supposed to get to the fairgrounds in San Bernardino by noon. It’s now a quarter to three. We’re outside Barstow. Before you check Google Maps, let me inform you that’s seventy miles away from San Bernardino. Seventy long, sweaty, country-radio-choked miles.

Mr. Beatitude in the passenger seat? His facial expression hasn’t changed once this whole time. Gazes out the window, eyes full of calm and childlike wonder, a closed-lip, very slight smile. He waves every time we pass one of those side-of-the-road produce stands.

I, on the other hand, am ready to clock this guy in the chops. But I can’t. He’s the Prince Of Peace. Even if I could bring myself to punch Him, all He’d do is turn His face and say, “Make it even. Both sides.” Then He’d look back outside the window and try to bring another pile of roadkill possum back to life.

I can’t even argue with Him. “You know,” I say, “looking back on my series of decisions this morning, I’m beginning to think I really should have stood behind my original inclination to keep the GPS turned on. Just in retrospect. I know hindsight’s 20/20 and all that, but… yeah, no offense, but that’s one particular juncture where I probably should have said that I appreciated Your input, but I’m think I’m going to stick to my original impulse here and go with what I know. You know?”

He shrugs. “Often, mankind sacrifices insight for the sake of practicality. Decisions of great calamity are usually made in moments of haste.”

Who’s this guy, Ben Franklin? “That’s got nothing to do with it. This was planned. We had a route, we had a buffer zone in terms of time, we would have had plenty of time for You to sit back there and make lovey-dovey faces at literally everybody who's selling strawberries. We just needed to execute. And hey... look, nobody hates blasphemy more than me, but this might've been one of those times when Your saying 'Let the spirit guide you' might have been... you know, kind of an under-diagnosis, right? Now we’re four and a half hours into this bad Kerouac novel, and that much further away from a Renaissance Faire that You wanted to go to.”

“I like the costumes they wear. They’re very futuristic.” He giggles.

“Ha-ha. Look, why don’t You just dial back on the homilies and let me find a road sign, all right?”

“Hey, don’t look at me. I told you to take the crooked path.”

“Please, for the love of – for Pete’s sake, just stop it with the one-liners,” I beg Him. “I don’t read Your stuff, You know that. And what I wouldn’t give to be in a part of California that has something other than country on the flippin’ radio!”

He glances at me with a look in His eye. What kind of look? Peaceful and becalmed. That’s what kind of look it is.

“I understand. Listen, why don’t you turn the radio to… 103.9, let’s say. There’s different music there.”

I flip the dial. It’s Beyoncé doing “Single Ladies.” I turn to Him, a little curious. He smiles, raises His hand, turns it like in the video. Cute.

Whatever. I shake my head and turn back to the road. Beyoncé sings.
Up in the club, we just broke up
I’m doing my own little thing
Decided to dip and now you wanna trip 
’Cause another brother noticed me
You should calm down, we’re rolling on the ground
Goin’ to Bernardino 
Men wearin’ tights, dukes and knights 
We’ll get a turkey leg
All the Rennie Fairies, all the Rennie Fairies 
All the Rennie Fairies, all the Rennie Fairies
I pound on the horn. “STOP IT!

He cracks up. “Ha-ha-ha! That was a surprise, wasn’t it? What do you all call that – a ‘remix,’ I believe?”

“What is with You?? How exactly is it that You let things like genocide and climate change go unchecked, then get Your kicks messing with my pop songs? Don’t You have a to-do list somewhere? Why don’t You try prioritizing just the littlest bit?”

His face grows neutral. Shoot. I hate it when He does that. Vexing as His little practical jokes can be, I don’t enjoy the feeling that I’ve hit Him where it hurts.

“Ah, come on,” I say. “I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry.”

He smiles a bit. “That’s okay. You’re forgiven.”

“Thanks. Coming from You, that means a lot.”

“Backatcha. Listen, how about we take a shortcut and –”

The engine buckles, clicks, then lurches with a violent jerk. We both get rocked in our seats. The car starts swerving, the thermometer on the dash starts peaking. Smoke pours out of the gaps in the hood. Semis in the opposing lane honk as we nick them in the sides. I’m terrified.

“What the – HEY!

He’s calm, of course, but obviously worried. Now it’s getting hot inside the car. I try to pull off to the side of the road, but I can’t get the steering wheel under control. Something happened. The engine feels like it’s about to burst into flame. I remember the pit stop we made a few miles back.

“Hey! Hey!! Didn’t I ask You to top off the coolant at the AM/PM?”

“I did! When you went inside the store!”

“Did You fill it up like I said?? Prestone and water??”

“Yes! I did! First I put in the Prestone, then I got the hose and put in the wa…”

I can’t look at Him, but I hear His voice stop, and I can almost feel His face turning downward.

“What?? What were You saying?”

Now I have to look at Him. He’s looking down at His sandals.

“Uh-oh.”

What is it? What did You put in the engine coolant??

“Yeah… I just… um…”

The car swerves onto the shoulder, and finally I find an empty patch on the side of the road level enough for me to pull off onto. I crank the emergency brake and the car stops, smoke and sparks shooting out from underneath the hood. I kill the engine.

I regain my breath. “Okay,” I say, forcing calm, “I’m going to go out there… and open the hood. Would You be able to confirm that I’ll be safe in doing so?”

He takes a deep sigh. “Yeah,” He says.

I level a direct, yet somehow still tempered glare at Him. “Okay, then.” I hit the latch for the hood; it cracks open and lets out a massive amount of steam. I grab a towel out of the back seat, open the door and walk to the front of the car. He’s looking sheepish and embarrassed. I lift the hood.

The engine’s stopped, so the steam is fizzling out, but the chassis is caked in a viscous, sticky red film. I check the coolant. The liquid’s a very unappetizing dark brown shade. I dab my index finger on a side of the car frame that’s covered in the sticky stuff but is cool enough to touch. The substance left over is a grainy, dark red.

I walk around to His side of the car. His window’s down. He looks up at me with a half-smile of moderate mortification.

“Hey,” I say like a parent trying to over-compensate for his rage with almost condescending niceness, “could You tell me what this might be?”

He moves His hangdog eyes up to mine and offers the most perfectly apologetic smile you’ll ever see. “Um… I think it’s a... ’73 Merlot?”

I take a sec to survey the wide open spaces surrounding me at that moment, taking note of the total lack of vertical structures protruding from the ground. I decide in a flash that it is, after all, the perfect time and place for me to let out a psychotic, blood-curdling scream. I figure I get a good forty-five seconds of pure rage out of it. I might have even gone the full sixty. I don’t know. It’s hard to keep track of time in those moments when you’re realizing how many tens of thousands of dollars you’re about to spend in car repairs because the Deity you happened to be traveling with took momentary leave of His recall of what can happen when He gets around water.

Could’ve been worse. It could have been Chablis.


Of course He fixes it, because that’s what He does. When I’m done screaming I turn around and the car’s not only completely repaired, but He’s taken care of the dent in the rear door and even put on a racing stripe. That’s the problem with this Guy. I can’t stay mad at Him. It’s kind of worth the inconvenience. Almost.

He drives. He doesn't get to do it that often. We get to San Bernardino, the Faire’s still very much going on. He dresses up like Friar Tuck (typecast much?) and I put on one of those Robin Hood hats with the feather in it just to play along. It’s not that bad. I win the archery contest. Then He changes everything into a Lumberjack Fair just so He can show off in the log rolling contest. He slips a couple of times but He doesn’t fall in the water because… you know, when I hear me explaining it in my head, I sound stupid, so I’ll just shut up now.

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