I have suddenly so much sympathy for my mother.
1. Roll-Over DJ:
It's mid-day, and the build up of cars in the intersection in front of me looks like a ball of ants clinging to one another to keep from being washed away in a flood. I've been in the car for two hours, and all of my siblings are with me. My brother sits beside me, tapping the dashboard in time with the music as behind me my little sisters fight in harsh undertones about who did or did not kick the back of my seat ten seconds ago.
The cd player has stopped working, and the light has turned red again. Lunch is waiting for us on the other side of that intersection, if we can ever get through it. I'm so hungry that I'm pretty sure my body is begining to cannabalize itself, and my youngest sister has begun to whine loudly.
"You Oughta Know" begins playing on the radio. I, too preoccupied with the car that's just cut me off (a red sedan that proudly tells me that it's impossible to be Catholic and support abortion at the same time, and that abortion is murder, and that I, as a pro-choice advocate am a baby killer all through the use of cheerfully colored bumpers stickers) to pay any attention to music, immediately comply with the youngest sister's request that I turn the music up.
My brother, at this point, decides his masculinity has been too threatened by being forced to listen to this for him to continue life. He covers his ears with his hands and begins to scream.
I don't know what's going on, only that it sounds like he's in the middle of death throes. So I jump, swerve a little, and almost hit the car in front of me. The middle sister begins to shriek from fear of an imminent accident. I start to yell at my brother, who starts to yell at the radio and demand that he be allowed to change it, and then the youngest one begins to yell at him, saying that this song is "IMPORTANT TO MY LIFE, OKAY!? YOU DON'T GET IT, YOU NEVER WILL I HATE YOU SO MUCH!! HOW CAN YOU EVEN BE MY BROTHER!??" Then the middle sister starts yelling at the youngest sister, telling her that she's over-reacting.
In the background, Alanis is yelling, too. The woman in the car over, gives me a dirty look, shaking her head, and pursing her lips, and just generally judging me. I smile tightly at her, and flip her off with my eyes.
The light turns green, and I drive through the intersection, in the Scream Mobile.
2. The Times, They Are a Changin' :
It's morning, and I'm driving my sisters to school. The middle one is sitting next to me, and I'm barely awake, blinking at the road.
"I totally like classic rock," she tells me, fiddling with the dial. "It's like -- key, you know?"
I nod, and try not to fall into a narcaleptic coma as I drive.
"I mean, I like all the old greats. The Beatles, The Stones, The Red Hot Chili Peppers..." she trails off.
"Whatthefuck!?" I demand, my head whipping around to glare at her. "They're not classic rock!"
She shrugs, wide eyed. "They play that song by them about the bridge on the classic rock station. Like, all the time."
From the back seat, the youngest one chimes in. "Yeah, and the one about the box! The heart shaped one!"
"That's by Nirvana!" I protest, gaping at the road. "And that's not classic rock, either! That came out when I was like, 11 or something!"
"Yeah, well," the youngest one says, "you're old."
"You've even got grey hair!" the middle one chirps happily.
"I'm twenty!" I wail. "You must be mixed up -- they can't be classic rock."
"Whatever," the middle one says turning it to her favorite 'classic rock' station.
And through the speakers of the car, comes wafting the lines, "Sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner, sometimes I feel like my only friend is the city I live in, the city she loves me, lonely as I am, together we cry..."
3. How Do You Like Me Now?
The stoplight has been red for years of my life. It's late at night, and beside me, my youngest sister is snapping her gum loudly.
I've out-lawed the radio; it causes too much trouble. Though hearing those words come out of my mouth made me want to get out of the car, and lie down by the side of the road, and wait for death to come, because I sounded just like my father when I said it.
A car pulls up next to us, with spinning hubcaps and a purple light underneath it and a guy in the driver's seat who is simply *beautiful*. He's probably no more than 17, but I can appreciate absolute and total beauty as much as the next person, right?
My jaw drops, and so does my sister's. "What a hottie," she breathes, reverently.
I grin, predatorily. "Yeah, tell me about it."
The music from his car thumps into ours, which normally annoys the shit out of me, but I can deal with it now. Because it comes from *his* car and *he* is just exquisite looking.
I begin to formulate fantasies that he's actually a year older than me, just baby-faced, and that he's so enchanted by my beauty that he'll follow us to the gas station, and ask for my number and that someday, down the line, we'll have gorgeous children together.
My sister looks at me, and witheringly says, "You're kidding, right?"
I say, "What?"
She says, "You've got stuff on your face, and he's way young for you. He's like my age."
"You're thirteen. He can't be driving if he's your age," I point out.
She rolls her eyes. "Whatever. Besides, you'd probably only see him once and then dump him."
I stammer, because this is too close to the truth.
"When are you going to settle down, anyway?" she presses, sounding like a Jewish grandmother.
"Ohmygod shut your face!" I yelp. The guy next to us, turns to me, and makes a face.
My sister giggles, and then says, "You're graduating soon. Then you'll get married, and have kids, and your life will be over. Get used to it."
I stare at the red light, chilled to the bone by this thought. She snaps her gum, and I snap at her.
"I'm putting an embargo on gum."