I stopped at a red light on Mass. Ave. in Boston, a couple blocks away from the bridge, and a woman in a beat-up old Buick backed into me. Like, cranked her wheel, rammed right into my side. I drove a Chevy pickup truck. It being Boston, I got out of the car yelling, swearing at this woman, a little woman, whose first language was not English. But she lived and drove in Boston, too, so she knew, we both knew, that the thing to do is get out of the car, slam the door as hard as you fucking can and yell things like What the fuck were you thinking? You fucking blind? What the fuck is going on? Jesus Christ! So we swore at each other with perfect posture, unnaturally angled chins. I threw my arms around, sudden jerking motions with my whole arms, the backs of my hands toward where she had hit my truck.
But she hadn’t hit my truck. She hit the tire; no damage done. Her car was fine, too. We saw this while we were yelling, and then we were stuck. The next line in our little drama should have been Look at this fucking dent! I’m not paying for this shit. I’m calling the cops, lady. Maybe we’d throw in a You’re in big trouble, sister, or I just hope for your sake there’s nothing wrong with my fucking suspension, that sort of thing. But there was no fucking dent. There was nothing else for us to do. So I stopped yelling, and she looked at the tire she’d backed into, her little eyebrows pursed and worried. She was clearly in the wrong, I was enormous, and I’d been acting as if I’d like to hit her. So I said Well, there’s nothing wrong with my car, nothing wrong with your car…are you OK? She nodded, and started to cry, so I put my arms around her and I held her, middle of the street, Mass. Ave., Boston, a couple blocks from the bridge. I hugged her, and I said We were scared, weren’t we? and she nodded and we laughed.
Jill McDonough just won the Pushcart Prize for this poem
Go out there and win one for your Uncle Ramey. Play hard. Paddle an ass or two with a 2x4. Throw each other in the bushes for christsake. Don’t be afraid to pee on someone’s front porch. They’d do the same to yours. God, steal a baby for a couple hours if you have to. It’ll be fun to play with. Just return it to the general area you found it when you’re done. Take a nap in the park, but only if it’s raining. Jump in a shallow pond. Litter your faces off. Someone will probably clean it up. Eat a bearclaw in the morning and then drink 100 beers and smoke 75 cigarettes. If someone offers you a jello shot, take five then run away. Wash it all down with some Popeye’s around noon. If you need to make a speech, climb on top of a car and start shouting. People will listen and the driver will understand. In your speech, reference the concepts of revelry, loyalty, and chaos. Put your fist in the air and yell. Others will do the same. If a police officer approaches you, give him a high five then run and dive headfirst into a trashcan. He will realize arresting you is not worth the trouble. Lose at least 75% of your costume. If you come home with your sunglasses, you did something wrong. Last but not least…make out sloppily with someone your not attracted to. You’ll probably never see them again. And if you do, make out with them again for old time’s sake.