The Dude drives himself around on a regular basis these days. He’s forgiven the Prius for its lack of coolness since it is infinitely more cool than having one’s mother drive you around. He and his friends are coaching a basketball team of younger boys on Fridays. Afterwards, they meet at Chipotle for dinner (there is no finer dining establishment for teen boys than Chipotle, except for 5 Guys). After that, they go to a friend’s house to study and write their college essays. At least that’s what the Dude tells me.
Not to sound like a cranky old man, driving is so much easier than it used to be. When we wanted to go somewhere, we had to find the right map, unfold it, plan a route, write it down and then fold the map up again, which was actually the hardest part of the whole ordeal. Life got better with the internet, when we could use Google Maps to do the search for us. For the Dude, it’s even easier. My Prius has GPS built in.
The downside of modern convenience is that it makes us stupid. Looking at a map provides the big-picture view of geography–how cities connect to each other, the major routes and their direction, and a general sense of how to get from one place to another. Although we tell the Dude to have a plan for getting from point A to B, this necessitates knowing what point B is going to be. Herding cats is easier than getting boys to plan. Cats are more cooperative.
Anyhow, the Dude came home in a glorious mood late Friday night. Apparently, they decided to go to a different Chipotle. It shouldn’t have been too much of a problem. It’s less than two miles away from the usual. After dinner, they traveled by caravan to another boy’s house. This is pretty standard. Their license restricts how many can travel in each car.
“I knew we missed the turn but (teenage boy who shall remain nameless) said he knew a shortcut.”
I pulled out the notebook. I didn’t want to miss anything.
“We ended up at Dulles Mall.” Dulles Mall is 11 miles away. I think they even got on an expressway. There is no expressway that leads from Chipotle to where they were headed. In fact, from where they were, Dulles Mall is in the opposite direction.
Of course, at no time did the Dude reconsider the wisdom of following his friend’s shortcut. There is a big red button on the GPS function of my car. It’s the only one that works while the car is moving. It says GO HOME. Did he think to use it? Nope.
“Well I didn’t think he was going to take us there by going through Los Angeles.”
No one ever does. I suppose I can’t fault him too much. I’ve been known to blindly follow a prescribed path set by someone who ostensibly knows what they’re doing. We are all born with an inner compass that leads the way home. All we have to do is listen to it.
“Then I got stuck at a red light, and every red light after that. I got there a half hour after Matt and he even had to take the human GPS home.” My husband and I put on a good show of sympathy. Okay, maybe not a good show. “You mock me. I feel so bitter. I’m going to the basement.”
As he walked away, my husband called out to him. “Hey Dude, I know a shortcut.”
“Lalalalala, I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” Maybe he got the point after all.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph “Compass on deck of derelict fishing ship” by Mike Baird © 2008 Creative Commons