As the family walked to the car I was able to see the license plate on their Ford F-150 as the linebacker approached it. The state was Montana and the plates expired in September of 2011. I was glad to get my bearings and know that I was still in the current year. I didn’t know how this soul traveling worked but it was somewhat of a comfort to know I wasn’t time traveling. As soon as Diane got into the driver’s seat and started the truck she pressed a button on the dashboard and I could hear a cartoon start to play somewhere behind me. When we turned around to look in the back seat I saw the two kids buckled in and riveted to the screen hanging from the roof of the truck.
The drive was beautiful. I had never been to Montana; never had any reason to I had thought. I wasn’t exactly an outdoorsy guy. But the rolling hills that were marked like puzzle pieces with sandstone peaking through the soil and geometric patches of grass, were unlike anything I had seen. The sun was setting and gave the land the look of a fake movie set. We drove 30 minutes before we arrived at another town, smaller than the one we had left. During that time no one in the car spoke. Their house was up a dirt road and appeared to be on a sizeable piece of property. The place looked shabby and at least thirty years old. I missed my condo in Miami. I missed the cool feel of the black tile on my feet in the kitchen. The shiny flecks of silver in the granite counter top as I sliced limes on it. The way the balcony door creaked a certain way right before it closed. Or even how the couch fit me perfectly when I sat on the left side and leaned my elbow on the arm while watching TV. Why are those the things I remembered? Shouldn’t I have memories of the things I did there, you know, with people? I thought about how solitary I had been in life. I thought I wanted it that way. No complications, no drama, nothing tying me down. But if all that leaves me with is a warm and fuzzy feeling about my countertops, I’d say I wasn’t getting a whole lot out of life. I felt a pang of regret. That was definitely a feeling that was unfamiliar to me. I also never wanted children. Many a relationship of mine ended when the uterus-minded party found out this bit of information, and they acted as if I should have shared it on the first date. So as long as I’m regretting not having closer relationships, I might as well see if this kid thing is all it’s cracked up to be while I’m visiting the linebacker. Although, I had a feeling that this might not be the family to model after.
Once inside the house the linebacker headed down a long, narrow flight of stairs into the basement. I quickly deduced that the space was what would be referred to as a man-cave. I mentally shook my head in disgust at the thought of the role of the American wife. Decorate the entire house with no semblance to the man’s tastes or preferences; sequester him to the basement, garage, or workshop; and then complain to her friends that he spends too much time in his man-cave. “What is he doing down there for all that time?” the wives wonder aloud at the lunch table. He’s jerking off to porn because you never give him any, that’s what he’s doing. As I surveyed the room with its neon beer sign memorabilia, pool table, plasma screen, and wet bar, I quickly got back to my state of mind of loving my single life – screw relationships. I had all this at my place, minus the wife. Well, I didn’t have a neon sign of the Budweiser frogs repeatedly jumping onto a lily pad. He switched the TV on and ESPN filled the enormous screen. Well, this was turning out to be one stereotype come alive after another. He made a drink at the wet bar; pouring Crown Royal into a tumbler with no ice. When he opened the cabinet I noticed it was nearly bare; just the bottle of Crown, and an ancient looking bottle of Kahlua, which everyone’s bar seemed to have. Not much of a bar for a man-cave. He stopped and stared at the glass in his hand before he drank, swirling the contents around slowly, eyes fixed on it in the way one does when they are looking at something but not really seeing it. I waited for an emotion to come through to me, as I was certain he was lost in thought. I felt nothing. For some reason it worried me that he wasn’t giving me anything. Snapped out of his trance he raised the glass and took a long drink, closing his eyes and sending me to darkness for a few seconds.