I feel the need to start by saying that Schindler’s List is a great movie. Gripping, dark, brutal realism at its best; a Holocaust movie that Gene Siskel said will “simply and forcefully place us there”. Totally what you want in an afternoon spent with your Italian, Catholic grandmother. I can only assume it’s what this old lady had in mind in terms of good times with her teenage granddaughters since it was her idea to go see this movie.
First, I think it’s important that you understand my grandmother to really get and appreciate the situation fully. Her name is Mafalda, but in America, she goes by “Muffy” (I know). Sometimes it gets shortened to “Muff” (Dude. I know). To say that she is high strung would be a wild understatement. Remember George Costanza’s mother? The redheaded woman prone to sudden and unexpected fits of high pitched screeching hysterics? (“SHE’S NOT CHINESE! I’VE BEEN DUPED!!!!” ) Other things you need to know about Muffy: at times, she has little to no sense of humor. And she scares us.
That about covers it.
So. We’re in the car, on the expressway. I’m in the front seat and Deirdre (my younger sister) was in the backseat, directly behind me. Deirdre wasn’t allowed to sit in the front seat. And Deirdre didn’t want to be. Also, we didn’t really have conversations together. Usually, she’d talk. Or complain about something. Loudly. And we’d sit quietly, thinking about other things. This time she was talking about all of the things our father could and should do with us during his visitation (no, I don’t know why she would have that conversation with us, two teenagers, rather than her adult son).
“Daddy should take you girls to the beach. Why doesn’t he take you to the beach? He’s got a car. I don’t know WHY he doesn’t take you girls to the beach!” Her voice was taking on that Mrs. Costanza shrill.
I murmured something about knowing and not knowing and proceeded to stare out the passenger side window. And as I watched the houses go by, the car in the right lane next to us caught my eye. What caught my attention was the way the guy in the backseat was sitting. Our front passenger window was directly in line with that car’s driver’s side backseat window. And the guy appeared to be leaning really far forward. I mean, reeeally far forward. Like, uncomfortably and unnecessarily far forward. Then I realize, that guy isn’t in the backseat leaning forward. He’s in the driver’s seat leaning back.
So we are clear, the driver is leaned so far back that he could be confused with being a person in the backseat.
And I’m thinking what you’re all thinking now. “How is he reaching the steering wheel when he’s reclined THAT far back?” And literally, as I’m asking myself that question, my eyes start to move, almost in slow motion, from his head in the backseat to what I expect will be his hands on the steering wheel. At this same time, Muffy’s picked up the speed so we are starting to pass this car. All of a sudden, me and this dude make eye contact. Right then, he THRUSTS his pelvis up to window level. No, no he was not wearing pants. And yes, yes his penis was ready for action.
Then we pass him. He veers off the exit.
I sat there for a second. Just kind of taking it in. So, that happened. I just saw a grown man, driving on the expressway, at about 60 mph with no pants and a hell of a boner. And then I filled with dread, fear, panic. Did Muffy see that? My body stiffens, bracing for the blow that will be her shriek. Because, holy shit, if she saw that, she will LOSE. HER. MIND. And this car will be filled with her screams the whole way to The Little Theatre. I very slowly, as not to make any sudden movements, turned my head to look at her.
“…and they have seagulls out near Sea Breeze. I don’t know why Daddy doesn’t bring you girls there.” I don’t know why she insists on calling him “Daddy”.
So clearly, she missed the penis on parade. With a sigh of relief and still a little shocked, I rest back against my seat. And in my right ear, I heard a whispery, breathy noise. I looked over my shoulder and it was Deirdre, with her face smashed in the space between the edge of my seat and car window.
“YES!!!!”, she whisper-shouted. The poor kid just saw her first upright wiener at 14 years old on the 390 Expressway while in a car with her grandmother.
We made it to the theatre and I saw an amazing movie about a dark time in world history, the whole time thinking about penises and the logistics of going for a drive without your pants. I don’t mind telling you, I feel some kind of way about the fact that a movie about the Holocaust is forever linked in my mind to a dirty man flashing teenage girls on Rochester’s 390. And I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but if you hang around long enough, you’ll see that this was just the beginning of strangers showing me their business in public places.
It’s like I have the words, “Hey, man, I’d really like to see your junk” written on my forehead in an ink that only homeless men and dudes with severe emotional issues can see.