Popcorn

My music partner and I played a benefit gig last night in a middle school auditorium in a tidy little town about an hour’s drive from home. We took the interstate as far as we could, then traveled Indiana back roads past fields still blanketed with last week’s snowfall, silos white-capped, the moon a skinny crescent in the sky.

The middle school campus was vast. The stage was deep. The audience was receptive. It was a sweet gig.

And then on the way home, we got lost.

Well, lost. My partner and his spouse sat up front consulting their gps mapping and navigation on their smartphones. We weren’t really lost, we were conflicted.

They were conflicted. I was just along for the ride. Hello, moon.

Their devices were giving contradictory directions. One said go, the other said stop. We did a little of both, and found ourselves deep in the part of south-central Indiana where the gentle hills circumscribe your whereabouts and the roads don’t have names, they have numbers and directional tags: North County Road 490 Southwest.

It’s almost a song title. The cadence is a little awkward, though, which was how I was feeling in the back of that SUV, trying to enjoy Lucinda Williams on the audio system through the intermittent ding-ding-ding of the “your vehicle is low on gasoline” indicator.

My bickering friends: You said. No, you said.

The relief of pulling up to a gas pump. The silent recrimination that would not dissipate.

Inside the mini-mart I bought a little bucket of popcorn from the self-service popcorn machine, hoping it wouldn’t be overly salted, pleased beyond measure to find that it wasn’t.

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