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Monday, July 22, 2024

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Joyride III 4.19.2006

By Rick Racela

There is something very peculiar about riding in the back of a car that is much bigger than my college apartment. On a recent business trip to Indiana, I discovered that I am not the limo-riding type. But then again, the Indianapolis Airport is hardly the most exotic locale for my first experience with stretch transportation.
The limo driver was dressed as if he was part of the entourage at a presidential inauguration. It seemed a great breach of etiquette when I reached for the door myself. As I ducked through the doorway, I tried to plant myself on the expensive leather seats with some dignity.  It would appear that I did not succeed in this effort since the limo’s only other passenger, a nicely quaffed and self-important businessman, greeted me with a half eye roll.  I was apparently not worthy of a complete eye roll.
For the first few moments, I attempted to act like a veteran limo rider. I sat there with a been-there-done-that expression on my face. But before long I was carefully examining every aspect of the opulence with mouth agape. I looked like a farmer on his first trip into the city. 
What was most unexpected was the blur of mixed metaphors contained inside this sanctuary of automobile sumptuousness.  The long line of leather seating looked like a kind of mobile conference room.  The muted pink stars that lit up on the ceiling gave it an air of a smoke-filled 1970’s disco club.
One side of the limo was lined with glasses full of red and white mints that made it feel like we had packed up grandma’s house for the ride.  I have only experienced hard candies on display in two places in my life: at my grandmother’s house and diners.
At this point, the limo ride became a bit comical.  I expected to realize that I wasn’t sitting directly on leather at all, but was instead reclining on one of those plastic protectors that sitcom homemakers use to keep a 1960’s plush couch in pristine condition.
As I had these thoughts, I began to chuckle a bit. I thought I was doing this in my head. But judging from the reaction from my fellow passenger, my laughter was either audible or he was the world’s first mind-reading business man.
My giggly reaction appeared to jar his carefully crafted image of disinterest. For a moment, his composure was broken as he gave me a much more primal look that said, “Oh my God, I am riding with a hick.”
I found this non-verbal exchange to do be saturated with irony since the landscape whizzing by our behemoth of luxury was a blur of Indiana cornfields. I guess we were drawing our lines in the field.  I felt much more kinship with the world that was happening outside. 
As I peered around the limo again, I no longer saw it as opulent and staid. Instead, I felt a kind of sadness.  It was an edifice that exceeded its purpose.  It was a place that is impossible to feel comfortable. 
As the limo pulled into my hotel’s parking lot, I envisioned my two young sons in the limo gleefully leaping from seat to seat in a euphoria that goes beyond a sugar high.  They would madly be testing every control and gadget, sending windows opening and closing in random ways and tossing mints about as if they were little baseballs. As I pictured myself trying to scold them while still maintaining my dignity, I began to laugh once again. 
With a bit more humanity this time, the businessman shot me one last look. It would appear that our lines in the field were actually closer together than I originally thought.    
Keith Forrest is an assistant professor of communication at Atlantic Cape Community College.  His late mother Libby Demp Forrest Moore wrote the Joyride column for this newspaper for 20 years.

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