the lost man chronicles
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on the edge

he was going about as fast as i go on the parkway, so i was a little surprised that it all seemed so extraordinarily fast and furious.

then i realized, maybe it was because everyone else was going 30. ah, that's it! that's why when he darted in and out of traffic, rode the yellow line splitting the two lanes, and sped into the part of the road where there's oncoming traffic in order to pass a car, that my anxiety meets trepidation—

"oh, hello"
"seems a little unnecessary wouldn't you say?"
"why yes. so, you're scared too i see?"
"shit yeah, this guy thinks he's charles bronson or something."
"evil knievell."
"no wonder his placard is so scratched up. he doesn't want you to know his name.
"this guy must still think he's in beirut or marrakech…or something."
"or something."

the last time i had courted such danger was almost 15 years ago. i was just 21 and was visiting NYC for the first time with a couple of college friends. since crazy cab drivers are all but absent on the west coast, racing up the upper west side highway at 70 was one of the more perilous thrills of the trip that year. it was certainly stupid, but still exciting.

for taking a taxi in Manhattan is not only a standard tourist fantasy, but for four young turks from the cautious state of Kalifornia, this was like a participating in the first extreme sports games. this was especially true, since we were wearing seatbelts a decade before it became a national trend, and here we were, allowing ourselves to carelessly ride strapless, even if only for a moment it meant forgoing our right to live.

thus, although i did buckle myself in this time, tonight i felt much the same as that memorable evening of my youthful initiation to the unrelenting pace of gotham. since much of the time since then has been spent driving down the middle road in the slow lane, i selfishly succumbed to the peril, if only to experience a few rare moments of riding, and living, on the edge.

"Knowing that the things one loves are dangerous lends indulgence a kind a piquancy, the drama of teasing at the far edges of danger. After a hard day of pulling cheese out of prepared sandwiches and ordering my salad with dressing on the side, I enjoy my gin martini with a twist of all the more knowing it's bad for me. As a result, for most of us, life is a weird mixture of bottled water, whole-wheat bread and complex dietary supplements broken up by reckless bouts of coffee drinking, dessert consumption and car travel."

~ A Shock to the System, New York Times Magazine, 8.8.99, Mark Kingwell

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