The Empty Emergency Lane, 12-years-old?
The Empty Emergency Lane, 12-years-old?
I went to the back room at the karate dojo and Ben was there, reading a novelization of the Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Jingle All The Way. I don’t know why, I think it was just there with all of the other donated books, there for the purpose of entertaining students who would be left at the dojo to accommodate their parents’ and babysitters’ and siblings’ after-school pickup and errand schedules.

This was still before we were teenagers, we hadn’t started the band, we weren’t driving and weren’t hanging out every week, so seeing him wasn’t a regular thing. He also hadn’t quit karate yet, so it was a place we were still able to run into each other without either of us intending to.

There really isn’t anything to this story other than that, and just that I asked him what was happening in the book, maybe a specific question about the plot, but Ben said something about a character—Arnold, I imagined—needing to get around a traffic jam of some sort. The prose was that the character “saw the emergency lane. The empty emergency lane,” meaning that he was going to take it to get around. Either I in my head or Ben out loud read the line in Arnold’s voice.

I don’t know how a conversation about this children’s movie novelization sustained itself for more than thirty seconds, because I can’t imagine Ben or I actually giving a shit about the plot. I have maybe fake memories of Ben just reading the book out loud in Arnold’s voice as a joke? But I do remember our talk wrapping up as Ben said he’d glanced a few pages ahead and caught a few lines about the character being pulled over, meaning he’d suffered the consequences of his illegal driving maneuver.

Maybe I think of this whenever I see someone traveling in the emergency lane? But the “emergency lane. The empty emergency lane” phrasing came to me in a surreal dream last night, and I’m still scared that every time I remember something now might be the last time I remember it, so I feel the need to write it down.

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