I accompanied a friend on a highway ride out to the west side of Atlanta, to the bleak wilds of Mableton. I don’t know who Mable was, but her namesake is fairly grim. But we weren’t going sightseeing; he was running an errand and it was an excuse for a ride. I shoved my earplugs in my ears, and we hit the interstate. My last experience on an interstate hadn’t been fun — it felt like my head was being batted by those giant padded batons you see on stupid game shows like American Gladiator. But with the earplugs, that was hugely diminished. I don’t know why. Don’t care. But it wasn’t bad at all. It was a nice milestone: now interstates won’t bother me, and I won’t take convoluted itineraries just to avoid them.
But on the way back, the highways were quickly becoming packed with holiday travelers leaving town, so we decided to take surface streets. My friend, riding a bit ahead, pointed at a large wandering sheet of plastic, floating across the lane we were in. I saw it too, and after he dodged it, I followed his path as it seemed to be on a trajectory to miss me. But, like an enormous, predatory jellyfish of the road, it whirled back toward me. I veered more, but caught its tail under my front tire. I looked in my rearview mirrors, hoping to see it pinned to the road, but it was gone. And I knew where it had gone: wrapped up in my chain. Continue reading