Monday, February 13, 2012

Pathfinder as Destrier

A Fishers patrol car blocked the road at 131st Street. I pulled alongside and the officer leaned out his window. I pointed across his hood to the accident scene -- a head-on collision.

“One of the drivers,” I choked out the words. “My wife...”

Not without kindness, he gestured to a second cruiser. “She’s in the back of that one.”

The passenger door opened and Jill climbed out. I put my hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. Scared, but uninjured. I gazed past her to the Pathfinder SUV she’d been driving.

The front end was mangled. Airbags hung from the dash like deflated lungs. A seat belt draped out the driver’s side door like a protective arm now dangling limp toward the pavement. Our truck was bleeding fluid onto the street and it was dying.

I turned back to Jill, looked her up and down and saw none of those kinds of wounds. I took her face in my hands and she said in a small voice, “I’m sorry I wrecked your truck.”

“I don’t give a shit about that truck,” I said. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”

It occurred to me then, that in fact, I did care about that truck. I looked past Jill again. If I had just imagined this truck bleeding and dying, it followed that this truck may once have had "life."

I am not immune to humanizing the non-human. If you want to increase your Scrabble score, you can say, “anthropomorphism”: ascribing human attributes to the non-human.

We've done it since the Paleolithic. We take on animal totems and give them our characteristics and make them our protectors. In our yearning to make a personal connection to the universal, we'll put a robe on it and grow its beard white and call it “God.” Taken to the extreme, we’ll put argyle sweaters on small dogs and give them human names and buy them health insurance and let them eat from our dinner tables.

This gray truck, if human, might have been a bodyguard who'd taken a bullet. It might have been a soldier, throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his fire team. 

"The Sea Horse," Jeffro Uitto,
Picturing the Pathfinder as an animal, I could go so far as to see her as a destrier -- a war horse that reared at the last moment and for the life of its rider, intercepted the incoming arrow shafts, taking them to its own breast.

For a moment, that 12-year-old truck of mine became a living being, one who’d sacrificed herself for Jill.

I realized that, yes, I did care about that truck. I put my hand on her flank. I said a wordless thank you, with true affection. I took my wife home.


Robert said...

Really great story. Thanks for telling it.

BMF said...

A noble steed for a fair lady and her knight. Nice read and glad Jill's alright

Joe said...

BMF... Thanks for taking a look, and for the thought. A great relief that she was able to walk away.

Robert... Appreciated.

Paul Berg said...

Nice post, Joe.

Waistland said...

Well said, JJ.

Joe said...

Paul and Waistland... appreciate you gents giving it a look.

writeraa said...

A lot in there, sir. A lot. But underneath all that good stuff is the simplest truth: that we can be grateful for everything. Doing so opens us to experience connection, which invites peace. Joe, truly enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing, brother.