The ‘T’ Word


Taxes, dude; I’m so afraid of taxes.

This morning, I walk out into the living room and Andrew’s like, ‘yay, I’m done with my taxes!’ I literally didn’t even know what to say. How are you already done with your taxes? Then as time went on, he’d get email confirmations that his state and federal taxes had been accepted.


It’s like, February 2nd. How.

My fear comes from the fact that I’ve never been able to do my own taxes. I grew up with and still have a trust fund that my grandparents graciously set up for me, and between my aunt in Pennsylvania being the trustee for so long and the apparent complication of processing things like the K1, there’s just no fucking way I’d get everything right.

I know the trust is a blessing, but it’s also a curse in some ways. One very obvious way today is that I’m taxes-ignorant. In the strongest sense.

I moved to Minnesota in the middle of last year, so now I’m freaking out about what I’ll have to do between Nebraska taxes and Minnesota taxes. I’m still technically unemployed, depleting my trust for ‘income,’ and I sold a bit of AdvoCare via independent contracting. Just what the actual fuck do I do now?

Oh, how I wish I could just fill out forms online, hit ‘submit,’ and watch for my refund check. But I can’t.

I guess in many ways, it’s a good problem to have. I just worry that it’s something I’ll never learn how to do. Or even remotely understand.

I started reading through this Minnesota Renters’ Refund form that I got from my landlord. It said I needed this M1PR form. I got on the website and found that form, which told me if I was a partial resident last year, I’d also need the M1NR form. I found that, and it said I’d have to enter information from the M1 form and the federal return. *head explodes*

I just want to be gainfully employed and stay in the same place and- oh God, can I even use my Nebraska tax guy for my Minnesota taxes? Is that a stupid question?

The fact is, I don’t know. Bloody anything. And it’s forcefully-learned helplessness.

Richard, My Darling

Richard, My Darling

After all the fruitless searches (thanks, Peter Gabriel), the frustration with MINI of Alexandria in Virginia (thanks, ‘salesman,’ for calling me back jerking me around and completely blowing me off), and the otherwise mentally-crippling anxiety (thanks, driver-at-fault), I found and bought the perfect MINI Cooper.

In the end, it was the first one I’d bookmarked. Of course.

I came across this blue beauty at MINI of Loveland in Colorado and really liked the look of it… minus the non-black wheels and the lack of sunroof and lack of heated seats. It was almost 100% what I wanted, but I wasn’t going to the whole settling predicament.

I had also found a nigh-perfect one in Virginia that ended up being sold right out from under me as I was speaking to the salesman about transport prices. The funniest thing was when someone from their customer relations department called me:
Guy: “I was wondering if you’d like to come out today or tomorrow to test drive something.”
Me: “Um, I’m in Omaha, Nebraska, so… no?”
Guy: “Oh, okay, (blah blah) Is there a time later this week you’d like to come out and take a look at our inventory?”
Me: “…. No. As I’m in OMAHA, NEBRASKA and I will not be booking a flight to Virginia, where you are, to test drive a vehicle I’ve been driving for the past four years.”
Guy: “Oh, okay, I totally get that. (Me thinking: Do you?) What can we do to earn your business?”
Me: “Well, you would have had my business already, but your salesman sold the car I wanted right out from under me, so I’ll be finding a MINI elsewhere.”
Guy: “Okay, well, please let us know if we can (blah blah blah).”

Yeah, no. I also got two calls from an English salesman (I see your strategy, MINI of Alexandria) assuring me that they’re looking all over for a MINI for me and they’re checking the auction list because they have the biggest used inventory in the country la-di-dah. Well, *checks watch* I wonder how long that list is, because, uh, I still haven’t heard back. Stay tuned to see if they ever find me a car!

Anyway. After all that garbage, I went back to the one in Colorado. The day I found it, I sent an email through their website asking some details and got a call from a salesman within the hour. It was late, even; it was like, past 6pm. Dave Parent of MINI of Loveland called me during an ice cream social they were having – yeah, the dealership was having an ice cream social – to tell me about the car and ask me some questions, etc. After that call, I already had an emotional attachment to this place and this car. I kept the tab up on my browser for days.

We talked again, and I told him the only thing kind of holding me up is the fact that it doesn’t have black wheels; by the time I spend the money buying black wheels, it’ll be way over my budget. He goes, “Why don’t I see if another MINI on the lot can swap wheels with it.” I was like, dude, if you can do that, it’ll be my MINI.

So a couple days later, he calls me back and tells me he wasn’t able to swap wheels without it significantly changing the sticker price, which I understood. This was after the MINI of Alexandria ridiculousness and I’d about had it. I told him the only other thing I wanted on that car was a luggage rack. He said, “I’ll put it on myself.”

Within ten minutes or so, I’d told him to do that and have it on by the next evening because I’ll drive down to get it myself. I could have had it transported for about $500, but where’s the adventure in that? Plus, I’m too damn impatient.

The next day (see, impatient), dad and I rented a car and set out for Colorado. This was the first time I’d been behind the wheel of a car since my accident (so, about forty-one days at this point), and I looked like this:

The drive there went smoothly. There was quite a bit of anxiety to overcome, but luckily it was all interstate. The trees were changing colors and the weather was gorgeous. It was the perfect day for this journey. Then we encountered 5 o’clock traffic upon entering Greeley, which I hated. I was totally exhausted by the time we made it to Loveland.

But, boy, did MINI of Loveland totally rejuvenate me. That place is like a toy store to me. There are so many fun things and beautiful MINIs. The people are all great and enthusiastic. No one could believe I walked away from my accident and even asked to use the photos to show at meetings and to customers. Apparently, I’ve already helped sell a couple cars to people who worry about the small size of the MINI being unsafe. That makes me feel good.

I really wanted to cry right there at the sales desk. I’d just accomplished such a daunting task and overcome so many fears. I knew I was heading toward my freedom. I was heading toward the key to putting this awful experience and time behind me. It was going to be worth it. And my salesman and finance gal couldn’t have made the process any easier once I got there. They stayed past close and helped us into the MINI and directed us to an awesome BBQ place just down the road.

The next day, dad and I got up and had breakfast at the hotel. We were going to pop over to Estes Park to see the hotel from The Shining, but it was so foggy. Instead, we hit the road and took a detour through Wyoming, up to Alliance, Nebraska. I had never been in Wyoming and I had never been as far northwest in Nebraska. The drive through Scotts Bluff actually took my breath away – I couldn’t believe the land formations and valleys and trees. Who knew we had such a diverse landscape! In Alliance, we ate at a cute little diner off of Main Street and then popped over to see Carhenge.

Yes, like Stonehenge.

I’d never seen it, so it was amazing. Dad and I spent some time geeking out, and then continued on home. Of course, with such a detour, we ended up with part of our drive past sunset. I hadn’t driven in the dark since the accident. Then we encountered some emergency closure of I-80 and had to squeeze into a caravan of semi trucks with trailers on a two-lane highway through a bunch of small towns. We were stop-and-go, and I was constantly worried the truck behind me wouldn’t stop in time, and at one point on the two-lane highway I randomly noticed how close opposite traffic was (I missed the median and four-lane interstate). There were a few times where my heart may have stopped.

We made it home safely and upon backing into my garage, I broke down. I did, not the car. I sat in my car and had a little weep. I stroked the steering wheel and tenderly caressed the dashboard and ran my fingertips over the MINI wings emblem. No joke. I didn’t know when I’d be back in a MINI Cooper. Let alone one so perfect for me. I didn’t know when I’d be driving again. I didn’t know how I’d do driving again. I made myself drive to Loveland, not only for the fun of it, but as a test. One I had no other option but to pass. And no matter how the drive there went, I had to turn around and drive right back. I was so proud of myself. I’d done it. And now I had him. My MINI. My darling. My Richard. Yes, that’s his name: Richard.


It’s been a couple weeks now that I’ve had him. I’ve got my C. Friis rally sticker on the back driver’s-side window, I’ve got the grille badges on: a black, white, and grey Union Jack and then the Sir Alec quote, “I don’t want bloody women driving my car.” Those were the two I’d had on my British Chap; the grille, badges, and my license plate disappeared in the accident. He’s taken me to a friend’s wedding and to Target (oh lawdy, how I had missed going to Target) and to Starbucks. He whips ’round the roundabouts and is just a total stunner. I really couldn’t be happier with him.

Alas, I’m still incredibly anxious while driving. I have been doing my best to keep my eyes fixed ahead and not on the rear view window when I’ve come to a stop and I know someone is coming up behind me. Every car coming opposite is going to swerve at the last minute and hit me, I just know it. Honestly, the only way I’ve been able to get around that is to just resign to the fact that if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. And I’ll be hurt again or I could die. And my car will be wrecked again and I’ll have to start all over again.

Everyone says because I’ve been hit twice, statistically it won’t happen again. I almost failed statistics, so I’m not really sure I can grasp that logic. I think, if anything, it’s even more likely to happen again. I feel like a target. The dumb motherfucker who decided drinking and driving was a good idea that night sought me out. and now I feel like a target. Everyone is going to hit me and I don’t trust anyone. That person is going to decide they want that exit and they’re going to side-swipe me at the last minute. That person isn’t going to see me and they’re going to send me into the guard rail. That person is going to drop something and jerk the wheel and hit me head-on.

There was one day, though. One day since I’ve been back from Loveland, I went for a drive. Just to drive. Like I used to. I took Richard to Ponca Hills, my old neighborhood. I took him through the hills and around the bends and past my home that will always be my home. I took him out on I-680 and saw the trees looking like autumn and the sun was shining and I felt like myself again. Just for a moment. I hadn’t felt like me in a long time. I was on my way back.


I am on my way back.

Six Degrees of Separation? Child’s Play


Recently- not that this is anything novel or previously unexperienced, but- recently, and I mean, just this month, I’ve met or run into complete strangers who know all the same people I do. The fact that we’re still strangers is, frankly, odd.

Case #1: I am invited to a bachelorette party weekend at a cabin about fortyfive minutes west of Omaha. I know the bride and the bride’s best friend, and then there are six other girls I’ve never met. Upon arriving, two of the strangers (who aren’t strangers anymore, d’awwwwwww) are challenging each other. “I’ve got THE most hideous dress to show you.” “No, I have the most hideous dress to show you.” In the end, of course, it turned out to be the same dress on the same gal. 

Now, yeah, okay, that’s funny and ha-ha small world, BUT THERE’S MORE.

I want to see this hideous dress, naturally, so the laptop is turned toward me. Oh, hey, I know the guy in that photo. 

“How do you know him?” I went to pre-school and high school with him. 

“Well, I went to St Phil’s with him.” Well, I played soccer for St Phil’s.

“Then you must know _____.” Yep.

“And ______.” Yep.

(and so on).

I think at the end of that little discover, I’d learnt that we all had so many friends in common that it was a miracle that we’d not met before.

I took that opportunity to warn everyone: don’t talk shit about anyone at all ever because clearly, he or she will end up being someone’s brother or cousin or neighbor or postman.

Case #2: Went out to the bar and Kona for a friend’s birthday. This time I knew everyone, as they were all previous co-workers. Then another person shows up and one of my friends says, “Oh, I think you guys have a mutual friend.” I was like, “besides all of y’all?” (God, I’m funny). After raucous laughter, the stranger goes, “Yeah, Melanie?” 

I just looked at her.

“So, no?”

Um, no, the look is because I have literally known her my entire life and I’ll be in her wedding next year. (Different wedding).

“Oh! Well, I played softball with her for (however many) years!” And now this stranger (but not anymore, D’AWW) works for my former employer.


But, WAIT.

After our favorite bar, we popped over to Kona (because food) and we were talking about my friend’s birthday. All of a sudden, this guy slightly behind me goes, “Oh, who’s birthday is it?” Hers. “Ah, how old are you?” (First of all, wrong direction). She says: Guess. (Annnnnd there’s the trap). “Um, 31?” 

Shots fired.

Yeah, I’m 29, thanks. “Oh! I’m sorry, well, I’m 41, so I’m way old!” Yeah, right, let me see your ID.

(He gets out ID) How do you say your last name? “Like it’s spelled.” (Why haven’t I ever used that approach? Oh wait, because Friis).

She pronounces it quite Frenchly and he says, “no, it’s-” and without looking at the ID, I say it correctly.

“How’d you do that?” Well, do you have a younger brother named Justin who went to North?

“OMG YES! How did you know that?”


Case #3: Not as strong of a case, I grant you, but still enough to be like, JFC. Talking to my friend who I’ve actually never met, but you know, it’s one of those social media things that I love; anyway, he asks me if I listen to 105.9 ever. I’m thinking, I didn’t know 105.9 was nationally syndicated (this friend lives in CA). 

“Oh, well, my friend, a comedian, just told me that he was on the 105.9 morning program this morning… in Omaha!”

Needless to say, I wasn’t up early enough for the morning program, but I googled this comedian and he happens to be coming to the Funny Bone just down the street in November.

I just know that when I go see his show and I tell him that we’ve got a mutual friend, he’ll say, “what a small world!”


Yes, A Second Time



Back when the Beatles were touring the US, they came to St Louis, Missouri. Dad thought, “surely, they’ll come closer – at least to Kansas City,” but they didn’t. And then they broke up. 

When Sir Paul’s Back in the US tour came through Omaha in 2005, we were dying to go. I’ll always remember being in class, seeing that I had a voicemail from mom. I dialed it up and cradled my phone in my arms with my head down. I had to keep from crying right there in class as I listened to mom breathlessly announce, “Happy Birthday, Nina! Oh my God, I got them; I got the tickets! We’re going to see Paul McCartney!”

Tickets sold out in something like eight minutes. 


When Paul McCartney announced he would be coming to Lincoln, Nebraska this year, there was literally no thinking-about-it to be done: I was going.

Furthermore, my dad was going. 

I was in Australia when I got the notice about tickets being on sale. I had to tell the girls to pause our Game of Thrones marathon because there was something I had to take care of. I think it was about 1 or 2am there.

There were some VIP tickets and some levels of ‘special’ tickets and I knew I was going to spend a hell of a lot of money, but I was prepared. 

Right away, the VIP tickets were sold out. I mean, within seconds. I hurriedly put two of the Gold Package tickets in my basket and then thought, shit, I should see about two normal tickets just in case, so I threw those in the basket, too.

Near $2000 later, I had four tickets. The concert was shortly after mom’s birthday, so I figured she and her fiancée could go. 

I called dad right away, knowing it was about 10am at home. “Dad, did you get the tickets?” He said, “Shit! I’m not even home, I totally forgot.” 

“Well, I guess you’ll have to settle for my main floor tickets then.” 

In true Dad fashion, he replied: “I mean, if I have to, I guess those will be okay.”

Then I called mom and asked her if she got tickets. “No! They sold out too quickly!”

“Well, I’m sorry, but you’ll be getting tickets for your birthday.”


Trying not to cry right now with the memory. Ahem.

(See, I’ve been putting this off because it makes me so damn emotional). 


Fast-forward to the night of the concert. And hand me another tissue.

Dad drove over to my place and we hopped in my MINI to head to Lincoln. I can’t even remember what all we talked about, except when someone almost sideswiped us in front of the gas station. I let loose a string of “fucking motherfucker”s and “cunt sonsofbitches” and dad just cracked up. Upon pulling out of the gas station, I said, “ugh, let’s just get out of here!” Dad: “You mean, get the FUCK out of here!”

Conor says he can always tell when dad’s been around me because his cussing game is too strong. *bows*

We get to Lincoln and I’m about to ask dad just where the Pinnacle Bank Arena is when this massive, shining, 2001:-A-Space-Odyssey-lookin’ building appears out of nowhere. The exterior actually reminded me of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. 

We found the parking lot (after being cut off by some douche bag in an Eclipse, who then rolled up his windows when dad and I started loudly mocking him – holy shit, we’re a bad influence on each other), which was only about a five minute walk from the arena. 

The arena itself had really adorable British decorations going on out front. There was a street sign that said “Abbey Road” and a red phone booth with Union Jacks all over it. There were also tons of people. 

Dad and I are forty-two years apart. There were some folks younger than me and some folks older than dad. It was the most obvious display of the absolute reach the Beatles have had. And continue to have. Talk about timeless.

Anyway, after some selfies with the phone booth and tour banner, we got inside. Dad didn’t know exactly where we were sitting. He saw the tickets said ‘Main Floor’ but they also said ‘Sec 51′ which sounds like it could be anywhere. I led him ’round to the floor entrance and tried very hard not to get stopped by any helpers because I didn’t want them to give away just where we were sitting.

On the floor, there were about six or seven different sections, and we were directed to walk up the middle. We would get to a section and I’d turn around to dad and muse, “mmm, no, a bit farther, I think.” 

Finally, we got to our section. Our seats were 1 and 2, right on the end, and we were row MM. I didn’t count, but I’m going to assume that as M is the thirteenth letter in the alphabet, we were thirteen rows from the stage. 

Dad just kind of looked at me in disbelief as we sat down, and then shook my hand. 🙂

Mom and Tom wandered up and found us – they were on the main floor, also, just a few sections back. They were so excited; it was adorable.

I think by the time the lights went down, I was already tearing up. (I told you, I’m seriously emotional about this. I’ve been waiting for a day where I’ve got no makeup to ruin because I knew I would cry just typing this shit up). 

I said to dad, “it hasn’t hit me yet that we’re seeing Paul McCartney.” 

Dad: “Paul FUCKING McCartney.”

I was in a bit of shock when he first came out on stage. The same thing happened in 2005. It’s just the “holy shit, that’s Paul McCartney, that’s one of The Beatles; he’s about to sing and play music, live, right here, and I’m here, and he’s there, and I’m going to hear and see him sing and play music, but not just any music, music he wrote for The Beatles, music he wrote for Wings, music he wrote solo, music I’ve been listening to my entire life, music dad has been listening to almost his entire life, and we’re here together, to hear Paul McCartney – PAUL. MCCARTNEY. – sing and play, sing those songs he wrote, play that iconic Höfner bass, play that colorful upright piano, oh my God,” you know, that whole thing.

He wore a Husker red blazer at first. It reminded me so much of Tom Osborne. I wonder if he met Coach. I wonder if Coach is a fan. I know he hung out with Warren Buffett in Omaha the night before the concert. Just up town from where I was drinking. If only I knew. I mean, seriously, the two of them got ice cream and sat on a park bench. Ridiculousness. 

Anyway. Since I’m on the topic of the Huskers and all-around Nebraska awesomeness, during some of Sir Paul’s little talk-to-the-audience breaks, he said some things that I swear I’ll never unhear: “Go Big Red!” “There is no place like Nebraska!” “Go Huskers!”

Now, I know he tailors all talk-to-the-audience breaks appropriately, but in that moment, all he cared about was us. For a lifelong Husker fan as well, hearing one of my heroes say those things… Like I said, I’ll never unhear them. Dad and I looked at each other, and the shock and awe that were written all over his face, well, I think we both could have died happily right then.

It sounds utterly ridiculous and dramatic, I’m sure, but it was everything.

I can’t remember every song he played. I took about a thousand photos and as many videos as I could get away with: Let Me Roll It (which went into Foxy Lady by Hendrix), I’ve Just Seen A Face, And I Love Her, Something (played on ukulele as a tribute to George), Back in the USSR, LIVE AND LET DIE (caps added for the fucking unbelievable amount of pyrotechnics used), Hey Jude (oh my God, they did the bassline from the ‘Love’ version and it was positively glorious), he and the band came out with a US flag, UK flag, Nebraska flag, and a Blackshirts flag (Go Huskers!), Hi Hi Hi, Saw Her Standing There, Golden Slumbers medley (started on the piano and then came out for the three-leads bit). I got some audio, also: Blackbird, Here Today (as a tribute to John), All Together Now, Lovely Rita, Let It Be.

All Together Now was fantastic and hysterical. When it was over, he said, “That was one of my more sophisticated songs.”

After Blackbird, he asked how many people had tried to learn that on guitar. Most people cheered (myself and dad, included). And then: “No one did it right. Only I can.” The cheeky bastard.

He told some funny stories.

I guess Jimi Hendrix opened a show with some Sgt Peppers songs, but in using his whammy bar, he threw his guitar out of tune right away. He stopped and asked if Eric Clapton was in the audience to help tune his guitar. Eric WAS in the audience and said, ‘tune your own guitar, man!’

He talked to Warren Buffett about playing ukulele, because I guess Warren plays. He said he’s pretty good!

When he met with the Russian dignitaries back in the day, one of them told Paul, “First album I ever buy was Beatles album.” Then, “I learn English from Beatles album. Hello, goodbye.” Paul: “It’s true!”

He was a total hamball. Always goofing off and posing and definitely not acting his age. He never took a break, he never took a drink of water; he hit every single high note; he just never faltered. 

I think I sat down once – when everyone else sat – otherwise, I could not keep still. 

There were about 19,000 people in the arena, I think? People were so. well-behaved. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the people of the Midwest, but damn, no one was a drunken jackass, people stayed in their seats for the most part, we sang along, we brought out our lighters/cell phones for Let it Be, we really gave him our full attention. Then again, he commands it, doesn’t he? 

When he played a couple songs from his newest album, he said, “You know, I can tell when people like the song because I see the cell phones come up. [everyone laughed] We can tell, we can tell.” 

The crazy thing was when he played ‘New’ from his New album. I have a clear memory of walking Embankment in London last year, I was actually just outside Embankment station and making my way toward a tourist trap to see if I could find something for a friend. My iPod had died and for the sake of space, I had maybe four songs on my iPhone: New was one of them. It was the first time I’d heard it and it just fit my mood, the weather, where I was, everything, so well. 

And here I was, back home, hearing it live from the man himself. Funny how things work.

I’m just glad the people in front of me didn’t turn around too often. I didn’t wear mascara on my lower lashes because I knew I’d be sobbing most of the time. I probably looked a sight anyway.

Oh man, his encores, though. He came back for three encores. I can’t remember exactly what he played for each one, but at this point, it had been like two and a half hours. Most bands come back for one encore and do like, one hard song and one acoustic song because they’re tired AF. 

Not Paul. He played a few songs each time, and I’m not talking Blackbird (although he did play that as part of one encore, technically), this dude came back out and played high bpm songs like Saw Her Standing There, songs with a high degree of technical or vocal difficulty like Helter Skelter; I mean, the man did not phone it in. 

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

At The End, he said, “we’ll see you next time!”

I’m gonna hold you to that, Paul. 


14 Jan

Well. I’ve still not gotten my car. Which means I had to extend my rental. Again. I know what the guy at Ameriprise said, but this is ridiculous. Seriously, if I’d had my car in the shop for 15 days, I would have had a rental for 15 days, right? Well, it’s totaled; so I’m sorry, but I should have a rental for however frickin’ long it takes me to get a new car. No, wait: I should have a rental for however frickin’ long it takes me to get the settlement check which would be the downpayment on a new car. Logical, I would think.

Other than that, woke up to a call from Jo. Moving her flight would have cost an arm and a leg, so after accepting the fact that we probably won’t be able to do this trip, I realized she could probably fly into Kansas City way cheaper than Omaha. Lo and behold. So Tuesday morning, I’ll drive down to KC to pick her up and then head back to Omaha, then she’ll fly out of Omaha on the 9th. I’m excited. I haven’t been to the zoo in a hundred years, so we’ll most def be going there. (The Henry Doorly Zoo, you know, the best zoo in the country. You heard me, better than San Diego. Check this shit out: Also, I’ve got a little West Country Meets West Nebraska daytrip mapped out on this awesome website/app called Roadtrippers. It is the shit and I think it’ll be really fun. I’ve never been where we’re going and there are a ton of interesting things along the way. (For example, Hastings, Nebraska, where Kool-aid was invented. Ohh yeahh).

So, back on the prompt thing for a minute or two.

January 14th – Ripped from the headlines:
Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.
(wrings hands schemingly) Naturally, I went to I took a look at the Entertainment section first, but nothing really caught my eye. Back on the main page, however, under the Autos section blurb, I saw Top Gear. Talk about something that grabs me. Even better, it’s about the boys coming to the US: “Top Gear makes US landfall”
I have to do this without reading the article, or I have to read the article and further base a story off of that? Okay, well, the story is about the boys doing a 700mile road trip from the rural south to Manhattan. I can work with that. (You know this is going to be fanfiction, right? This could even be foreshadowing since this ep airs tomorrow. Dun dun dunnn)
→The boys had set off from Atlanta, Georgia, preparing themselves for more of an 867mile road trip than the 700mile road trip, as the producers had previously said. None of them slept well the night before the journey. It was either the memory of the last time they were in the Southern US, or it was the excitement of driving such stunningly beautiful cars north on the interstate. Although it was truly a bit of both, it was mostly the former.
No, they weren’t in the same town, and no, they weren’t driving vehicles with hillbilly-enraging phrases painted on the sides, but nevertheless.
They were also a bit nervous for another reason: They had a woman with them. Well, alright, a girl. Of 25. She had won some sort of Top Gear contest that they didn’t even know about and all of a sudden, they were meant to take this stranger with them on their trip up the east coast of the US.
Even more annoying was the fact that her flight was delayed, so they were having to pick her up from the airport and then start right off toward Manhattan. They argued at dinner about who would be stuck with her for the 800-plus mile roadtrip.
“Absolutely rubbish,” Jeremy said, after he downed the rest of his pint in the hotel bar. “She’s certainly not riding in my SLS. She won’t know how to operate the gull-wing doors and it’ll be an utter embarrassment.” He sighed dramatically and got up to get another pint.
“I could have her in the Ferrari, I reckon,” James said thoughtfully. He seemed to be slightly more alright with the aspect of a young bird in his car. That’s because-
“Oh, come off it, mate. You only want her in your car so you can bore her to death with your facts and maths and agonizingly slow driving and-” Richard drawled on until James interrupted him.
“Yeah, well, she can’t be any more bored than she’d be in your 911 – a.k.a the same 911 made for the past however many years.”
“Oh my God, we’re not talking about the Beetle again, are we?” Jeremy complained as he returned with his beer.
Richard attempted to get the attention off of his beloved Porsche. “We’ll just have to flip a coin, I guess.”
“Oh no, we won’t,” James and Jeremy said simultaneously. “You’ll have her, mate,” Jeremy said, raising his glass to cheers James. “I think that’s quite settled then, Hamster,” James concluded, clinking his glass against Jeremy’s.
Richard closed his eyes and sighed. “For God’s sake,” he said, getting up for the bar. A hangover would definitely make things worse on the ride, but he couldn’t be bothered to care. He found an open spot and hitched up onto the barstool. A few minutes away from the others would be a welcome break. “Gin on the rocks, please,” he said when the barman noticed him. He was running his hands over his face when he heard someone say, “excuse me?”
He turned toward the source of the voice and saw a young woman standing next to him with a carryon. She looked a bit travel-weary as she plopped it on the stool directly next to Richard. He did a quick rake over her and determined that she was pretty, and even in the dim light of the bar, he noticed her hazel eyes – her genuine smile making them crinkle at the corners.
“Richard, hi, I’m Nina, I, well, I’m- nice to meet you,” she stammered, extending her hand.
Richard took her hand and shook it. “Hi, yes, nice to meet you, too. Can I.. buy you a drink?”
“Oh, God, yes,” she said with a huff. She moved her carryon to the next stool over and sat down next to Richard. “I fucking hate when my flight’s delayed.”
“That really is awful,” Richard sympathized, as he got the barman’s attention. “Are you stuck here, then?”
She gave a hesitant laugh, then turned toward the barman. “Old-fashioned, please.” She looked back toward Richard with a smirk. “Actually, I’m uh, I’m here for you guys.”
Well, I sure hope you enjoyed that piffle.

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