“You ready to leave?” Anne asked from just outside my office door.
“Yeah, let me just finish this,” I said, typing as fast as I could, my fingers and brain in a familiar creative race.
“If we don't leave right now, we're both going to be late,” she said.
I glanced at the clock: 3:15pm. “Oh shit. Okay, I'm getting up now.”
I told my brain to take the ideas it was releasing and hold onto them for about two hours. My fingers and brain wanted to know who won the race, and I told them both that I didn't have time to invent one of my trademark conversations between things that can't actually converse. They didn't protest.
Though I wanted to stay at my desk and keep writing, I grabbed my stuff off my desk, slipped on my shoes, and went to the kitchen to fill my water bottle. Anne had come up with a solid plan: She had an appointment at 3:30, and I had a voice over session at 4, just down the road. For only the second time in our life together, we could actually carpool to our respective engagements, and it would be convenient. I must admit, I was excited by the idea, not only because we were doing something nice for the planet and saving money on gas and parking. I was excited because I love to spend time with my wife, even if it's just an extra 30 minutes while driving somewhere.
Anne wasn't nerdy like me when we started dating, and she isn't nerdy like me, now. She's been nerd-adjacent for thirteen years, though, so she's picked up an appreciation for some of the things I'm always geeking out about, like, polyhedral dice and their role in dispatching fantastic monsters, the existence of three (and only three) Star Wars films, produced between 1977 and 1983, and why I get twitchy when people holding food get too close to my comic books. It's no big secret that I love my wife, but just in case it wasn't clear: I love that she gets me, and I'm grateful for that every day.
I finished filling up my water, told my dogs I'd be right back, and walked out to the driveway, where Anne stood next to her car. I've always loved my VW Golf, but ever since Anne got her Mini Cooper last year, I've had massive vehicle envy. She knows this, and lets me drive it fairly often.
“I sure do like driving your car,” I said.
“I know.” She tossed me her keys. I caught them, and opened the doors.
We settled into our seats and she said, “Hey, it's a good thing we're not going to the same planet!”
She giggled and pointed to her shirt, and then to mine. “We're both wearing red shirts.”
“Did you just -“
“Yes, I did.”
“You are so awesome.”
She laughed. “I can't believe that I know what that means, and I'm not even a nerd.”
I started the car and pulled out of our driveway. “I think it's a side effect of spending the last thirteen years with me. Sorry about that.”
“It's okay. I don't mind.”
I drove up our street and headed toward the freeway. A few blocks from our neighborhood, I saw another Mini coming toward us.
“I'm totally going to do the Mini wave,” I said. The Mini wave is something our friend Troy told us about when Anne got her car. He said that, by owning a Mini, we were granted admission to a secret club with other Mini owners who will park next to us, wave at us, and let us change lanes in front of them in traffic.
I waited until the appropriate moment, and lifted my left hand off the wheel, shaking it quickly to one side and back. It's a very cool move that I may or may not have practiced a few dozen times to get just right.
I waited for the oncoming Mini driver to return the gesture, acknowledging and thus solidifying our mutual relationship in the secret Mini club, but it passed us without so much as a glance, much less the Mini wave I'd been so excited to receive.
“What just happened?” I said.
“I can tell you what didn't happen: The Mini wave.”
“Damn. How could someone not do the Mini wave?”
“I have to tell you something.” She paused. “I never do the Mini wave.”
A gasp of horror involuntarily escaped my lips. “What?! How can you not do the Mini wave? You get to drive your Mini every day! Every day dawns anew, granting potentially dozens of opportunities to participate in the secret Mini club!”
“Did you notice that the person driving that Mini was a girl?” she asked in a voice that I've come to recognize as The Patient Wife Who Is Married To A Geek Voice.
“Yeah, so wh-” It hit me, and I understood. “It's a boy thing, isn't it? Girls don't care.”
She touched the tip of her right index finger to her nose.
I continued, “Boys like to have clubhouses and clubs and secret handshakes and – my God, why did I never realize this before?”
“Because you're a boy.”
“Oh my God, you're right.” I drove up to the freeway in stunned silence.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, I'm fine,” I said, as I got a great idea – the kind of brilliant idea that could only be devised by a boy who likes clubhouses and secret handshakes.
“Hey, I was just thinking … maybe we should trade cars, since you're not taking advantage of the whole 'membership in the secret club' thing.”
“Yeah, we're not going to do that.”
“But we could …”
“Um. Wil? You're wearing a red shirt.”
“…both still drive and – what?”
“You're wearing a red shirt. Maybe you shouldn't press your luck.”
Man, I love it that she gets me.
“I see what you did there.”
A few minutes later, I dropped her off.
She leaned over and kissed me before she got out of the car. “I love you,” she said.
“I love you the most,” I said.
“Wave at as many people as you want.”