Like many of you, I drive to work every morning, enjoying the majestic mess of I-4 and the pleasant, welcoming snarl of Daytona Beach’s colorful construction areas.
Sure I enjoy it. Don’t you? Heavy traffic means lots of cars and bored drivers, and that means nonstop entertainment that’s better than any concert and wilder than the MTV Music Awards. And it’s free! All you need is a steady driving hand and good eyesight.
Ahead of me this morning was an SUV featuring a live performance of Pink’s ‘Get The Party Started’ by three teenage girls in the back seat. Just before the rest stop I was passed by a carload of business-suited pseudo-rappers. Behind me on Nova Road I could see a middle-aged man singing lustily along with Tina Turner (easily identified by the head-snapping motions). And the only thing separating a wildly gyrating soccer mom I saw yesterday morning and the Billboard Top 50 was actual talent.
There’s just something about singing in the car that rivals the shower for acoustics and comfort levels. When you’re stuck in traffic a car stereo is a private karaoke party, and the miles just zip past while you try to remember the third verse of ‘American Pie.’
People in their own cars rarely realize that other motorists can see them so clearly. It’s an unwritten law that no one looks at each other, from the same book that tells you to never, ever make eye contact with other people in a public bathroom, even if it’s a fireman trying to get you out. Each car, van, truck, and bus on the road is full of motorists secure in their own space, comfortable in the sure knowledge that no one would ever peer at them.
Except, of course, for me.
And they’re fantastic. Every car is like a bootleg music video. Drivers barrel down the highway with their music cranked up loud and they are, almost to a car, getting seriously jiggy. They sing. They dance. They pound the steering wheel. A few look as if they’d be stage diving if they weren’t buckled in.
Granted, sometimes the drivers are on their cell phones or chowing down on a sausage biscuit. I treat those cars like commercials, little breaks in the show that display goods and services I might enjoy. Occasionally I might see a public service announcement such as the guy in the black Honda Accord that sails past me every morning while doing a crossword puzzle, a sight that serves as a valuable reminder for driving safety.
Occasionally one of the artists will notice me and clam up fast. They might glare once or twice, but mostly they stare straight ahead and speed up to get to a comfort zone where they can start singing again. Prima donnas, I call ’em. If the Internet has taught us anything it’s that music is meant to be shared. This is why I don’t like sunshades, window tinting, or those big rear window grilles, they make me feel like I’m sitting behind the pole at a concert.
My absolute favorites are the performers that are listening to the same radio station I am. Then I’m front row, with my own radio turned up full blast, hooting and screaming at the stage (i.e. the other car) as they gyrate. If I really enjoyed the song I’ll turn on my blinkers and yell for more.
During slow songs I’ll even perform a duet, singing soulfully in harmony, probably, with my unsuspecting roadmate. It does feel a bit creepy singing a love song with someone who doesn’t know you’re there and would be speed-dialing 911 if they did, but I just tell myself that we’re in separate studios.
So drive carefully, everyone, and smile. It’s showtime. I’ll be the one practicing my Tina Turner impersonation.