This week, the New York Times reported that texting and driving causes a comparable amount of fatal accidents to drinking and driving. It suggested that in the future, taking a selfie behind the wheel will be considered just as despicable as driving drunk.
If that’s the case, then we are currently in the 1970s of texting and driving. Hunter S. Thompson drank a ton of booze and did a bunch of drugs behind the wheel of a car and wrote about it in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And that made him incredibly cool. Below, an excerpt from my novel, Duck Face and Texting in Hoboken, which will one day make me seem as cool as Hunter S. Thompson:
We were somewhere around Hoboken on the edge of the swamp that consumes the Jersey side of Manhattan when the phone began to ring. I remember saying something like, “I want to answer it, maybe you should drive…” when suddenly the urge to pick it up was like a thousand bees swarming the car, which was going about 65 miles an hour towards Hoboken.
Then it was quiet again. The phone stopped ringing and the phantoms left my head long enough to look over and see my boss ironically Instagramming the sick industrial Jersey skyline. “What the hell were you yelling about,” she yammered in her $300 Gucci sunglasses. “Never mind. You gotta drive.” I wasn’t about to tell her about the bees. She’d be seeing them soon enough.
We screeched to a halt on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway and she took the wheel for our lunatic journey. Our editor-in-chief gave us $500 to post-ironically review the Hoboken mall. I was slumped with my head out the window as my hand floated off my arm and started Snapchatting those puffy New Jersey clouds streaming by the window. My boss was no better- her phone was buzzing now and with one eye wild on the road she was messaging her Tinder match. As the bees started swarming again, I was sure that the police were going to hunt us down like dogs.
Jesus! Did I say that? Or was I texting it to my boyfriend? All this phone garbage I’d been cramming into my body since we left Soho was making my consciousness blink in and out.
My boss had one hand on the wheel and one hand on her phone, searching through Google to make sure we could score some Auntie Ann’s pretzels once we arrived at the mall.
The car suddenly veered off the road and we came to a grounding halt in the swampy mess that is the side of the Garden State Parkway. I was slumped against the door and my boss had banged her head against the wheel. “What the fuck,” I yelled. “We can’t stop here, there’s bees!” “You don’t actually hallucinate bees when your cellphone rings Madalyn, give it a rest!”
She didn’t get it. This trip was important. A journey from Mahattan to the inner belly of America. A gross, physical salute to the possibilities of life in this country- but only for those with true grit and the ability to capture it on Snapchat and Instagram at the same time. And I was chock full of that. My phone was fully, gloriously charged.
“I want to live!” I texted my boss as we pulled back onto the Parkway. We were so deep in the blurry bottom of this great fool’s errand that we didn’t even talk to each other for another hour and a half. Just messaged each other in a GroupMe that no one else was a part of.
The car sputtered to a stop. Somehow we were in dreary Pennsylvania without a drop of gas and had been too busy flying high on hilarious Vines to notice. “I thought you were fucking looking at Waze,” my boss moaned.
I wasn’t. I was buried deep in Neko Atsume. But I was looking out over the Appalachians into the future of this dusky country as the bees were swarming everywhere, and whatever else was true, you were goddamn right I wasn’t coming down from this iPhone trip any time soon.