Rocky Road Trip

There was no avoiding the ice cream. See, my friend Nick invited me over for what he called a ridiculously healthy dinner. But he made one fatal mistake-he served me the twigs and green things in front of a TV displaying a documentary on ice cream.

During a commercial break, Nick professed his love for Cold Stone Creamery and his regret that there was none close by. Doubting him, I Googled the name and found a Cold Stone. It was late at this point-just after 9pm-but this particular shop was open for another 45 minutes.; Problem was, it was an hour away, according to Google.

“No problem,” I said as the two of us flung our half-eaten plates of healthiness aside and ran down the stairs towards the Volkswagen Tiguan parked out front. VW says the Tiguan is the GTI of SUVs and we were going to verify that claim. We ran out of the building like it was on fire, over to the Tiguan, and headed out of the parking spot at full throttle.

A front-wheel drive GTI would have easily laid 100 feet of rubber-a far more dramatic exit-but the Tiguan put all the turbo four’s horses to the ground uneventfully. And continued to do so as I drove like an animal across town and onto the interstate. An average of 90 mph ought to get us there in time, and I put Nick on cop duty because I had left my radar detector at home. So much for thinking that a ridiculously healthy dinner would be followed by a ridiculously lazy drive home.

Under this kind of life-or-death pressure, the Tiguan’s leisurely acceleration didn’t exactly feel sports car-like, but the VW maintained near-triple-digit speeds comfortably. When we finally reached our highway exit, we had exactly nine minutes until the store closed. We could relax slightly, as the navigation system said we were only five minutes away. See, speeding does pay! (Just kidding. Always follow the posted speed limit lest you die in a fiery crash. Professional Driver on a closed course. Do not try this at home.) Practically tasting the creamy deliciousness in my mouth, I didn’t bother to slow down much for the exit ramp, sliding through all 270 degrees of slightly banked, constant-radius corner with all four tires howling and the stability control light flashing.

“Oh yeah, the GTI of SUVs,” Nick laughed, as I flew past a 25-mph sign that was flashing at us. And then, the inevitable. More flashing-from behind, coming from a police car. An award-winning string of expletives ends only when I roll down the window for the officer.

“You in a rush tonight?” he asks.

There’s a pause. “Actually, to be honest, kind of, yeah,” I say, smiling.

“Oh, really? You guys have a hot date or something?”

“Oh no, nothing nearly that cool. See, we just drove almost an hour because the doofus in the passenger seat wants Cold Stone. And they’re closing in eight minutes.” Nick nods. “Seriously, I couldn’t make this sh*&t up if I tried.” Oh fantastic, I not only just admitted that we’re idiots, but I dropped the four-letter poopy-word directly to the cop’s face. He laughs a little, and then regains his composure.

After asking me couple of questions about who owns the VW, the officer takes my license and goes back to his car. I go back and forth between consoling myself that I reduced my chances of getting the ticket by making the officer laugh and being hysterical that, after all my heinous speeding, we’re not going to get our ice cream. And I’m probably going to jail.

The officer comes back to the window, hands me my license and explains that he’s waiting for the call back that there are no warrants out for me. In the meantime, I get a well-deserved speech about slowing it down a little. And not sliding around exit ramps.

“Oh, you saw that too?” I asked, shocked.

“More heard than saw, but then you flew past me at 50 mph, so I knew it was you.”

Yikes. Okay, even the most flagrant speeders should agree that doubling the speed limit is excessive. In my own defense, I was still slowing down from the exit ramp-even I don’t double speed limits. Just then, the call came through his radio that (miraculously) there were no warrants for my arrest. The officer tapped the door sill and said “Slow it down, and enjoy your ice cream, guys.”

Easy for him to say. We now had only four minutes to get to Cold Stone. I did my best to keep the speeds under, say, double the speed limit, but it wasn’t looking good. I made Nick call the store and beg them to stay open.

“No, sir, listen. I understand you’re closing in two minutes, but we’re only two and a half minutes away! This is a matter of life and death, and we just drove an hour to get here. An hour! To top it off, my friend, who’s driving, just got pulled over for doubling the speed limit and sliding around an exit ramp. Seriously. This is Code Red. We need Cold Stone! I made him eat spinach for dinner, for Pete’s sake!” Nick’s voice was now at mezzo-soprano pitch. Not a good sign.

I couldn’t make out what the guy on the other end was saying, but I could hear a distinct lack of amusement in the squawking coming from the phone. No matter, though, because we pulled up in front of the building at 10:00pm sharp, just as the manager, still on his cordless phone with Nick, was walking towards the front door to lock it. Perhaps it was the squealing of a full-ABS panic stop ten feet in front of the store, or perhaps it was the look on both of our faces as we threw ourselves out of the Tiguan like two car-chase perps on Cops, but the manager stopped dead his tracks.

And gave us our ice cream.

There are a few things to be learned. One, the Tiguan is, in some ways, the GTI of compact SUVs. Two, don’t slide around exit ramps when a state policeman is within earshot. And most importantly, don’t ever do something so stupid as eating twigs and branches if you’re going to watch a documentary on ice cream. You’ll wind up almost getting arrested on your way to the ice cream shop.


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