She started the car and the end of the 10,000 Maniacs cover of “Because the Night,” blared from the speakers. I didn’t know that then, but that version of the song was very familiar. Still, it always was a little soft for the metalhead that I was in the 90s. I had to avoid girl music.
“Oh shit, no,” she said and restarted the song from the beginning. I laughed. She put the windows down and opened the sunroof. The heat pounded in the window, but almost immediately the swell of the music seemed to keep it at bay. Pittsburgh in August can be brutal, but the car felt open, freer. The music played on, spilling from the windows into crowded city streets as we idled in front of the red light. People were staring, and she turned to me. Her face had sharp angles, that when arranged into the smile she wore at the moment made her perfect. Before she turned towards the people on the sidewalk staring at the car, she twisted her face into a hard sneer. She leaned back in her seat and nodded her head to the beat, as if listening to the Wu-Tang Clan instead of a crooning Natalie Merchant. I laughed again. By the next red-light, I wore a similar sneer and randomly gesticulated at line breaks in the lyrics. The stares sent our way asked a hundred questions that were only answered with insatiable laughter as we sped away when the light turned green.