Blue Impala, and: Dancing Under the Stars
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Blue Impala, and: Dancing Under the Stars

Blue Impala

That time I stole a blue Impala in Flagstaffthe first year they made those automatic windows, you know?I was sixteen and I was cruising down the highway

On the trail to AlbuquerqueI was hungry    and I was howling, man

It was like stealing the best horse in the herd [End Page 49]

Dancing Under the Stars

The Spark/Going to a Lot of Trouble

You know how you get that tingle, that little spark when you feel he’s interested and maybe you are too? It all began with that spark that made me put on my skirt with the little slit on the side. That morning I was careful putting on my makeup. Everything had to coordinate. My hair, my clothes, my shoes. Even a little spray of cologne and I was off to the library to give him the new tapes in exchange for the ones he dubbed for me. Now that I think of it he must’ve gone to a lot of trouble to do this for me. We were both going to a lot of trouble.

We met in the library where he was working on his sociology paper. “Shall I write it for you?” I joked. “No, I have to do this.” Right away I liked his integrity. I expected him to jokingly say, “Yeah, would you?” He knew I had a graduate degree in Communications. He also said that I was successful.

That was the first time a man ever described me like that. That’s how he saw me. A week earlier we had been on a field trip when I kept asking the BLM agent, that’s Bureau of Land Management, questions about the gas lines that spread all over one of the sacred mountains we were standing on. It was a cultural issue and I wanted answers. I must have grilled him for five minutes. When it was over, he held open his backpack and offered to carry my water and camera for me. “That’s okay,” I said. “You sure?” he asked again. He looked full of confidence, all 20 something years of him. He was a gentleman, offering to carry my burden. “Thanks,” I said, and I handed over my camera and water bottle for him to lug around in the heat.

On the way back to the van, he told me he’d been in the military and had been to the countries around the Mediterranean. Geez, he must have been only a few years older than my oldest son. I was beginning to feel my years peel back, or maybe it was the spark that I mentioned earlier.

Back in the library I noticed the small pile of mud where he rested his feet. The image of my kid’s mud trails in the house flashed through my mind. I gave him the tapes and thanked him again for dubbing the lectures. We shook hands and I was all set to go, yet reluctant to leave. The semester was over and we wouldn’t see each other again. I was in that awkward space wanting to prolong the moment but there’s nothing to do but get on with it. I wasn’t thinking fast enough to find a way to hang around a little longer. I [End Page 50] could’ve plopped myself down in front of the next computer and said, “I need to check my e-mail.” He must’ve felt the same way because all of a sudden he blurted out, “Would you like to have dinner?”

The spark flashed brighter. How old is he anyway? Does he know how old I am? He doesn’t act like a regular rez Indian; he knows how to ask for a date.

“Yes,” I said. I hoped I didn’t sound too eager. I must be at least 10 years older than him … okay 20 years older but whose counting?

Iced Tea and Root Beer

We meet in a restaurant. He gets there before I do. I order iced tea, he orders root beer. I look around at the...