Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

Quad 3

Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Waverly, Iowa

“Shut up dude. Stop making fun of my car.”

We were all assholes at sixteen, though the nerdy like Brian and I had particular warrant to swear and curse, tossing what little oracular weight we had like cigarettes into the world’s sewers. Idealistic and disillusioned, I turned from the world. Brian was more pragmatic, a go-with-the-flow fellow, and our peers took to it — not in droves but enough to incite my envy.

The attention fed his ego, and though Brian’s assholicism developed at the usual tempo it quickened in time with the engine of his new Cutlass.

There’s one outside my window as I write — same but for a shade lighter — and like then, I don’t get the appeal. I still prefer my family’s little Escorts (including my own) to big GM steel.

For Brian, somehow, the Cutlass was more than cool. If it was the engine, I don’t get that either. Not even on 47 did Woodstock’s speed top 35, and the drive was languid either side of school, a whole five miles from his house.

He was proud — so it was great to see vanity bite him.

When he ordered his plates, rather than letting the state number his like the rest of ours, Brian requested something so unoriginal, so obvious that it already flanked the engine in block letters. Brian wanted his license plate to read, QUAD 4.

And the DMV responded, beautifully: We’re sorry, that plate has already been issued. We have given you this instead…