When I was young, I remember witnessing an odd conversation between my cousin and my uncle. As I remember things, my cousin said she wanted a yellow car of some type when she grew up. Yellow cars are very cool, after all. I know many people think red cars are the coolest, but red is too obvious. A red car wants everyone to know that it is better than everything else. A yellow car THINKS it’s cooler than everything else, but can’t be bothered to care if you agree or not. (Yes, yellow cars are all jerks!)
Anyway, my uncle, overhearing my cousin’s car preferences, said “Why would you want to get a yellow car? You’d never be able to drive it.” My cousin chuckled and rolled her eyes a little, as if this made total sense to her,. I, however, had no idea what they were talking about. So my cousin kindly explained my uncle’s theory about yellow cars, which is as follows: if you think about it, you really never see two yellow cars driving on the same road at the same time. This is because there is a rule against it. There can never be more than one yellow car driving on any given street at any given time. This rule is explained to all yellow car owners at the time they purchase said yellow car. So, basically, you have to work out a system or schedule of some kind with all of the other yellow car owners to make sure you do not violate the yellow car limit.
Once I understood the background, I chuckled right along with my cousin at how funny her father could be sometimes. How silly it would be if that were true. What a kidder! But, over the years, I was often reminded of my uncle’s theory because I could never disprove it! Every time I saw a yellow car I would instantly begin scanning every other car in sight, searching for another. But there never was one.
So, eventually, I went off to college. One day, while driving around with my roommates, I shared my uncle’s theory with them. They immediately started trying to prove it false, just as I had been doing for years. But, over time, it somehow evolved into a contest between me and them. Their job was to find two yellow cars. If they did, my job was to explain the reason that those two yellow cars didn’t count and, thus, reinforce my uncle’s theory. Common examples for these reasons included things like, “No, only one of the cars was moving. The other one was stopped at that light because he knew he needed to wait for the other car to leave before he could start driving again.” Or, “Actually, a divided highway is considered two separate roads and those cars were headed different directions, which means they weren’t on the same road.” Or, when my roommate texted me a picture of two yellow cars she saw while riding with someone else, “This is a still picture. I see no evidence that either one, let alone BOTH, of those cars were actually moving.” As a result of these and other excuses that I used in our fun new game, some rules began to emerge:
- Both cars must be in motion at the same time.
- The cars must both be driving on the same road, not just both visible at the same time.
- The cars can be going opposite directions, but both directions must be connected parts of the same road. A divided highway is considered two separate roads.
- Taxis do not count.
- Neither do any other vehicles where the color is part of a business or service. (Such as a DHL delivery vehicle or something.) The vehicle must be intended for private, not business, use and the yellow color must be a purely cosmetic decision.
No one was ever able to produce an example of yellow car concurrence that fit the rules. There was always some reason why one or both of the cars didn’t “count”. The excuses didn’t even have to get silly or outlandish. There was always a reasonable way to disqualify each example that was given.
My husband and I met in college and he experienced my roommates and I playing our game. He, naturally, joined the resistance and also began looking for and pointing out yellow cars. One day, some time after we were married, we were driving along together when my husband said he could see two yellow cars driving on the same road. I began my usual checklist: they were both moving. We were on a divided highway, but they were both heading the opposite direction from us, meaning they were on the same road. I strained to see over the cement walls between us, while still paying attention to my own driving. As they passed us, I informed Brent of the sorry news: it didn’t count because one of the cars was a taxi and everyone knows taxis don’t count. He tried to argue with me, insisting that neither car was a taxi, but by this point they were out of sight and so he couldn’t confirm his claim. We argued playfully about it for a while and then moved on to other things.
Some time later, we were disagreeing about something. During the conversation I said something like, “You’re wrong. Just like you were wrong about the taxi.” The disagreement was forgotten and the Taxi War began anew. On another occasion, Brent tried something like, “Who are we going to believe? Me, or someone who can’t even tell the difference between a taxi and a regular car?” And again we dived right in. This became a pattern that continued… and continued… for several years! In the midst of a disagreement, one of us would try to use our position on the taxi as proof of our rightness, bringing on the debate again. We even began betting on it. When one of us was REALLY sure we were right, we would try to make a deal where we would research the point in question and whichever one of us was wrong about that would have to concede defeat on the taxi issue as well. Phrases like “I’ll bet you the taxi that I’m right,” and “How sure are you? Taxi sure?” were commonly used, and usually resulted in the other person backing down because neither of us wanted to take that bet. The stakes were just too high.
Well, not long ago, Brent and I were having another little disagreement. At one point, I pulled out one of the classics like, “I was right about the taxi and I’m right about this.” Then, Brent did the unthinkable! He said, “You know, it’s been so long I don’t even remember who’s right anymore. I have no idea if it was a taxi or not.” “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” I yelled. “How could you?! I’ve been lying to you about this for five years and now you go and just ruin everything! You monster!!” The shock on his face and the shouts of, “Are you kidding me?!” were terribly satisfying! So I told him the truth. When we saw the cars all those years ago, I saw that there was no way to disqualify them. So, I used the first excuse I could think of. I figured I would tell him after a while, but then it became a thing. And I was having a lot of fun with my new thing.
After I let Brent in on my secret, we both had a good laugh. Because, while some people might think it’s awful that I would lie to him for so many years, he had the good sense to realize how epically hilarious it was. But I was also a little/a lot sad. Because now I’ve lost my favorite mind game. Anyone have a good suggestion for a new one?
Life Lesson Learned: Sometimes, lying is fun.
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