One of my favorite classes at Penn State was titled “The Rhetoric of Space” and dealt with various philosophies and theories on how people regarded space, how space changed people, and how to change spaces. Thats a very inadequate summary, but it’s difficult to summarize a semester long reading intensive rhetoric course. To continue with the philosophical butchering, one of the ideas we studied was that about “private” and “public” space. (Private being inside your home for example, Public being businesses, schools, etc). Like most philosophy, grey areas are rampant, and in this case duly labled “Public-private spaces”. For example, the pertinent part of this introduction, inside your car. Your car is, kind of, a private place. We view it mostly as such, people hold business in cars, have “private” conversations whether on the phone or with another occupant, and we “decorate” or maintain our cars as we choose. Their is a propietery ownership of the space inside your own car. However, your car has windows. For most people, these windows aren’t tinted dark enough to warrant true “privacy” and all those other drivers can watch you put on your mascara one handed in the rearview mirrow, can see you get angry and gesticulate wildly in a heated conversation with whoever else is in the car, and they can watch as you sing a long to the radio. Sometimes, we are conscious of this voyerism. Sometimes, I definitely am not.
Last night was dreary and grey and rainy, like the past couple of nights, and I was headed off to work with an inadequate days sleep. Remus had managed to trip over his chain and fall down the porch steps and I had kept him inside after that, letting him out as needed. Feeling antsy, tired and annoyed at the depressive weather, I chose a mixed CD Brian had made for me the year prior and loaded it into my car’s CD player. Over half of my 40 minute commute is a two lane country highway, and last night the traffic was even sparser than usual. As my CD played I found myself caught up in the music and began exuberantly singing along. And I mean exuberantly. I repeated some songs, fine tuning the dance routines I made to match, belting out the lyrics at the top of my lungs because I was in my own car, my own private space, noone else could hear me. Well, this was all well and good on the two lane highway with no cars in sight, but I was so enthusiastic, I didn’t realize until halfway up the traffic and stoplight dense portion of my drive that people were open mouthed staring at me. The truck next to me (the highway has turned to a five lane highway at this point) was pointedly making sure he’s driving the same speed I am, even though his lane was moving faster, to take open glances at my bouncing musical renditions. To top it all off, I am in my neon reflective jacket, so I’m hardly inconspicuous. To stop now that I’ve noticed I had an audience seemed somehow shameful, so I sang lustier than ever and took every opportunity to speed up and lose the truck. Then, thankfully, a coworker called and I had a legitimate excuse to turn down the music and stop my theatrical antics.
I shrugged away any embarrassment. I hadn’t recognized the truck driver or his occupants and in the size of this city I convinced myself that noone I actually knew had seen my embarrassing performance. However, the fun of singing so ridiculously had me smiling and happy, dreary weather not withstanding, when I clocked in at work, and I even rebelliously sung a few bars in hearing range of coworkers when I walked into the bay to claim my ambulance.