To understand this story it helps to know who Frank is. And to know that, you have to be familiar with the movie Cars. In Cars, Lightening McQueen, a famous racecar, is sentenced to rebuild a road in the small desert town of Radiator Springs after he accidentally destroys said road while fleeing the police (it’s all a big misunderstanding, but as often happens in drama, without that misunderstanding there would be no plot, so go with it). Lightening learns to love the other cars in the town, and in particular becomes great friends with a battered old tow truck named Mater.
Mater is a bit of a hillbilly, and takes Lightening out one night to do some tractor tipping (i.e. cow tipping). He warns Lightening to look out for Frank. Soon enough Lightening and Mater are being chased across a moonlit field by Frank: an angry, rampaging combine (bull).
Gabriel adores this movie. He obsessively collects all the characters (he has not one, but four Lightenings, one for each of the various paint jobs the character sports in the film) and is constantly recreating scenes. We cannot go on a simple family walk without Gabe scraping his foot through the dirt (imitating Lightening accidentally ripping up the road in Radiator Springs) or bellowing out full-throated roars (imitating Frank). And when Gabe gets in his Cars zone, it’s next to impossible to get his attention or shift his focus. Just ask Erika, who more than once has located Gabriel in the grocery store by listening to the calls of “Mac! Mac!” (imitating Lightening’s frantic search for his big rig transport when he first finds himself alone in the desert) from two aisles over.
Fast forward to today. Gabe and I went for a walk down by the Bay. I was envisioning a Mayberry moment (whistling while we walk by the bay, skimming stones). What I got was drag, drag, dust cloud, dust cloud.
“Will you stop dragging your foot like that, PLEASE!?” I fumed at one point.
“Why?” Gabe asked.
“Because sometimes it’s nice just to walk together,” I replied. “You don’t always have to pretend to be Lightening.”
Gabe did not seem convinced, but he tried walking in the plants for awhile, to appease me, I guess. On our way back to the car he started looking back furtively.
“Hurry,” he said, “Frank’s coming.” This went on for the next hundred yards or so to our car; furtive glance, “Frank’s coming, hurry.” At one point he let slip that “I’m pretending that those people are Frank.”
I looked back. Frank turned out to be an African American family of four. And my kid’s been dashing away and nervously glancing at them for the past hundred yards. As we climbed into our car and drove away, I thought I saw the father giving me a LOOK. I just bowed my head and moaned.