If Google succeeds in developing a marketable, and not prohibitively expensive “driverless” car, they will have achieved something remarkable. Not least because a car that drives itself and avoids collisions should cause fewer traffic deaths and injuries.
But two facts temper our enthusiasm for the enterprise. First, as with any new technology, for each problem the self-driving car solves, a new and novel one will arise.
Moreover, a self-driving car will do nothing to alleviate what is arguably the biggest problem caused by the car: which is that most people need their own. So much of the built environment has been reoriented, or totally constructed around personal automobile use, that you can’t use it unless you have one. In other words, the biggest problem with the driverless car is that it is still a car. It drives itself, but you still have to pay for it, insure it, fuel it, and store it somewhere.
A far better way to reduce traffic deaths and injuries, and human misery generally, would be to invest in mass transit, and to build more densely.
Throwing Riley under the bus in GM Secret of Life...
So, I was thinking about that moment in GM Secret of Life when Maya sort of…hesitates before making the “That had to hurt” crack.
Up to that point in the episode, Maya’s been more verbally and visibly concerned with Riley’s reaction to all this. But after Lucas get so visibly upset at lunch, I think Maya just wants to make him feel better. And she does that by throwing Riley’s “gave birth to a horse” misspeak under the bus. I think Maya hesitates because she’s poking fun at Riley, but the urge to try to get Lucas to laugh and cheer up a little was stronger than Maya’s usual urge to protect Riley in that moment. Which is…interesting.
And Lucas appreciates it so much! He grins at her broadly and twirls his fork and it’s the first time we *really* see him calm down and smile since the moment Zay walked in. (He gives this kind of…flat smile when Riley says she likes him, but it’s nothing compared to his reaction to “I finally like you” or “that had to hurt”). But again, that moment of relief kinda comes at the expense of Riley…and Lucas doesn’t seem to mind that at all.
So then you get the “you’re still SUCH a Huckleberry” moment right before Riley flips all the way out. And then (I’ve mentioned this before), back in the classroom after the car wash scene, it’s as if Lucas is…grounding himself by looking at Maya. He has that heated exchange with Riley, but he glances at Maya before going there. And then he glances at Maya again after he apologizes and says he’s “working on it.” And he possibly looks at Maya again when he reassures Cory that he’s “okay” as he’s leaving the classroom.
In canon, we have no evidence that Riley calms Lucas down when he’s angry or upset. And in GM Secret of Life, she actually exacerbates it.
But Maya? Maya jumped his back in GM Flaws when she thought he was about to do something he’d regret. (And I don’t doubt that she would have done it again in Secret of Life if she thought he was out of control, tbh). And obviously Maya chills Lucas out a bit in GM Secret of Life a coupla times. (And I’m not discounting that adorbs little Riley/Lucas moment when they forget their issues for a sec to mess with Farkle, but that’s not the same thing). There’s arguably another moment like that in GM Rileytown when Maya makes the “pick up the bed” joke and it kinda…stops him for a second.
Basically, Maya isn’t afraid of Lucas when he’s spooled up. But Riley is. And it’s OKAY for Riley to feel that way. But Maya is the one who can actually handle it, stop it, make him smile when he’s wigging out. So far, anyway.
But that moment at the lunch table…Maya makes Lucas smile like a dope at Riley’s expense. And he is just…so grateful for it. For a second or three, it’s like Riley isn’t even there.
It just really sticks out to me that Riley was the butt of the joke, and that Maya made it anyway, and that Lucas was so crazy-appreciative about it.
So, we keep calling the baby horse story a “pick-up” story (myself included, on occasion), but I dunno if that’s really the case.
For one thing, when we first hear the palomino story in GM Boy, it comes up naturally. Riley brings up her hamster, Lucas talks about horses, Riley seems interested, so he tells a cool story about a newborn horse and how he thinks he might want to be a vet. And this story basically defines him for Riley from then on. Lucas, to Riley, is a super cute future horsey doctor from then on.
So, in GMT3, Maya says, “gimme the best you got.” And Lucas kind makes this…mischievous face as he turns to face Maya and then says he DELIVERED a baby horse. Part of me wonders if Lucas wasn’t calling back to the moment in Secret of Life, as if it were an in-joke. The line is delivered in such a way that it could be taken as entirely in earnest, but he’s also leaning in and kinda using that “well, what do I seem like to you?” voice so…idk.
And yeah, Maya dumps the smoothies on his head, but what if it WASN’T because she was annoyed by the “same story” thing? Maya teases Lucas because she likes him. He’s just (maybe) made a callback to a pretty significant moment they shared, albeit at Riley’s expense. That smoothie dump is mockery writ large, and Maya’s means of dealing with Lucas feels for so long has been mocking him…what if she dumped the smoothies because she was tickled as hell? (And maybe a little bit because, come on, let’s face it, they were totally vibing on kind of a diss on Riley in the original moment).
I dunno. Just a thought. Only spitballing, I’m not climbing up this hill to die on it or anything. Maybe Lucas really ain’t got no other pick up line…but after the dump(s), he cracks a joke pretty much immediately, like…(and Maya’s face when he just smiles at her…she’s so shocked by it, like…😂)
BONUS STRAY THOUGHT: isn’t it weird how, in the bay window right after, Maya only tells Riley about the awkward-can’t talk part of the date, and NOT about dumping smoothies on Lucas and then smiling at each other like dopes? Hrrrmmm.