Shapely Sharon, who came from a Tennessee family too rich and laughed like a pirate, was driving us, a while back, on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill (notoriously pronounced locally as Sure-kill) Expressway… And she was ambling along rather sanely for a change. That is, it seemed as if she wasn’t aiming to play bumper cars like she had with her two previous oversized BMWs.
The highway – it is worth noting – took 20 years to construct. Because no one from the wealthy western suburbs wanted the damn thing in their bucolic backyard. So it got pushed down by the river with the eponymous name Schuylkill. Which is actually pronounced ‘School-kill.’
And from the first day it finally opened some 60 or so years back it was already jammed with more creeping cars and angry drivers than it was planned and engineered to operate. Obviously the planners and engineers went to the wrong operating ‘school.’
As former President Eisenhower, who pushed America’s highway expansion, once famously noted: Plans are a waste. But planning is everything.
Hmm… I think I must have overheard that cocktail-party palaver spilling from some ‘professorial type’ blinded by the urbane reflection in his morning mirror.
Anyway, Sharon was planning to get us to our tennis match in plenty of time.
Then, about two miles before we had to veer off to a connecting highway crossing the river, a couple of crazy dudes came roaring up like rush-hour-Rambos.
They practically velcroed to our bumper. They were maniacally honking their horn. Jerking their car mumbo-jumbo between gas pedal and brakes. And all the while mouthing and waving all sorts of curious gestures of displeasure.
The southern belle in Sharon seemed unfazed. She merely smiled and wiggled her long right-hand fingers ‘hello’ in the rearview mirror. Which only fueled more of their furious charades.
“I know this just makes them crazy,” laughed Sharon, contentedly proud of her happy, waving response that she again repeated in the mirror. “But northern boys can be soooo uncivilized. Whats-a-matter-with-yawl?”
I just loved-loved-loved the way she drawled out the word ‘un-si-ville-eyes.’ It stirred me in places. Good thing I had a couple of tennis towels on my lap. But that didn’t stop me from furtively appreciating her long alabaster legs that stretched divinely from beneath that short, silky-white tennis dress.
Nevertheless, Sharon had to maintain her lane for the exit. Besides, there really was no place else for us, or them, to go. It was the evening slap-leather and drive-home time. Disturbed car navigators were all around us. And no one was of the kinder-gentler disposition to bow out of anybody’s way. Especially with everybody’s temperature simmering like late-afternoon July heat.
Then suddenly the two dudes in the car – a deep-throated, supercharged English racing green machine — abruptly zigged and zagged and were in the passing lane right beside us. With still no further place to go.
They had rolled down their windows. And the guy with wild distorted hair in the suicide seat was banging his big ol’ muscled forearm against his car door. At the same time he screamed all sorts of challenging, crude, biological and anatomical etymology at us. But mostly at Sharon.
At that, Sharon electronically lowered her window, blew them a kiss and laughed as her long black hair danced into the windy space between the two gliding cars: “Do your Mamas know they raised two big assssssss-holes? You boys deserve an Oscar.”
She sounded so ‘civilized’ in her coquettish excoriation. And that only made these two bad boys spew something more vile than one of my bitter exes once accused me of performing, putatively with the neighbor’s goat.
It wasn’t a goat…
Obviously these two ‘gentlemen’ had made grand use of their natural intelligence — to invent stupidity. And they did sort of solve the riddle of what happens when an abortion fails.
Anyway, did I happen to mention that Bruce had been sitting quietly in the back seat?
Bruce is sort of a mixed-bag of American ethnicities. He’s coiffed with a discomfiting, short buzz. His upper lip snarls and curls naturally. And when he talks there is a lot of attitude in a voice that is sort of hybrid Irish pug-boxer with a real-Italian, wise-guy-you-talkin’-to-me-motha-f-k-a!
He doesn’t exactly smile as much as he smolders.
Bruce is the type of guy that can’t cavalierly suggest he’s going to kill you without looking like he really means it. He’s big, but not overly. He’s not overly tough looking either. He just seems to always be wearing one of those hockey goalie masks. I don’t know if he’s always been like this. But since Vietnam, and someplace else that bent the context of his mind, he’s always been like this.
Anyway, Bruce was apparently two quarts over on this nonsense. To the former police reporter there are only two races on this planet – the intelligent who don’t need advice, and the stupid who don’t take it.
‘You can’t fix stupid,’ uttered Bruce.
Actually Bruce didn’t care about fixing it. He wanted to disintegrate the whole matter – much like he helped disintegrate the scum and junkies much worse than these two barnstorming punks from his old neighborhood.
And, in an abrupt side-arm, he thrust two pennies he picked off Sharon’s floor-mats. Both slapped and nicked the two-guy’s car glossy green sheen.
That lit the fuse to their volatile powder keg. The idiot in the suicide seat raged and bellowed in furious opera about how he was going to ‘f-k us up!’
Simply amazing, isn’t it? And isn’t it just typical of us ‘evolved’ homo-sapiens. Our wars, as always, spring from unseen and generally insignificant causes. And the first outbreak often being just an explosion of anger.
A momentary madness.
And yet we do what we do… over and over and over again.
And in the end we are once more left to ponder: How the hell does it always get to this? Just where does all this anger over absolutely nothing come from? Why do we never seem to recognize that if we’re always getting ‘even’ we can never get ahead.
In peace we preach poetically about love and duty… dignity and honor. But in practice we are always so quick to actively hate. And we lose control.
And the next thing you know there you are. While driving along in your tennis whites to merely pummel some guy in a civilized war on lawn tennis courts, you instead end up shooting it out with some idiots on the asphalt highway.
Shocking, isn’t it?! Like drunkenly sticking your tongue into an electrical outlet, momentarily figuring it will elicit some astonishing revelation. And all it demonstrates is that stupidity never sleeps.
Indeed, life is tough – but even tougher if you’re stupid.
And, for one of the few times in my life I can honestly declare: It wasn’t my fault. At least not this time. Not this Jewish guy. I hadn’t said a word. I wasn’t doing any mentally retarded games. I hadn’t reacted with a gesture. Or mouthed any expletives. Or even asked for his sister’s phone number…
Nothing! Nada! And even Bruce hadn’t said or done a thing until just now.
So what is wrong with this picture? Or is it just men being men. We fight over anything. And women, G-d’s second mistake, fight over nothing. We fight the enemy within each of us. And no one seems to be man enough to just scream: Stop it!
Just stop it.
But we don’t. And who thinks clearly when his fists are clenched?
Amidst all this, Bruce quietly went into his crazy-vet act. He sharply yanked up, gripped with both his fleshy hand-mitts, what positively resembled a black, .45 semi-automatic.
What dah hell?… what duh heck!
Bruce simply snorted calmly, but forcefully – like a man who just don’t care no more: “Yo!.. Buddy!.. Apologize to the lady… Now!… Before you flip Aces and Eights…”
Say wot? It didn’t matter. You could almost hear the guys all the way in the other car abruptly changing their minds.
Then I curiously noticed that Bruce’s gun didn’t seem real. And I finally realized it must have been one of Sharon’s young son’s toys. An old one – a relic – with no orange on the muzzle. The back floor of a young mother’s car is always a Santa bag of surprises.
But the guy’s next to us didn’t notice any of this. And suddenly they got into some serious blinking. Turned a couple of shades paler than my used tennis balls. Their car seemed to crumple to its knees… like it had been shot through the oversized heart of its super engine. They darted to the narrow emergency lane, nicking a little more of that British racing green on the guard rail.
And after blinking myself a few disbelieving times, I finally whooped: “Now that was a beautiful thing!”
Bruce just yielded one of his big moon-pie smiles. And with little exuberance he intoned: “Their mamas be bleaching their underwear tonight.”
Following a few of her signature pirate laughs, Sharon, shrieked with southern delight: “That’ll civilize them Yankees.”
But of course.
As we continued our way to the Cricket Club Sharon kept up her joyful jabbering. About what a hoot it had all been. “Just the bee’s knees.”
And when we finally arrived George was impatiently waiting for us on the entrance porch. George, an aging CEO at an area pharmaceutical company, was a former Ivy League tennis team hacker who checkered his chatter with relic compliments like: “Just peachy.”
He also was one of the old school boys who grudgingly gave in to the prevailing club economics. And relinquished his objections to allowing blacks, and even Jews like me to join. I think he mostly just appreciated my no-mercy rule on the courts.
Now he was practically snorting to know why we were almost late for our match. He wasn’t including Bruce because everybody knew Bruce was only there to drink indulgently in the cane rocking chairs on the porch. And, naturally, to appreciate the elevated view of women like Sharon scampering about in their lacey whites.
I tossed George the toy handgun. ‘Got held up for a little target practice on the highway. Bruce got ‘em both.’
George was no more fazed than Sharon had been back on the expressway. “Should get yourself a real one,” he sniffed, handing me back the toy. “Nothing like dead skunks on the road. It’s peachy…”
This kind of stopped me momentarily in my tracks. I wanted to ask George a couple of baffling thoughts that were begging to be pursued. You know, were we talking about animal, mineral, vegetable… or just annoying assholes?
But I decided to just let the puzzle go unsolved. I didn’t know if I really needed to hear the answers. Especially with someone like George possibly having me in his cross-hairs.
It’s crazy, isn’t it? I mean everyone, everywhere. It just goes to show you that, indeed, there is a lot of anger out there in America… in the world… and probably throughout the universe. It almost seems like ninety percent of the planet is inhabited by angry fools; and the rest are in danger of contagion.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…