Monday, September 21, 2015

A Driving Story In Which We Discuss Irony, Connotation, And Simile (And Any Other English Class Vocabulary You'd Like)

It was one of those rare times when I was zipping along on Rt. 58, driving admittedly well above the speed limit and with no one ahead of me for miles. Foolishly, I dared hope--no--believe that I was going to, as St. Patsy likes to say, Make Good Time for once on this damned road that is usually full of dawdlers, slowpokes, and Sunday Drivers.

Then I crested a hill and there it was, a boxy red car going Nowhere. I had to apply my brakes. On the highway. The speed limit is 55 on that particular stretch, and this car was travelling at a leisurely 42 mph. As is always the case with my fortunes, the double yellow line had appeared on the road as it became more hilly and winding, and I was stuck.

Irritated, I poked at the buttons of the radio and looked for some music or some interesting talk. Traffic coming the other way had begun to pick up a little, and I sighed loudly. It figured. Even when it was legal to pass this guy, opposing traffic might make it impossible.

I also found it annoying that the car was called a Nitro, according to the chrome plate on it. There was absolutely nothing about this vehicle that remotely suggested "Nitro" to me, which evokes in my mind explosions or speed or power or that one American Gladiator--remember him? Certainly not a square, stodgy car like this poky thing.


As I fumed and fussed, I noticed the offending car rocking just a little. It was then that I became aware of a huge dark mass moving around inside it. It was large enough to obscure the rear window a bit, and completely block the rearview mirror at times. "Holy crap," I said aloud. "What the hell is in there?"

Route 58 goes directly through a hamlet which is almost entirely a school zone, and trust me, this almost kills me. It also has two train crossings and a ton of construction. As I followed Red Nitro and approached this mess, I watched with growing curiosity the shape-shifter inside the car. Once we cleared the first train tracks and orange barrels, things became suddenly clearer.

The driver must have put all the windows down from a central control because as soon as we started moseying through town, an enormous dog head appeared through the rear passenger window and began barking. Loudly and a lot. At everything. Then the dog turned around, and its head appeared in another window to do the same on the other side. This went on--from all four windows in random succession--all the way through the small town, and it may well have gone on for the rest of his ride, however long it took. I will never know.

Because coming out of that village, I took advantage of the broken white line and passed Red Nitro. But before I did, I had ample time to notice a decal I had missed until we meandered through that maddening, tiny burgh. It was this one:

The story doesn't end there. A few days later, Rick and I dropped in on my brother at his lakehouse, and he was recounting an adventure he had just had while mowing his three lots with his riding mower. "It was terrible," he was telling St. Patsy. "I stopped the mower and sat there with my legs drawn up. That thing charged me with its teeth bared, barking like hell. It was the biggest German Shepherd I ever saw. And all the guy did was stand way over in his yard and keep calling to it. That dog didn't even hear him, or act like it did. I finally yelled, 'Can you just come over and get it?' And the guy comes over with the leash, gets the dog, and doesn't say a word to me. Not one."

Guess what was parked two doors down?

I think that his decal is maybe overselling it.

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  1. I so agree with you. I drive our mountain roads behind people who don't realize that one car might often pass a slow-moving bicycle but no one can pass both a car and a bike on these curves. And flatland idiots who brake going uphill. Or come to a full stop to admire a view or take a picture. Or fail to recognize that the turnout that says, "slow-moving traffic move right" might mean THEM if there are 15 cars behind their pokey selves. Or who speed up on the one straight piece of road where I might otherwise pass them. (OK, I've been known to gun my turbo and really speed up. She's a beaut.) As my dear husband calmly reminds me so often, "Yes, honey. You DO have to slow down for these idiots." Sorry for the rant but you have really hit a nerve. And now I feel better.

    1. NCmountainwoman--As a flatlander by birth and one who prefers not to drive in the mountainous regions, let me first say that I hope you take some pity on those of us who do speed up on straightaways, the places where we feel so damned much relief that we are COMPELLED TO GO FAST IN A STRAIGHT LINE BECAUSE FINALLY, WE CAN.

      I would never, ever, stop or even attempt to look at something beautiful or scenic while driving because I have apparently inherited the genetic trait from my father for inadvertently turning my entire car toward whatever it is that I am looking at. If this sends my vehicle plunging over the side of a cliff, well then, so be it. I understand this, so I firmly grasp my wheel and look only at the road ahead or my Sacred GPS, which is also ahead of me on my windshield (THANK GOODNESS), and drive, drive, drive.

      It is because of this grim determination that friends whom I visit know to serve me several glasses of wine upon my arrival. If they don't, I'm in bed for most of the next day with sore shoulders and neck from my drive.

      Sigh. I am SUCH a project.

  2. Nance, You don't need anger management, you just need people to stop pissing you off ! Also, I really admire the way you can roll your eyes in print!

    Now, if you had looked more closely at the license plate on the Nitro, you would have noticed that the owner was a member of the National Guard. You never know when you might need that guy to come and help you. I'm certain that if you were in distress, he would come to your aid with Alacrity..Now if he would just keep Alacrity on a leash.........

    1. Nancy--So lovely to have you back in Comments! We've missed you.

      Oh, yes. I roll my eyes textually all the time. Thanks for noticing.

      The dog's name is likely not Alacrity (nice one, though!) but I do know the owner's name. It's something suitably military and German-Shepherd-Owning, trust me. I can guarantee you that the dog's name is something like Wolf or Hans or Adolf or Klaus or something stern and German. If I find out, I will certainly let you know. With all alacrity.

  3. I have to drive through a similar stretch of road here when I go to get my hair cut. Even though the slowpokes and the curvy hills slow me down to a crawl, I prefer going that back way to the inevitable traffic jam on the interstate. That being said, I've never seen a Nitro with a huge snarly dog in it, so you win the Worst Drive in Ohio Contest. And running into car + dog again... kind of trippy.

    1. Ally Bean--It's not that I'm really in a hurry, per se, but if I have someplace to be/go, I'd like to simply Get There. I don't know why people hit this road and enter into The Meander Zone, but they inevitably do.

      I have to say that finding out that this Dog And Car Show is in The Neighborhood was a very Unwelcome Coincidence. The dog clearly runs the show in that relationship, and it's not a nice dog, period. That thing is aggressive.

      You know, you bring up a very interesting point about traffic and roadways. What's preferable, slow-moving backroads or jam-packed interstate traffic? I've driven both, and I find them equally irritating. At least with the poky country roads, you have the luxury of not having to make snap decisions and multiple lanes of moronic drivers. But they both make me nuts.

  4. Life is better for whom?

    One of my biggest pet peeves is people who cut me off and then go very slowly. I live in Southern California and it happens pretty much every day. It must be a personality flaw of mine that I have not learned to chill out about it after this many years of driving.

    I am with you, I just want to Get There already.

    1. Gina--I cannot think it is better for anyone.

      As we have often mentioned before, you and I need to get together. We'd get along famously. I, too, bemoan the Personality Flaw of my own that prevents me from accepting the fact that, on this road--which I drive every weekend--I am going to put up with poky, lackadaisical drivers. Why can I not, as you said, chill out about it already? Sigh.

      Rick has often said that our cars must bear huge signs that say PULL OUT IN FRONT OF ME, so often do cars and trucks do just that. Have you checked your own vehicle for same?

      Anyway, if you ever find yourself in Ohio, please let me know immediately. I will be your Gracious Host, and my wine cellar is at your disposal. (Also, we can have martinis or Bloody Marys if you'd rather.)

    2. If I am ever in Ohio, I will absolutely be sure to look you up! However, your wine stash is safe, as I am allergic to wine (except for perhaps a nice Beaujolais which doesn't have all the tannins of most other wines). Anyhoo, if you are ever in Southern California, I will be your personal guide and I promise to take you to my favorite tiki bar.

  5. The only thing that saves me & the other drivers on the road is listening to audio books. If I forget my book (or, heaven forbid, it ends mid trip) I will switch to music. I find that music just increases my homicidal tendencies.

    I much prefer the meandering country way to the interstate - for some reason I feel like I have more control of my own trip that way. I'm always in a hurry too - not because I'm late, but because if you're going to go somewhere, shouldn't you go as quickly as possible?

    1. Bug--This Meandering Country Way makes me feel as if I have LESS control over my own trip, thanks to the vagaries of drivers who clearly have Nowhere To Go.

      I think if I listen to audiobooks, I'll keep on thinking how much better I could read aloud than the person actually doing it. I know; I'm a tremendous Project.

  6. People who don't/can't control their dogs are in the same category for me as people who don't/can't control their children (and no, I'm not talking about children with medical or emotional conditions, just typical kids whose parents can't be bothered to pay attention and do some actual parenting.) Yesterday we were at yet another famous ruined castle here in England and I stopped in at the village church afterwards to have a look round. The sanctuary was absolutely lovely, but the beauty was somewhat marred by 3 school-age children chasing each other through the pews at top volume ("I almost got you!" "No, you didn't!" "I touched your shoe!" "That wasn't my shoe!" Giggle chortle laugh, whoop, shriek, etc ad nauseum.) As the few other tourists and I patiently waited for them to finish so we could take some photos of the stained glass behind the altar, their father strode in (where had he been, anyway?) and intoned, "Nigel! Sophie! Trevor!" and we all prepared for a delightful dressing-down. Instead, Dad followed up with, "Look here, so I can take your picture!" And yes, the other tourists and I exchanged looks with each other. On the plus side, I'm 99% sure that, if he'd had a German Shepherd, it would have been lying obediently outside the sanctuary door, because that's what dogs do in England.

    1. MsCaroline--Firstly, let me just bask in the Britishers' glory that is NigelSophieTrevor. It reminds me of being at the Cleveland Zoo when a group of Day Schoolers were there in the summertime, and a teacher bellowed out, "Jasmine, Jasmine, and Marquez! You three get out of there!" as a group of skinny children attempted to climb under the flamingo enclosure's railings.


      I share your considerable Annoyance regarding Nigel! Sophie! and Trevor!'s behaviour. Sadly, like dogs, it is a reflection not of them, really, but of their Poor/Absent Parenting. I pity their teachers, their eventual Adult Community, and their eventual Spouses, not to mention their future Screwed-Up Children.

      Enough of my Catholicism remains to be suitably horrified that this sort of rampaging took place in a church. Even if it were desanctified, as so many in NEO now are (due to consolidation by the RC diocese), I still think it demands some respect and proper reverence. Certainly basic Public Etiquette, anyhow. Sigh.

  7. Yep, the names are fabulous, and (almost all) are still quite traditional. I am still miffed that I wanted to name #2 Archibald after my (Scots) grandfather and was shot down by MrL, who pointed out that he (#2) would undoubtedly experience torment at the hands of his peers in US suburbia. He would have done just fine here in the UK, where 'Archie' is about as common as 'John.' As far as the church goes, it was, in fact, an active parish in the C of E and, as such, deserved to be treated with reverence even if it's unlikely that N/S/T and their family were believers anyway. Your point is correct: not their fault, but the fault of their parents. I will say, though, that has been very much the exception here in Britain, where I find that people are still very much concerned with manners, politeness, and trying to avoid Giving Offence. It's really lovely.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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