Saturday, May 15, 2010

Feeling Superior Takes Less Work than Being Superior

Driving home yesterday afternoon on 395 North towards wherever it goes (I get off it at Norwich and have never been confused with Curious George) I was more than a little surprised when a powder-blue Prius flew, not just blew, by me as if I were standing still. Mindful of the risk of incriminating myself, I'll note I was doing the posted speed limit-whether there was also a reflection of the current Connecticut state sales tax and/or even possibly an average of the still-at-the discussion-stage Value Added Tax, I will not divulge.

Anyway, I never realized the hybrid earth shoe with wheels cars could go anywhere that speed unless the measurement involved plummeting from a sheer cliff or tall building, but I was impressed. I wondered briefly what that type of speed did for the carbon footprint of the vehicle and the level of hydrocarbon emissions and all the other invisible maniacs* wandering around as the discussion on saving our planet (for dessert, I think) grow more strident by the minute.

I was the only one having those concerns I guess as I watched the driver reach up to the window with his left hand and push out into his auto-slipstream a whole burger joint bag's worth of junk as he rolled on. Perhaps he thought he was, at least, symbolically releasing some white doves (okay, with 'you know when it's real' tattooed in red on their breast feathers) to show his commitment to our mother, Earth, and not just littering (which on that stretch of highway is a $219 fine; I don't know if that's per piece, per ton or who the hell came up with the dollar figure).

I'm always amazed when I'm out walking or pull into a rest stop someplace while driving to find all manner of food and drink containers, always empty, on the ground and not in a container. As long as the sleeve held a hot apple pie, the muncher could carry it--but, when it was empty, its weight was too great to bear any longer. Gravity, one; McWendyKing, zip Anyway, in this instance, trash went everywhere which should please the Department of Highways who has nothing better to do all summer than pick up after us, especially since in this area of the state all the highways and state roads as well as the city streets are in impeccable condition and want for nothing.

Having jettisoned his less than precious cargo, to my astonishment, Speed Racer actually accelerated and disappeared over the horizon to be very nearly never seen again. Except for the six minutes later in the breakdown lane when he was in front of a very festive state trooper's car, perhaps observing a belated celebration of Cinco De Mayo or a premature one for Independence Day (maybe even Arbor Day, though I think not), receiving what I hope proves to be the largest speeding ticket in the history of Christendom. Blaring in my CD player, proving God does have a sense of humor even if we are so often the butt of it, came Ben Folds Five. Ah yes, sometimes only the classics will do-you know when it's real. Pucker up.
-bill kenny

*Hedrick Smith, in a marvelous book entitled The Russians, written in the late 1970's, talked about a language only has words for concepts it has--alternative states of being if you will. Since in Soviet society at that time and for many decades prior, the notion of privacy was alien, Russian language scholars had borrowed the English word 'privacy' and slapped an alternate ending on it, producing privatsky. He went on to note that the English phrase 'counter-intelligence' doesn't translate directly into Russian and when you do translate the Russian approximation of it, you end up with 'invisible maniacs' which, when you think about it, is surprisingly close to capturing the intended meaning.

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