My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, February 17

Pet Peeves

Pet peeves. So many to examine, so little time. Each time I go to any of our grocery stores or to CostCo and see people push a cart to their car, unload their stuff, and then shove the cart up into a bush or flower bed or just leave it in their empty space, even though there’s a cart repository no more than five steps away, I get pissed. I want to rush up before they can drive away and slam a cart into their rear ends. I don’t succumb to the urge, but it’s what I’d like to do. Then there are all the excessively tattooed basketball players, both college and NBA. What statement are they making with all that ink on necks and shoulders? I guess it’s the same as all the long hair and free love and dippy clothes of the Seventies, a finger in the air aimed at the establishment. Then there are the drivers in our senior community. They’re old, yes, but so many of them are so stupid. I’m guessing they were stupid young drivers. They don’t know how to stop at stop lights, or signal turns (or too often forget to turn their signals off after a turn), or signal a right turn and then turn left, or drive faster than 20 in a 45 mph zone, or drive slower than 60 in a 45 mph zone. When all our snow birds are here and our streets and parking lots are overflowing with senior drivers, one takes his life in his hands when one ventures out among them. Thank God I’m one of the non-stupid drivers. A long time ago I wrote a short essay on Pennsylvania drivers who drove me crazy whenever I'd drive to the golf course where I was a member. It was just over the Pennsylvania line from my home in upstate New York, back roads Pennsylvania, and the back country would come out to plague me.

"Pennsylvania Drivers"

Pet peeves, the things that bug us the most. Everybody’s got at least one and I guess you could say I have more than my share. But there’s one that really red-flags me. You see, patience has never been one of my virtues. And Pennsylvania drivers make me want to rip my hair. I have this theory that the only Pennsylvanians who get drivers licenses are the ones who don’t pass the road test.

I live in New York, fairly close to Pennsylvania, but I golf at a course just across the border near Warren, so I spend a lot of time on the two-lane roads from Lakewood through New York and Pennsylvania to the course. And almost every time I’m going or returning, I can count on one or more Pennsylvania caravans—little bunches of three to ten cars all tootling down the road at 43 mph, all bunched up behind the lead car, all doing 43. Not 42, not 44, but 43 right on the money—nobody ever passing anybody else because I swear Pennsylvanians think that’s illegal. So there I’ll be fuming at the back of the pack, and the Pennsylvanians ahead of me—oblivious to me and my anger, oblivious to just about everything—are just as pleased as punch.

I’ve noticed, whenever I’m stuck behind a Pennsylvania car, that the occupants really seem to enjoy eyeballing the scenery and conversing with each other. I watch them there ahead of me, their heads bobbing back and forth, looking out the side windows at the countryside, then back to look at each other. Apparently they can’t talk without eye contact. But they never look in their rearview mirrors. They haven't the foggiest there’s a guy behind them about to have a seizure, a guy who at any moment might go berserk and smash into their backsides. They just go on tootling down the road, and in my mind I hear Mortimer Snerd going, “Dum de dum de dum, uh yupp, uh huh, yupp. Oh, hey, look, Ethyl, the Johnsons got a new yard ornament—a stuffed bear bendin’ over the garbage can. Uh, yupp, that sure is cute all right. Goes really good with the mallard wind gauge ‘n’ the butterfly on the garage door. Uh yupp, uh huh, ‘n’ I always hafta chuckle when I see that wooden cutout of the lady bendin’ over the flower garden ‘n’ that cute little wooden schnauzer sniffin’ her bottom. Oh yeah, that’s a good un. Dum de dum de dum. Whattay think, Ethel? Wanna drive on over ta the mall in Lakewood ‘n’ look around? Maybe go ta Ponderosa fer dinner? Let’s see, fifteen miles from here. Shouldn’t take us more’n half hour or so. You game, Ethyl?”

And any time I see a car making some strange maneuver, I can almost count on its having a Pennsylvania plate—you know, the old “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” plate. Whenever I see a car signaling a left turn from the right lane, I go out of my way to check it out. Sure enough, blue plate, and almost always a little old couple in front and another in back, both ladies with carefully coifed blue hair. Or if I get stuck behind a car doing 25 in a 40 mph zone, I just know who it must be. They feel obligated to go ten to fifteen slower than the posted limit. It’s the same principle that applies when they see a 30 mph curve sign. They follow those instructions to the letter—no, I mean ten letters less. And down hills no matter how steep or gentle the grade. Any time I see someone’s brake lights blinking on-off, on-off, on-off going down a hill, I just know it’s a Pennsylvania dingdong.

Just yesterday, going west on Fairmount Avenue, I noticed a car right-turning into Ponderosa. Pennsylvanians love Ponderosa and will drive hundreds of miles from remote Pennsylvania outposts just to come to the one in Lakewood. The car was tootling a nice safe 5 mph for the turn, making a big surprise loop out to the left before turning right.

“Heh, heh, heh, uh yupp. Gotta keep them nervous New Yorkers on their toes, Ethyl.”

Sure enough, true to form—they turned into the Exit, much to the consternation of a driver just leaving.

“Oh, hey, Ethyl, ya see that nice man wave ta us from his car? They sure wave funny in New York, though, with just that one finger. Uh yupp, uh huh, dum de dum de dum.”
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