Most recently, I have had the kind use of a friend's car more often than I have driven my own. I believe the friend sees this as a meaningful way to assist me at a time when I am coming out of some difficulties. He won't take gas money, he won't take no for an answer and he won't move his car so I can my own out of the garage. OK. I an accept a kindness graciously. The trouble is that bright red, V8 Mustang GT embarrasses the living hell out of me. No chastisement, please! I understand it's a classic car, an icon, that many Americans love. I just don't happen to be one of them. The trouble is that the car is so anti-me, so far from anything I represent, so big, so roaring, so heavy, such a gas guzzler . . . I don't care for it at all. When I arrive at AA in it, the bikers sitting outside smoking give me the "Hey, honey" look or make comments that border on unwelcome. Young Turks pull up next to me at stoplights and check out the machine from bumper to bumper, jaws dropping when they see me at the wheel. Recently a friend walked me out to this car and kind of grinned at me. Hey, the windows are tinted so dark, at least it would be difficult for an observer to be certain it was me. And finally, an older man at AA saw me arrive in my Nissan recently and said, "Weren't you driving a much finer car the other night?" Grrr . . None of my friends has any issue jumping in, reclining the seat back to an angle I can't use to drive, and hitting the sound system, so what is it with me?
By the way, I was also mortified in my 20s when I was tapped to move my mother's Cadillac from one location to another, for fear someone might see me in that conveyance which is not reflective of me, either, so I have long-standing issues. Which is not the point of this story. I was driving home feeling clean - cleansed - from my AA meeting. I started up a gentle incline on a street that is residential, quiet, but quite wide, sun-dappled at 6:30 p.m., and notorious for the motorcycle cops who lie in wait under the freeway overpass seemingly 24/7. I saw him there from a couple of blocks back. I made certain my foot was scarcely touching the gas pedal. It occurred to me (again) that that V8 engine roars even when the driver is not gunning it. But I felt I was doing all right. He was starting up the motorcycle and pulling out as I passed him. He hit his lights and I pulled over. I know how to behave. Don't flail my arms around, don't dive for purse or glove compartment, just wait for him to arrive at the window.
We immediately established a grand rapport. "Do you know why I stopped you, M'am?" "Sir, I don't." "Well, this is a 25 mph zone and I clocked you at 39 mph." "Ah," said I. We danced a little. I explained that I needed to get out of the car to get to my purse from the back. I had difficulty locating registration and insurance (hey, it's not my car!), but he was patient and level about all of it. When he gave me the ticket, he said, "You've been really cooperative. I wrote you up for only 5 mph above the speed limit." "Well, I thank you, Sir. Could we list the Ford Motor Company as partly responsible since this car likely goes 50 mph when the ignition is turned on?" Smiles. "Drive safely." I did. And slow. Not to split hairs, but when I got home and examined the ticket more carefully, I noted that it reads "Actual speed: 39, Cited speed: 30." I'm not quite sure I understand this. It's not like anyone else (the Court, DMV) will fail to know I got clocked at 39 mph. I'm required to contact the Court before August 10, so I can't even rely on the Rapture to get me off on this one. And as I drove off, I did not call the man a rat bastard or any other derogatory name, even under my breath.
OK, well it can't be blamed on anyone other than myself. It's not a weird charge - simply "going too fast". It'll cost more than I want to pay and I'll likely moan about that when the time arrives, too. I can't dance and I'm too fat to fly. "Pay the ticket and shut up, Les." "All right I will."
Last night I went a pretty far stretch across the city to listen to an AA speaker. He was an older man, very lively and entertaining to the 300 or so of us who gathered to hear yet the next drunk's tale. Yes, we really do get something good from that. It's part of the AA juju. The reason the program works. I am good at a speaker meeting. I absorb what the presenter has to say and I spend time rehashing it, spending time in the larger and smaller themes. I can't shake this, even though I've had a night's sleep and other distractions . . . this man's "bottom" (the place an alcoholic must reach before he is finally ready to admit that he has a problem) was remarkably bad by the standards of most people. He arose out of the wreckage across many years and regained a truly admirable way of life. His date of continuous sobriety? September, 1958. You should have seen me doing the math on my fingers and toes. I'm in awe.
So, we're going to volunteer at the Henderson Pavilion again through the stewardship of Acts of Kindness, the organization I support with my time and efforts. So this time, it's a local rock band combined with a symphony orchestra doing The Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zep, or so they say. All righty then. But I'm going and I'm scratching my head about why the damned Yellow Brick Road thing keeps popping up in my life. I don't like the yellow brick road reference or any images it conjures up. I know, I know. Dig out the black pants, white shirt, collect the vest at Will Call and listen to the music.