Category Archives: Driving

One Badass Broad

In 1973, I went on a field trip with my high school acting group.  To London.  To a week of plays in London’s West End.

Because I was far too cool to be a tourist, I did almost none of the typical tourist things while I was there.  (I was an idiot.  There is a reason folks want to visit the Tower of London, etc.).  There was one exception, though.  I went to Madame Tussaud’s — the famous Wax Museum.  While there, I was still too cool to be impressed by how realistic the wax figures were.  Well, until something happened to really make me smile.

My friends and I had just about finished touring the museum, when we entered the exhibit for The Royals.  From behind me I heard the sweetest voice.

“Mummy!  That’s Our Queen!

A little English boy, no more than four had entered the exhibit.  He wore navy blue shorts and suspenders, and his cheeks were as rosy as a young English boy’s should be.  He lit up the room with his pride.   In his Queen.

“Yes, Darling,” replied his Mum.  “That’s our Queen.”

From Madame Tussaud's Website

From Madame Tussaud’s Website

At that time, Richard Nixon was President of the U.S.  I was quite sure that there was no little boy in my country who would speak with similar pride about Nixon.

The image of that boy comes to mind every time I see Queen Elizabeth.  And I always smile.

Today I read something about the Queen, though, that makes me smile even wider.

The Huffington Post reported a delightful anecdote about a visit from the newly-late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to the Queen’s Scottish castle, Balmoral.  The story was recounted by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who was the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  He’d been told the story by both the Queen and the King, and relayed it.

“After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate,” wrote Cowper-Coles, who is said to have heard the tale from both Elizabeth and Abdullah themselves. “Prompted by his foreign minister the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah had agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, his interpreter in the seat behind.”

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah.  Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah. Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Little did Abdullah know, however, that his driver for the day would be none other than Elizabeth herself.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” Cowper-Coles wrote. “Women are not — yet — allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”

Not to mention a queen who can drive like the wind. According to Cowper-Coles, Elizabeth didn’t just drive the SUV, but rapidly whizzed along the estate’s roads as she chatted, prompting Abdullah to become increasingly anxious.

“Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead,” the diplomat said.

Queen Elizabeth II is one badass broad.  On behalf of drivers of my gender, as well as men far more enlightened than King Abdullah, I bow to you.  I’d curtsey but I’m not that kind of girl.

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Filed under Driving, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Traffic

Pretty Please?

Until this morning, I’ve been dreading 2016.

Politics, to me, is a spectator sport.  And so the idea of Hilary (ho hum) v. Jeb (ho ho ho) sounded like it was going to be about as much fun as cribbage.  Watching cribbage.

But this morning, I read that we may have some entertainment value to our next presidential race after all.  Whooeeeee!!!

Mitt Wants to Run Again!!!

And you know what idea he plans to run on?

POVERTY!

Yup.  According to this article in the Huffington Post, Mitt is going to tackle poverty:

Romney, who made a fortune in the financial sector and was cast by Democrats in 2012 as a heartless businessman, wants to make tackling poverty — a key issue for his 2012 vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan — one of the three pillars of his campaign.

Tell us another one! (Google image)

Tell us another one!
(Google image)

I wonder if Ann Romney knows she might have to eat tuna and pasta again.

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Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Climate Change, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Dogs, Driving, Elections, Farts, GOP, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Politics, Stupidity, Voting

Our Groaning Nation

It occurred to me just now that America, the grand experiment in Democracy that began in revolution in 1776, and organized itself under the Constitution in 1789, is no longer in its infancy.

Yeah, I was shocked too!

Of course, at 238 years old, I shouldn’t be.  In fact, growing up should be expected.  We can’t remain babies or even toddlers forever, now, can we? Cute and cuddly was bound to give way to something, well, to something decidedly different.

We want to be like the big kids.  After all, the countries that most of those in power like to believe we all hailed from (legally, natch) have been around for many hundreds of years, some even a thousand years or more.  They’ve done so much stuff that they don’t even bother to put up plaques saying what happened.

Yes, those other countries, they’ve changed, grown, and matured through the ages.  We must too.

And we are.

Which led me to the realization of the entire problem with our country.  With our political family.

SHIT!  America is  a teenager, God help us.

Yup.  We (and the world we lead) are truly fucked.

We have become a nation of petulant fools who can’t think beyond our own immediate needs.

Let’s hope our nation doesn’t wrap itself around a metaphorical tree.

[Elections matter.  We got what too many of us stayed home for.]

*   *   *

The idea for this post came to me when I read Zorbear’s post, Just wasting our money again… featuring  this terrific cartoon

INFRASTRUCTURE

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Science, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Voting

People Are Strange

A fellow paralegal I didn’t particularly like gave me a memorable piece of advice over thirty years ago.  And I remember it clearly to this day.

“Never get a vanity license plate,” she said, “Because if you rob a bank or are involved in a hit-and-run accident, witnesses will remember it.”

In spite of the fact that I have never actually robbed a bank or run anybody over, I’ve followed that piece of advice.  But mostly it’s because I tend to change my mind about stuff.  (Like the time I decided that I really didn’t like my choice in between special ordering a new sofa and when it was delivered.)  So if I get a vanity plate, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to go to the DMV weekly to change my special plate when I decide that it isn’t quite as clever as I thought at the time.  [See:  Stupid blog name.]

But I love vanity plates.  I missed them when I was overseas.  I search the road for them while commuting and on road trips.  Sometimes, I laugh at the cleveness.  Often I try to figure out what a message might mean.  Sometimes I shake my head and try to figure out what insanity might possess someone to saddle themselves with such a stupid plate.

The one I saw tonight though, made all others pale in comparison.  It reached an entirely new dimension.  Beyond the earth’s stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere.  To Infinity and Beyond.  Literally.

It said:

EWE NEXT

OK, so that doesn’t seem all that ground-breaking, now does it?

The plate was on a hearse.

About this vintage.*

About this vintage.*

The hearse itself had seen better days, but it was pretty much like this picture that I found at this website, where they sell hearses, should you be at all interested in procuring one.  It was not at all like the fancy schmancy hearses I see regularly leaving this appropriately named local funeral parlor:

Photo from (I kid you not) Moneyandking.com

Photo from (I kid you not) Moneyandking.com, a Northern Virginia Funeral Parlor

My hearse, I mean the one I’m talking about, had broken down in the left turn lane to get onto a major highway.  I drove past as the traffic in my lane flowed by, cursing myself for having my camera/cell phone in my pocket instead of ready for this photo op.  [Curses, foiled again.]

That was when I saw the pièce de résistance!  The driver stood in front of the hearse (making it far more likely that HE, and not EWE would, in fact,  be NEXT).  He was dressed in black jeans, black shoes and a black Panama hat.  Oh, and a black Blues Brother T-shirt.

Oh Yeah! Image from http://www.honcho-sfx.com

Oh Yeah!
Image from http://www.honcho-sfx.com

 

I’m pretty sure it was the reincarnation of John Belushi.

Honestly, I don’t know where I’d get my entertainment from if I worked at home.

 

 

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Filed under Driving, Huh?, Humor, Traffic

Back with Julie

One week after landing in a hazy, overcast, gray Geneva, Switzerland, I had my very first taste of what I’d moved 3,000 miles to experience.  And it was, of course, magical.

I was alone for the first time in weeks.  Exploring.  John was working, Jacob was safely at his first day of school.  I was on my own, with only our Bernese Mountain Dog, Charlie, for company when it happened.

I was driving down the Route de Divonne when the clouds, at long last, parted.  And there they were – just past the now glistening Lake Geneva — the mountains.  The Alps!  Mont Blanc, with its year-round snowy peak, the highest mountain in Europe. The Alps danced right there — just through my windshield.  I could practically reach out and touch them, taste them, smell their beauty.  It was magical.  Breathtaking.  Inspiring.  Unforgettable.

Google Photo

Google Photo

I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  You know just what I mean, don’t you.  I felt like Julie when she is up there in the mountains all by herself.  When she throws her arms wide and sings with all her heart, The Hills Are Alive, With the Sound of Music.  And they are.  Trust me.  They are.

I slowed down, tried to breathe, tried to memorize the moment and keep it in my heart. Tried to capture the moment forever.  I also tried not to hit another car.

And then, well, something else happened.  From a side street to my left came a small car.  It turned in front of me, pulling behind it a long green open-air trailer.  Neatly stenciled on the back in a lacy, delicate script were these words:

jardin naturel

“Natural Garden,” in French.

On top of that trailer sat the largest pile of steaming cow manure I have ever seen.

Yes, my first solo excursion in the Swiss countryside became a metaphor for life as an ex-patriot living there:  There were moments of majestic beauty that I call “Julie Andrews Moments,” when I was filled with beauty and awe.  When I honestly felt like the luckiest person on earth.

And there was a lot of shit.  These two elements combined with travel to places I never dreamed I’d see, made our time in Geneva the adventure of a lifetime.

 

*     *     *

My bloggin’ buddy, Naomi, a wonderful traveler who actually posts her own pictures and does not cut them from Google, wrote this post about a trip to Switzerland.  Naoimi inspired me to re-post this old, old post.  I wrote it back in the days when you didn’t know me.  When you didn’t realize that some way, somehow, shit is always a metaphor for my life.

And if you ever get the chance to go to Switzerland, do it.  Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 — it’s not worth all that much over there!

Google Photo

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Driving, Family, Geneva Stories, Huh?, Humor

One Born Every Minute

Just today I realized that I really am a good person.  Nice.  Law-abiding.

It’s true. Because somehow today I did not live out my longest held fantasy.  One that I’ve wanted to enact since childhood.

I will admit that I was close to doing it.  Possibly closer than I have ever been to saying “What the Hell, I’m gonna do it! — Now!  Today!”

I will admit to seriously considering doing it just for the moment when I was struggling to get into the driver’s seat of my car today at lunch time.  The moments.  OK, it took half of my damn lunch hour.

You see, I had an important errand that I had to take care of.

But some asshole had parked so close to my car that I couldn’t even get my purse into the car from the driver’s side.

Did I deserve to be placed in this, ummm, position?  Did I park outside of the white line? No. I was parked just fine, thank you very much.  Parked within the designated parking spot.  Straight.  Did I mention that I was well within the white lines on both sides of my car?  Well I was.

I did not deserve to be treated in such a manner.

So when I realized that without liposuction, a detention in a concentration camp or a colonic, there was no way in hell I could get to the driver’s seat from the driver’s side.  I was annoyed, I stood there for minutes with my hands on my hips, glad there were no children milling about to increase their vocabulary.

But I had no choice; I had to go. So I walked to the passenger side of the car, to climb into the driver’s seat. I soon realized that the driver’s seat was as close to the steering wheel as vehicularly-possible.  I realized that I was also not supposed to exert myself following my surgery.

Did I mention that it was important that I go?

So I struggled to get my body into the driver’s seat without a cerebral hemorrhage.

Somehow, I managed.

The cerebral hemorrhage happened when I carefully backed out of my parking spot, and realized two things:

  1. There were 24.5 parking spots in that section of the parking lot alone, and five floors of empty parking spots on the floors above us; there was no reason for someone to park in such an assholic/inconsiderate manner.
  2. The car sported a special license plate.

Instantly, I started fantasizing. Within a heartbeat, I was transported back in time. Teleported to the very first movie I remember watching.

I was very young.  Young enough to be crabby that my brother, Bob, had control of the TV.  Annoyed that he was watching a movie instead of cartoons.  Annoyed enough to forget that as long as the TV was on I didn’t really care what was showing.  (I had, just that morning, been watching the test pattern.)

The movie was brilliant, and I have never watched the test pattern since.  It was called

If I Had A Million

 It was a compilation of a bunch of sequences where various characters were given a million dollars that they could spend however they chose.  It later became the TV series “The Millionnaire” where a wealthy man would give people $1 million as long as they didn’t tell where it came from.

Anyway, in the move If I Had A Million, WC Fields’ lady-friend Mary had just had her new car ruined by what we would today call an “asshole,” but who was then called a “Road Hog.” When WC Fields and Mary Boland  got their million, they knew just what to do:

They bought a bunch of old clunker cars, and whenever there was a road hog around, they would ram their clunker into him, causing the jerk to totally wreck his own car, along with theirs.  But that didn’t matter, because that was why WC and Mary had bought those old clunkers!

They did this repeatedly.  And it has been my fondest wish since I was about six years old, to be able to do that to the bad drivers, the folks who cut people off, who weave and edge and drive dangerously.

Revenge would be so sweet!

But in spite of being a wise ass, I am not an asshole. I did not smash the car that parked so inconsiderately. I did not accidentally-on-purpose run my keys along the $60,000 Audi Q7 SUV. I did not even spit in its general direction.

It was especially challenging because I realized that the owner is represents everything I hate. I realized that I’d seen him before, changing lanes discourteously.  He (and yes, it was a he) had an overpriced car that he drove like he owned the road.  And those specialty license plates?

Photo Credit:  VA DMV Website

The Asshole was A Tea Partier! Photo Credit: VA DMV Website

 

And I realized that I really needed to feel sorry for the dumb rich guy.  You see, this genius paid extra taxes to the Commonwealth of Virginia so that he could protest paying taxes.

Photo Credit:  izquotes.com

Photo Credit: izquotes.com

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, Elections, GOP, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Virginia, Wild Beasts

I Coulda Been a Contender!

Have you ever wanted to leave a different impression on folks around you than you actually do?

Yeah, me too.

In high school, boys found me cute.  Now to all you high school age boys reading this, please note that the way to a girl’s ummm, heart, is not via the word “cute.”  By the end of my senior year, I had had it with that word.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that my older sister, Judy, was seriously sexy.  Nope.  Nothing to do with that.

As I entered English class one day, my friend Jonathan was still chuckling over something adorably cute I had said or done in the class we had together earlier in the day.

“Elyse,” he said, chuckling, “you are so cute!”

“Really?” I responded.  “Damn it, I always wanted to be voluptuous.

Jonathan’s mouth, no doubt, is still hanging open.

Years later when I played basketball for a law school team (I was an honorary student at the time with gym privileges), I wanted to be tall.  Very tall.  Sadly, tallness is something you cannot fake.  Especially if you are 5 foot 2.  Damn.  And did I mention that I’m slow, too?  Yeah.  Molasses.

But I’m resourceful, so when my opposing guard, all 12 feet of her, hovered over me whenever I got down court towards my basket, I improvised.  I shot the ball from center court.  Of course I made the shot.  Alas it was before you got 3 points for such skill.

Shooting hoops is a skill that has helped me throughout my lifetime.  I am never, ever, out of reach of the trash basket.  Yes, I am that good.

As I’ve aged, though, I reluctantly accepted the fact that I would never be either voluptuous or tall.  So I wanted to be intimidating.  Physically intimidating.  At 5’2″.  You got a problem with that?

You’ll be pleased to know that now, and for the near future, I could scare the hell out of you.  Or anybody.  If only I’d remember to.

Where I live, the guys who design the roads like to pretend that we are waaaaay out in the country.  They do this by insisting on putting one lane bridges over bridges that cross streams connecting two pieces of major roads.  These road designers either have bizarre senses of humor or a sadistic streak.  Maybe both.

As you drive towards the one lane bridge, you note a white line and a “yield to oncoming traffic” sign.

(Google Image)

(Google Image)

It’s terribly quaint.  You are expected to take turns.

But this is 2014, and there are lots of overachievers around here who flunked only one course on the way to their advanced degrees:  Turn Taking.

On Sunday, I approached one of these bridges, slowed down, and stopped at the white line.  It was the oncoming car’s turn.  After the driver of the oncoming car went, I started forward to take my turn.

Flying down the hill towards me and the one lane bridge I hadn’t yet reached, was someone who didn’t know how to take turns.  And she wasn’t going to stop her Mercedes SUV for me.

My mouth ran on with some choice words, but my foot wisely pressed the brake, and the collision that would have otherwise occurred, didn’t.  But I was, pissed.  And swearing.  And really wishing that I was a frightening, imposing looking person so that I could chase after the asshole and confront her.  Yell at her.  Threaten her.  Teach her how to wait for her bloomin’ turn.

A mile down the road I stopped short and pulled over.

“SHIT!” I shouted as I realized that I had missed my chance.  My chance to stand in front of someone and scare them.  To make them wonder just what I am capable of.  To wonder if they would be able to survive an encounter with me.  All 5’2″ of me.

Because you see, these days I’m a wee bit scary looking.  I look like I’ve been in a knife fight.  Like an abused wife.  But like someone likely gave way more than she got.

Yup.  You can call me Scarface.

Remember last month when I told you about the Valentine’s gift I got? You remember, don’t you — I got melanoma!  (Although, I would have preferred flowers.)

In the intervening weeks, I’ve de-melanoma’d.  Yup, I’ve had it taken out by a plastic surgeon.  And while I will look just fine in two shakes of a dog’s tail, right now I look a bit intimidating.

OK, So I have no makeup on.  Sue me.  Just Don't Mess with Me!

OK, So I have no makeup on. Sue me. Just Don’t Mess with Me!

AND I DIDN’T USE IT!  I didn’t chase after her and make her fear for her life!  I didn’t teach her how to take turns!  Damn it!  I coulda been a contender!

*     *     *

This was just a little ditty to let you know that I had my surgery, that I am now cancer free and just fine, thank you very much.

But what about you?  Did you do what I told you? (No comments from you, Guap!)

Save your skin.  Right now.  Listen to me, and follow my instructions precisely:

  1. Go into your bathroom
  2. Take off all of your clothes
  3. Examine your skin
  4. Check spots, moles and discolorations carefully
  5. If anything doesn’t look right, if you have a bad feeling, if something is bigger or darker or just different, go to a dermatologist and have it checked out.

Even though I look pretty scary now, I won’t for long.  But I won’t forget to use what I have — I will intimidate assholes for several weeks until my scar fades.

But you know what?  The real way I’ll get back at folks who don’t know how to take turns is to take away their sunscreen.  That’ll fix ‘em!

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Filed under Cancer, Driving, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Humor, Melanoma, Out Damn Spot!, Stupidity, Traffic