Saturday, February 19, 2011

"I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing"

I apparently have reached the age where I move too slowly to suit some people. I've been dreading this day.

This realization manifested itself in several ways, just recently.

As I was making my way up to the entrance of an office building, a strapping young total stranger lunged ahead to open the door for me. "Let me help you with that, Old Timer," his patronizing smile seemed to say.

At a coffee shop, a young, balding man stood by patiently while, with trembling fingers, I took the lid off my cafe au lait, poured in sweetener and stirred my brew. "No need to hurry, Pops," his condescending smile seemed to say. "I've got way more time left than you do."

And then just a little later, as I drove down a busy, four-lane city street, I was startled by the sound of a car horn behind me. A woman driving a Lexus was outraged by something I was doing. I glanced down at my speedometer and discovered that I was driving 38 mph in a 45 mph zone.

The horror! The horror! I sped up, but the woman still couldn't get past me, because there was another slowpoke driving beside me. I could see the woman behind me, a portrait of fuming impatience, in my rearview mirror.

After just a few blocks, I reached the place I needed to go, and moved over into the left-turn lane. But apparently I didn't execute that maneuver quickly enough either, didn't careen over like a Daytona racetrack driver, and the woman again started blatting her horn and gesticulating furiously.

Finally, I turtled out of her way and she roared past giving me a final horn and finger.

I know now how T.S. Eliot's poetic hero, J.Alfred Prufrock, felt:

"I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

And as for the woman with the middle finger that she was so anxious to show me: Sorry, Sweetie. I'm sure nothing like what I've got will ever happen to you.


Anonymous said...

Great article. Rest assured, though, that the woman with the finger and the horn is just an asshole and her behavior had nothing to do with how slow or how fast you were driving. There would have been no pleasing her because some people, when the notice horn and finger, just have to use them.

Leslie said...

Must have been "Stupid Driver Day". We have those quite often in Los Angeles.