« 2,000 words a day | Main | It's not a waste of time if you knit while watching the TV... »

September 11, 2010

Wanna get drunk and fool around?

The title is from Jaws, one of my favorite movies. I love crusty old Quint and his big speech, "Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin' bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole..."

And of course the most famous line from Jaws, Brody saying, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

I watched Jaws tonight. I had it on Tivo and after I watched all the network specials on 9/11 I guess I needed a big mechanical shark and some Richard Dreyfuss.

After that first year I really wanted the guv'ment to make September 11th a national day of silence or mourning or remembering or something. When I was a little girl Pearl Harbor Day was always remarked upon and talked about because my grandfather had served in the Navy during the war and his ship had just left the harbor when the attack happened. (He was on the famous USS Lexington). He survived, but that day remained very important to him and he shared it with us every year. I'm not sure I quite understood it, not viscerally, until September 11th.

I mentioned the whole National Day of Mourning idea once -- might have been on this website, even -- and I was taken to task over it. Someone complained it would just become a holiday like Memorial Day where we have mattress sales.

I was really happy when this day was named a National Day of Service and Remembrance. It's so much better than my day of mourning idea. Much better to live forward than backward, yes?

- - -

Midday I was driving to Trader Joe's and the road was really crowded, must have been road construction or something. A big orange MTA bus stopped right in front of me, I was just under the 101 overpass. I looked in my side mirror and quickly moved into the next lane. I'm not a slowpoke driver and I don't cut people off, so I knew the big silver SUV behind me didn't even have to tap his brakes when I got over in the lane in front of him. But he honked at me anyway, made a fist. I flipped him off. It's summer, windows zipped off the Jeep, he saw me.

He made a big show of running up on my bumper, then trying to pull along beside me. Worst thing about me is that I don't scare. It's sounds fine on paper but it's not a great quality. You honk at me, I will flip you off, and I don't pretend it wasn't me, I'll take you on. There is no scare in me. Thank God I don't have kids.

So this asshole and his friend they try to pull in the lane right beside me to my left and they're yelling and I could give a shit. We're in Hollywood, you can't escape if you try, traffic sucks, you can be acting the fool and hollering and carrying on and while you carry on you're caught on film in 27 traffic cameras and fourteen minutes of red lights. And I did nothing wrong. They just want to intimidate, yell, get off on making someone scared and I don't do that. I can cuss in three languages.

Then we pass this intersection and there are fire trucks and at least ten police cars and American flags and the two guys in the silver SUV are all the sudden not yelling anymore. Afraid of getting pulled over.

They screeched tires right on my bumper and pulled past me and sped off.

I pulled into a parking lot.

I hate road rage. When I was really stressed about my life, especially times at work or when I was married, I had a lot of road rage and I was so shamed by it. I'm a good driver and now I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. My life is so much less pinched and compressed, my road rage has evaporated along with my commute. But I still don't flinch when some joker starts riding my bumper, pissed off because I had the audacity to change lanes. Maybe I should be a little less f*ck-you. Some of these idiots have guns.

- - -

I sat there in the parking lot, my Jeep idling, watching the little procession of firetrucks and police cars, thinking about that day back in September. A few days after 9/11 my ex-husband and I got in my car and we drove around the whole city, watching in awe as people lit candles on street corners and waved flags and honked at each other in a show on friendship and togetherness.

More than one of us knew someone on a plane. I did. And there was the general feeling of outrage, astonishment, unity. Bigger than all of it was this feeling of Americanness, all of us multi-colored, multi-ethnic, freakyass Los Angelenos taking to the streets and honking and waving and crying together. We do everything in our dumb cars. That is how we did September 11th, and 12th and 13th. We drove around waving flags and crying and honking, but the good honking. It was insane.

We weren't flipping each other off after 9/11. We lit candles and waved our flags and for weeks the streets were the politest you have ever seen. No one honked out of rage. We let each other merge for goodness sakes. We let people go ahead. We put traffic into perspective.

And now here I am nine years later on the same day, embarrassed because I flipped off the roadrager who honked at me. Maybe instead of a National Day of Anything we could just be forgiving for one day. Not burn any books or yell or preach or cuss off anyone. Just be nice. Me included.

No flipping off. No honking for merging. No being irritated in the checkout line. Simply be polite and gracious for 24 hours once a year.

Posted by laurie at September 11, 2010 10:09 PM