AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: Things You Think In Times Like These DATE: 10/15/2004 08:04:00 AM ----- BODY:
I had an awesome morning. No, do not attempt to adjust your browser settings--for once in my life, morning was a good thing. This is because rather than the usual political fodder or sports caterwauling of morning radio shows, I listened to my American Beauty soundtrack in the car and just let my mind wander. A movie soundtrack is great to do that with; it makes everything you do somehow dramatic, and it's eerie, sometimes, how well-timed the music can be to what's going on around you. Actually, a movie of my life should contain some kind of masterful cinematography showing my view as I pass over Rte 3 before merging on to it; especially on a morning like this one, dark and rainy, when the brake lights stretching off toward the horizon cast a red glow... As I slipped the CD into the car radio for playing, I was suddenly very aware of what I was doing, taking a plastic disc and feeding it into a machine and producing sounds which I find pleasant. It made me wonder what the reaction to it would be if I had, say, an African bushman with me in the car. Would he think I was a witch? Of course, if I had an African bushman in the car, I'd probably put on some Ladysmith Black Mambazo to make him feel a little more at home. Assuming he was familiar with the group, though, would he look around wondering where they're coming from? If I could explain it to him, would he think I'd stolen their souls? More importantly, how would we fit his spear and ceremonial headdress in a midsized sedan? And would Empire Nuts be knocking down my door for commercial rights? Hey, speaking of African bushmen, what do they think when cameramen from National Geographic come to take their picture? Do they think it's a medical procedure? Some kind of spell? How do you explain "take your picture" to someone who a) doesn't speak your language and b) doesn't own a toothbrush? I think about these things, though. I daydream a lot about having someone from a very foreign land, or possibly from the future or the past, in the car with me. I just feel that the car would be the best place to show a person the modern world. It has plenty of the technology we find indespensible inside and offers a moving view of what's going on outside. I think if time travel was possible, the best use for it would be some kind of Era Exchange program, wherein people could go on trips to, say, Shakespearean England, and in turn host people in their current time from other eras. Of course, in eras in which they still believed in witchcraft, this might be a tough sell. But it would be cool nonetheless. I'd love to see how someone from the early 20th century reacted to the late 20th century. Specifically, if I could pick anyone to ride around in the car with from another time period, it would be my Aunt Marjorie. She was actually my great-great-aunt, but that's neither here nor there. Of the generations of ruthless women on both sides of my family, she was probably the toughest. She was a single mother before that was "done". The most popular family legend about her was when she once drove her car off a highway via the on-ramp. When she was stopped, she said to the policeman, "Young man, everyone in this town knows where I'm going. They can damned well get out of the way." The story is, he let her go. Yeah, my Aunt Marjorie and I would have a bitchin-assed time. Just as I got on Rte 3, I saw a terrific number of birds come swarming out of the trees next to the road at the same time. I also saw a person with bumper stickers plastered to the back of his car that said "KEEP BASEBALL IN MONTREAL / www.savetheexpos.com". I was like, are you kidding? I sped up to get a look at him, but he started getting pissed off and yelled and flailed around in my general direction, so I had to back off a bit. I noticed as he passed me again that his license plate said, and I am not making this up, "WIZARD". Seriously, why would you drive around like that if you don't want people to look at you? Well, perhaps there was some misunderstanding as to what I was trying to do. Speeding along at 60 mph surrounded by metal and glass doesn't lend itself to communication. So I've been surfing these sites lately, Low Brow dot com and, a site like it that Jane pointed out to me, grouphug.us, and it is amazing what people will say if they can do it anonymously. Like one guy on grouphug put up, "I once knocked up two girls within a couple of days of each other. I was living with one of them at the time. "That was a rough week." Who came up with the term "surfing" for clicking around on the Internet, anyway? What person was reminded of hanging ten by viewing webpages? Remember back in the eighties when PCs and modems were a very new thing for most people to have? Remember news broadcasts detailing this emerging phenomenon? I specifically remember one that featured a story on [insert heavy quote marks here]SURFING the INTERNET [end heavy quote marks]. I would love to see a tape of those broadcasts now. I remember another news broadcast when I was a kid that covered the emerging AIDS crisis. My mother had the flu the same week, and I asked her if she had AIDS. Now that sparked a lecture. I have some serious karma coming to me when I have kids. Anyway, I got to work, still glowing from exploring the strange inner recesses of my own brain, and the first person I spoke with on the phone called me "sir." Sweet.
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