Labor Day. A day we don't work. A fitting way to celebrate the holiday, if you think about it. Check out AFL-CIO president John Sweeney's bio, for example -- the guy hasn't worked a day in his life. What exactly does one do as a "research assistant with the Ladies Garment Workers," anyway? And how bad does your resume have to be to warrant this sad confession?
That's right, I'm bringing out the smack. A few people have had it coming, and today I'm bringing it. Like Rosie O'Donnell. Is it just me, or does Rosie's latest hairdo make her look like Bob's Big Boy?.
And the whole coming out of the closet thing. There's this myth that admitting one's homosexuality can harm one's entertainment career. I call it the Ellen DeGeneres fallacy. Ellen is a martyr for the cause of bad comedy writing, not homosexuality. So now Rosie has stepped out of that oversized glass closet she was in. This is supposed to be brave. Maybe so. What's really brave is that haircut she's sporting.
And what's with this "women's wisdom" kick the entertainment world has been on for the last few years? "Ya-Ya Sisterhood," "American Quilt," "The View," you see the pattern. Every summer, another chick bonding flick. Every fall, another talk show featuring some snarky new gal. We're all extremely wise beyond our years, we're bold, we're beautiful, we have active sex lives. Yay us.
Well, the whole thing is starting to tick me off. If Anna Quindlen, Barbara Walters, and the gals from "The Sopranos" are the best brains womankind has to offer, then we'd better rethink the Nineteenth Amendment. Fortunately, they aren't. It's just that the truly wise and interesting women are all too busy to sit around sipping coffee at 10 a.m. and discussing orgasms in front of a television audience.
I've also got a thing to say to the guy at the Dillon's on Rock Road last Saturday, the one who made the female grocery clerk push his cart out to his car, while he strolled along behind her, hands empty. The perfectly healthy though a bit pudgy guy. The guy who didn't tip the lady when she was done putting his bags in his trunk. That guy.
One more thing. I have a friend who teaches middle school in Detroit, and at the start of the school year a few years ago, he was reading through the roster to get to know his students. He got to a student whose name was spelled "T-a-m-k-i-a." So, he pronounced it as spelled. An irate girl in the back of the class corrected him:
"It's Tamika!" As you savor this little scene, imagine the head bobbing from side to side on perfectly rigid shoulders, just to get the full effect.
So my friend said, "I'm sorry, your name was spelled T-a-m-k-i-a on the roster. I'll change it."
"That is how you spell it, but it's Tamika!"
"But T-a-m-k-i-a spells 'Tamkia,' not 'Tamika'."
Sure enough, the next day the girl's overly large mother came to school to give somebody what for. This involved walking down the hall testifying, as it were, with her daughter and a handful of other children in tow, like a sad little carnival troupe. The troupe stopped in the principal's office so she could set him straight, and then continued to my friend's classroom, enlarged by one subdued principal, where mama lectured my friend as well. Nobody tells her baby how to spell her name, who does he think he is, etc.
This time, he wisely kept his mouth shut.
Since Tamkia has no doubt gone on to a successful college career, I'm quite certain she reads Sand in the Gears, as do all educated people. So Tamkia, this is for you:
Everybody gripes about other people's driving. This is, of course, because other people drive like monkeys on crack. But everybody complains about driving, and nobody does anything about it -- for the most part, beyond some encouraging signs of road rage a few years ago which have since petered out. Well, today I'd like to remedy that situation with some proposed Rules of the Road:
1. Left turn lights: Anyone who allows more than two car lengths between himself and the preceding car during the brief opportunity afforded by the left-turn arrow will have his bank account reduced by a third, all his timepieces confiscated, and his right foot run through by a red hot javelin. He clearly does not appreciate the value of time, or the responsibility he has to free those behind him in the turn lane, rather than condemning them, through his insouciance, to another eternity waiting for the next green arrow.
2. Multiple lanes: People who drive in the passing (left) lane without making a visible effort to pass those on the right may be fired upon, so long as this is done with reasonable accuracy, by drivers and passengers in trailing vehicles. Given the high probability that the driver shares significant genes with passengers, collateral damage to the latter is acceptable.
3. Vehicle size: Nobody under the age of twenty-five may drive any vehicle larger than a Honda Civic.
4. Taste: Men over 50 driving pimped out 1990 or newer Corvettes, Cadillacs, or Firebirds will be stripped to have their inadequate manhoods displayed to all passersby with eyesight sufficient to notice.
5. Vehicle adornment: Drivers who display stickers of the cartoon character Calvin urinating on various objects of disdain may be pulled from their vehicles by nearby passengers, tied to the hood, and castrated with a reasonably sharp instrument. Drivers with a "My student beat up your honors student" bumper sticker may be pulled from their vehicles and physically beaten by any current or former honors student who believes he can take them.
6. Music: Drivers with their windows down so that surrounding passengers have to listen to lyrics about "ho's gettin' doggied" are subject to imprisonment in the solitary confinement wing of a state penitentiary for not less than three years, during which time they will be forced to listen to Donny and Marie Osmond's 1975 album, "I'm Leaving It All Up To You," played on a continuous loop 24 hours a day.
7. Intersections: Drivers are free to ram, at their own risk, the protruding front ends of vehicles on side roads that have failed to halt behind their stop sign or stop light. Drivers turning left at an intersection are free to do the same to vehicles in the left-turn lane on the street perpendicular to their own, when said vehicles protrude more than three feet into the intersection.
8. Four-Way Stops: One car per stop sign at a time, rotating counter-clockwise. All violators will be removed from their vehicles and placed in the middle of the intersection where the offense occurred, and required to dodge traffic for one hour, or until such time as hospitalization is urgent.
9. Highway entrance ramps: Drivers entering the highway are free to sideswipe passing vehicles that fail to give them entrance by temporarily moving to open left lanes. Highway drivers who brake in order to allow vehicles to enter the highway will be required to suck on a hot brake pad for one hour.
10. Parking: When waiting for someone who has entered his vehicle for the purpose of leaving a parking spot, drivers need wait no longer than two minutes once said individual has closed his vehicle door. Once this time period has elapsed, a driver may park directly behind the offending vehicle.
11. Litter: Drivers will be required to eat anything they throw from their cars. This includes cigarettes, which will be re-lit before ingestion.
There you have it: eleven steps to better driving. Email them to your Congressman, tape them on your dashboard, evangelize them to your friends and neighbors. And remember people, let's be careful out there.