Rush Hour Traffic

I have been driving for ten months now, and quite frankly, I think it’s about time I pull over and take a nap. (rim shot)

But seriously, folks. In the ten months I’ve been driving, I’ve learned to detest cars for two reasons.

REASON #1: Unless it’s your car, you have to listen to other people’s music. On a recent car trip to Mexico (“Land of the 40-Foot Bathroom Bacteria”), I experienced my friend Anthony’s “Tape-of-the-Month” system, which he uses in his car. This system is basically one whereby he puts a tape in his tape deck and listens to it over and over for the space of about a month, at which point he puts a new one in, takes the old one out and, now completely sick of it, hurls it into the oncoming traffic. The tape for this month was Rush’s “Moving Pictures.”Now, I have nothing against Rush, except of course that the lead singer looks like Tom Petty’s plastic surgery nightmare and sounds like Mickey Mouse on helium and the drummer very obviously takes adrenaline-increasing drugs before playing and probably has three arms anyway and most of their songs last longer than some marriages. But by the time we had reached San Diego, we’d heard this album three times, and anything was preferable to hearing it again, including popping my own ear drums with a pencil. So I very loudly suggested to Anthony that he replace Rush with something else.

Anthony complied, but what he replaced the Rush tape with was a tape of songs #300-260 in a radio station’s “Top 300 Songs of All Time” countdown. Apparently, his father recorded the tape off of K-EARTH 101 (there’s an earth I bet no one cares about saving!) in 1978. Eleven years ago. Rush was almost preferable.

REASON #2: If you drive a ’78 Ford Granada, all you have are problems. A few weeks ago, my friend Aaron and I were returning from a jaunt to Temecula when my car broke down. Aaron and I, being, legally, guys, immediately felt compelled to open the hood and look around inside. Neither of us have anymore automotive knowledge than, say, your average garden slug, but we nonetheless felt this primal urge to look at whatever is kept under the hood, perhaps thinking in the back of our minds that whichever part was not working correctly would light up and spit out a list of repair instructions.

As it turns out, we didn’t even need that, because we were able to determine the problem ourselves. When we opened the hood — and this was our first clue — a cloud of smoke that would have rivaled the one coming from the Hindenberg in its final moments billowed out. When the smoke cleared we saw that there was smoke coming out of the engine. This was not, mind you, steam from the radiator. This was smoke from the engine. We thought perhaps we had hit a squirrel and it had caught fire. After careful consideration, we determined that this smoke was probably what had made the car stop moving. Call it guy instinct.

K-EARTH 101 (KRTH 101.9 FM) is a popular oldies station in Southern California. I don't think 1978 exactly qualifies as "oldies" -- it especially didn't in 1991, when I wrote this -- but who am I to question their programming decisions?

I don't know who appreciated my Rush jokes other than my friends. I think Rush's fans are almost exclusively teen-age guys, and I think hardly anyone outside of that demographic group even knows who they are. I have all their albums, and I think they're swell, even though I'm technically no longer a teen-age guy. We'll see how I feel when I'm 30.