Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Evil That Men Do, Part 3 - Drive Bys

During the coldest days of January, the prospect of summer will elicit a momentary nostalgia for open windows and soft breezes, but I am rudely disabused from any such reverie - usually in late March - by a much grimmer reality: drive bys. You know what I mean - the practice of blasting one’s car stereo, for the supposed benefit of home owners and passer-bys. It’s the equivalent of me living in my car, and driving through your neighborhood all the time.

Now my neighborhood is more likely to build a statue venerating, say, Franki Valli rather than John Lennon. Over time this preference has evolved to the current dance music, and the drive-bys here tend to reflect that.

The problem was recently exacerbated with the installation of a traffic light at the corner nearest to my house. I should be thankful that the neighborhood children are safer, but then again, aren’t they the ones who will just grow up to do the driving by in a few years? The true impact of this (meaning how it affects me personally) is that now the cars are no longer just driving by. They are stopping to wait for the light to change. I suppose that the increased amount of exhaust fumes ought to be of concern to me, but I’ll leave that to someone whose priorities are straight. I now get to hear entire verses of the hits of the day, right through my front window. I’m missing the upside to this.

And yet, there’s an even worse variation on this theme. Some of my fellow fifty year olds – with their tastes frozen in time – are now participating in this practice. I recently had the misfortune of sharing the road with the driver of a 1985 Cadillac with Jersey plates. He was tailgating and blasting his radio even more than I usually do. Rather than retaliate in some way, I felt the need to learn more about this man, so I tried to keep up. About an hour later, I finally got a glimpse and a listen. He was about my age, with his graying hair combed into a pompadour, and the song was Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out”. I concluded that he was still living with his mom. (Shouldn’t you only play “Movin’ Out” if you’ve actually moved out?)

Of course, there are those who still play Barry Manilow or Celine Dion in this manner, but let’s face it - they’re beyond our help right now.

In my neighborhood’s first bid for cultural diversity, the guy across the street has started to blast his radio when working on his motorbike. It’s usually “Take it Easy” or “China Grove”. I tell myself that it could be worse. It could be “Free Bird”. (Oh wait, there it is…)

Of course, when I’m out there driving myself, I feel I must do my part to offset the bad affects of what I’ve had to hear, by adding my own preferred music to the mix. I realize that this might appear hypocritical of me, bur really, the only other alternative would be for me to build an automatic egg-thrower that targets sources of noise near the house - itself a toned down version of another revenge fantasy deemed even more anti-social by family members who’d like me to stay out of jail.

So when you see me driving by, blasting some ungodly noise that I feel you need to hear, just think about all the eggs I’m saving.

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