Sunday, September 21, 2008

Alternate side parking

I'm in charge of parking a friend's car while he and his wife are out west. It's a Toyota Prius, and although I always have some trouble remembering the exact sequence of activities one initiates to start the goddam thing, it is amusing to drive once it's going. For the record, I find the notion that there even is an exact sequence of what I consider to be disintuitive events--some bizarre analogue of foreplay--needed just to start a car [A CAR!] profoundly annoying.

Anyway, although I'm reporting all this now, I've driven it a number of times before. The first thing I noticed? It's zippier than I thought it would be. But once you get past that, the cool thing is this whole electric/gasoline engine interface. The astonishing thing about the Prius is the almost imperceptible smoothness with which it switches from gas to zap. And back.

Now I am here to tell you, dear reader, that I am an extraordinarily talented driver. Soft hands, a gentle touch, an almost otherworldly understanding of the dynamics of the thing writhing in thrall beneath me.
Wait a minute.
We're talking cars here, right?
Yeah. What did you think we were talking about?
I dunno. "Writhing in thrall beneath me?"
How else would you describe the act of driving a car?
Well, gee. I can think of about a million other ways to describe it.
Well that's how I'm describing it.
Okay. Just had to ask.
Back to the matter at hand: When I say this to you, dear reader; when I talk about automobiles to you, you must treat it as Gospel. (Speaking of Gospel, remind me to tell you about walking down the street the other day listening to Magic--Bruce Springsteen's better-than-you-would-imagine recent album.) So when I tell you that the gas/zap interface is a technological wonder, you must also take this as Gospel.

And really, what's the act of mashing your foot on the accelerator if not some version of call and response? If that's the term. Can I get a witness?

Anyway, back to driving: Some of my less talented friends confuse aggressive driving with good driving. My friend Earl does this, and as a result he's always hitting something or rolling sideways down embankments. This is not to say aggression isn't a good driving trait. It is, in fact, essential. But it's got to be enlightened aggression. Zen-like aggression. Open to wonder. Open to tears at the joy of it all.

Zen-like aggression is not to be confused with passive aggression, by the way. Passive aggression is a fine way to conduct your affairs in general, but it's a bad way to drive.

It's also a good way to paint. I keep looking at my portrait of Hank Greenberg, trying to decide what to do next, all the while succumbing to the feeling that it's great just the way it is. I'm just sitting here in the office (9.30 on a Sunday morning. You think this shit is easy?), looking at my painting. I guess I'm waiting for it to make the first move.

I keep a list of ways in which Picasso and I differ as painters. Me? I'm passive aggressive. Him? Protean fury (if that isn't the most overworked cliche about Picasso in the history of the world) 24-seven.

Which has never been confused with passive aggression. Crikeys--I better man-up or they're never gonna give me a fucking chapel to paint.


Blogger meggie said...

Wow, I love your paintings. Love your ideas about driving cars, but I am female, & a car is a car is a car to me.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Earl said...

For the record, I am an assertive driver, not an aggressive driver (although, to be fair, at times I can be aggressive). As for running into things, I would think that TYOMP would endeavor to be more accurate with its reporting. Things have been running into me. The last incident thankfully only damaged the car and not the lives of the passengers inside. As the Wyoming Highway Patrolman said, these kinds of accidents generally turn out way worse than this one, thanks to your quick thinking. Make a note.

9:33 AM  

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