Sunday, December 22, 2002

Get the @%*&^§# Out of My Way!

Where on my car is there a big lit-up sign that reads "Please jump in front of me"? I don't get it... I mean, if I saw a beat-to-shit grey Volvo coming toward me, I would step back rather than forward, stay in my lane rather than drift across three others, and basically gather up my skirts and wait for it to pass by like a herd of lemmings. I mean, Volvos are usually driven by crazy and inept people... do not get in front of them! Or idle beside them! Or park near them!

Let me tell you something, people... for more than thirty years, Volvo was the safest car on the roads. You can drive a Volvo into a cinderblock wall at 80 mph and walk away from it without so much as mussing your hair. And so it stands to reason that Volvos would be the automobile of choice for people who are most likely to drive into a cinderblock wall at 80 mph. If you're a bad driver, and you smashed up your last three cars, and you are terrified of getting sideswiped and/or rear-ended on the freeways, wouldn't you make an effort to buy the car that would practically guarantee your survival of such? That is, a Volvo (or nowadays a Volkswagen Jetta)? And so it would therefore also stand to reason that most of the Volvos you see on the road — especially the ones that already have dented bumpers and cracked grilles — will have at least a 75% chance of being driven by an utter maniac. I mean, it's one of the reasons I bought a Volvo... not because I am a bad driver (despite what my Grandmother thinks), but rather because they strike terror in the hearts of man... and on the roads, I would rather be feared than loved.

But apparently they don't strike quite enough terror. In the last two days, seventeen people have stepped suddenly into the path of my car. Several of those people were small children being jaywalked across the street by oblivious parents in dark clothing. An uncountable number of cars have wandered right across my path, no turn-signals or anything, just floating across the lanes (most notably a gorgeous mint 1985 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit, which would not only bankrupt my insurance company but would utterly crush my Anglophile feelings).

And I just don't understand it. I'm only glad that I am as alert as I am... if I had glanced down to change my radio station when I was crossing Ashby on Shattuck, I would have plowed right over two little girls and their mother, who are luckier than shit that I have good tires, quick reflexes, and brakes that actually work. If I hadn't had my eyes on all three mirrors and my blind-spot at the same time (it's one of the two points I missed on my driver's test, so I'm sensitive about it) when I was pulling out of my parking space on Piedmont Avenue, I would never have seen that red sportscar pull a U-turn right behind me and lurk right in my obvious path.

Scary. People are scary. And they get in my way! I hate that more than anything... no matter how much I pray and how much I meditate and how much I remind myself that the river flows around the rocks, anything or anybody getting in my way just flips a toggle-switch of fury in my head. It's a reflex reaction.

Oh, well. The river does run around the rocks (though it also wears them away, little by little), and I do have the quick reflexes and good tires needed to stave off disaster, so I guess it's all right. On to more amusing topics...

This morning I attended my first Catholic baptism. Are Catholics the only ones who baptize infants? My Grandmother seems to think so, and that this and the consecrated priesthood are their greatest go-straight-to-Hell errors (and also has a lot to say on the topic of sprinkling versus immersion), and I don't know differently. At any rate, this morning at the Church of Saint Joseph the Worker, my coworker BB and her husband Chuy had their new baby Kate baptized. It was an interesting ceremony, though I kept losing the gist in the bilingual rituals... it would start making sense for a moment, and then the priest would switch back to Spanish and I'd drop the thread.

Still, the church was very pretty (though it smelled strangely like my dentist's office), with some really quite gorgeous stained-glass windows and an alterpiece of rather exceptional elegance, and the priest was amusingly good-natured. But I and BB's two college friends who were sitting in front of me and the elderly journalist and middle-aged housekeeper behind me were the only non-Catholics in the somewhat populated church, so I felt kind of silly, sitting in this little pod of silent ignorance, not knowing what to say in the Responsive Reading (which was done in Spanish, since all the non-Catholics and non-Spanish-speakers were the same people), and wondering why certain people crossed themselves in different manners, and why the doors into the vestry and other backstage areas were so short, and what was in the intriguing-looking bronze box to the left of the Font (in the corner of what I believe is the East transept, near the shrine of what I think is The Immaculate Heart).

I've always been utterly fascinated by Catholic ritual. It's so interesting and complicated and antique, so much more glamorous than the stern and colorless Reform church I grew up with. There are all these pictures and statues and buildings and beads, confession and Mass and prayers for certain occasions and endless opportunities for pious accessorization. Of course, one would have to put up with the rather specious dogmas of the Church, not to mention the idiotic bad politics of the modern Vatican. When I can't believe in the divinity of the Bible, I think I would have rather more trouble believing in the infallibility of that poor old Pope or the sanctity of a priesthood that seems to be corrupted on a rather grand scale. I believe that the Catholic Church does a lot of good, but it has a lot of evil to make up for... and I think the balance is still in the red.

After the ceremony, we repaired to the reception, which also had its share of odd rituals... most notably where the godfather throws coins in the air for the children to scramble after. Also there was the biggest flan I've ever seen (I mean, it was at least two feet across). And Latin music on the stereo (which I like, though the bass lines tend to be all the same) and thirty people speaking Spanish compared to five speaking English... and BB, whose Spanish I can understand quite clearly because she speaks Standard American High-School Spanish and anyone who watched Sesame Street as a kid could figure it out. It wasn't a culture-clash, because the cultures self-segregated to their separate corners.

The English-speakers were plenty of fun, anyway. The elderly journalist in particular was an absolute caution. Journalists are amusing most of the time (except when they're writing those graceless short sentences), they see so much of the stupidity and evil of mankind that they develop a most refreshingly wry worldview... and when they get to A Certain Age (around seventy or eighty), that amusement intensifies. BB's two college friends are intelligent and interesting and manage to fit quite a lot of conversation into very few exchanges. The housekeeper was interesting, but rather more mysterious. I did my usual incognito routine that I adopt around straights, where I said almost nothing about myself but rather appeared to listen attentively and flatteringly to everything being said.

I left before the dancing and drinking got underway, and got home just in time to meet Shiloh on my doorstep. He and his Zach have finally figured out that certain things cannot be done together... that if the two of them had to put up with each-other on just one more shopping trip, blood would be spilled. Shiloh is not the easiest person to shop with, and apparently Zach isn't, either, so the two of them at it were sneaking up on nuclear meltdown. But then I have no difficulty shopping with Shiloh, so long as we aren't looking for anything in particular (in which cases one is often tempted to brain him with any Baccarat elephants or Kirk-Steiff soup tureens that happen to be lying at hand), and I just love caressing retail objects whenever I get the chance, so we went scooting around in the Elmwood District and poking our noses in the shops.

The best part was to be in the shops without having to buy anything in particular... though I still have my uncle and my cousin and her two kids to buy for, I didn't really care if I got their gifts while I was out. So instead of gift-hunting, I could people-watch, which is simply the more interesting pastime. I even got to display my knowledge of English tradition when two shopgirls in a favorite jewelry boutique were trying to figure out what Boxing Day is. I almost bought a pair of pink jeans that had been marked down to $2, but I didn't think I was quite queen enough to carry them off (they were strawberry ice-cream pink, and rather thin material). I even bought a really quite lovely silver ring with a ruby-red garnet as well as a couple of gorgeous Christmas ornaments while we were out (I know, I know, more autogifting... but they were on a great sale), and Shiloh got a glycerin soap with a logic puzzle imbedded inside for his step-father, and a stone etched with the words "Nothing is etched in stone" for his mom.

So then Shiloh went home (Zach was done shopping and had apparently moved on to panicking about what to pack for their trip back East for Christmas with Shiloh's family), and I went home (someday before Christmas I am actually going to manage to get some more ornaments on my tree), and then Grandmother and I went out to do our big Christmas Grocery Shop. First we stopped at Emil Villa's for dinner (always eat a big meal before you grocery-shop, or else you'll come back with loads of good-looking junk), where we have eaten four times already this month, always before a shopping expedition to either Safeway or Longs (which are all in the same Rockridge Shopping Center). I'd had such a vast lunch that the only thing I could manage was a bowl of soup and some rolls, followed by an utterly dreamy custard pie with whipped cream (as if I hadn't had enough flan). Then we got our groceries.

Okay, my other theme today is that I am way hornier than I think is necessary. When I was out and about during the day, I saw so many boys whom I just wanted to jump on and start humping their legs. Looking at them actually made my heart beat faster and my breath catch... and aren't I a little too old for that? Next thing you know I'm going to be popping boners in public. There was this one boy in Safeway that I actually made efforts to follow around... he had the cutest hair and sharply elegant features, and when he looked down to read a label, his neck would arch in this amazingly sculptural way that made me want to latch onto him like a limpet. Earlier, on College Avenue, the pretty blond clerk in the shop where Shiloh bought the puzzle-soap (one of those effeminate hetero types I love) got my motor running to such an extent that I had to remark to Shiloh on leaving the counter that "I want to spank that cute little flip right out of his hair, and then lick it back in again."

I don't know what's wrong with me. But I kind of like it. I hope my heart can take it.

Well after getting all done at Safeway ($195 on Christmas groceries, it boggles the mind), I trundled on home and unloaded the bags and put some of them away (and made Grandmother put the rest away) and then came in here and sat down to check my blogs and then write all about my day for you, my adoring and adorable reader. And now I am going to go to bed and think about blond boys with flippy hair, with those skinny hips and sassy lips and baggy cords and hot eyes. Grrrrr!

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