Coming home from mom’s in Burbank yesterday I took the standard route home: Golden State Freeway to Fletcher to Silver Lake Boulevard. After making the right onto the last thoroughfare and getting up to the reservoir, I find in my rearview mirror from out of nowhere a spiffy new champagne-colored sports sedan right on my exhaust pipe, driven by a young woman of the Asian persuasion. In the passenger seat is another.
Though such unsafe and beligerent behavior automatically raises my hackles, I proceeded to do my best to ignore the encroachment and navigate my way around the easily winding road at around 40 mph â€” not too slow, but obviously not fast enough for them.
Not that I’m a speed demon but I would have been willing to push the needle a little farther up â€” if for no other reason than to put some air between her nose and my ass â€” had I been able. Trouble is my tough and dependable, 8.5-year-old Nissan truck is not handling very well right now and hasn’t been for several months because not only does she need a new set of shoes, but an alignment is in tall order, along with a four-pack of shocks, too. Nothing “unsafe at any speed” mind you… just requiring diligent vigilance.
The ride resulting from the current mix of all that worn out stuff is a combo of loose and loopy. Even the slightest turn or curve feels slippery, and the lack of shock absorbsion leaves the truck bobbing and dipping and rocking like a skiff in choppy water… all of which necessitates me driving in a manner that the bitch behind me clearly is unacquainted with: carefully.
So I make it around the east side of the reservoir with her fey-colored car looming in my rearview and moving back and forth across my my six like a bogey I can’t shake, then I head down the short hill that bears around to the left to where Silver Lake Boulevard flattens out and heads toward Sunset â€” maintaiing a safe speed of 40, give or take an mph or two â€” and by the time we hit the bottom of the drop she’s got her car practically kissing my bumper, and that’s it: I execute a perfect 15-degree clockwise body turn give her the full glare in the mirror and let off the gas and just coast.
This forces her to do two things. First she has to actually slow down and get off me. Nice. Second, not so nice. After having to suffer the indignity of taking her leaden foot off the gas she manifests her outrage by submitting unto me a long and oddly crooked middle finger crowned with a perfectly manicured (and champagne colored) nail.
At first I laugh. Then I slammed on the brakes allowing her to barrel into me. The sound of the crash is as apocalyptic as my mood. And before her airbag has fully deployed I was out of my truck and reaching through her smashed windshield where I grabbed her still extended middle finger and twisted it even more crooked.
Suuuuuure I did.
At first I did laugh at her blatant over-reaction, but I didn’t slam on the brakes. I just shrugged and shook my head and kept coasting on toward the red light at Effie. Slowing to a stop in front of Spaceland, I spied that she was about to quantify her bitch quotient by trying to come around me on the right and pass between me and the curb â€” thus solidifying her idiocy and showing me that nothing and no one can keep her from getting to her AA meeting at Cafe Tropical at anything less than the speed she wishes and wants. Because Madame Butterfly always gets what she wants.
I suppose I should have just let her scoot on by, but instead I said “Oh hell no you’re not!” and I angled my truck over toward the curb and blocked her.
Her expression was priceless. A cross between the screamer in the classic Edvard Munch painting and an angry shitsu dog. And it all morphed into a more subdued “What The Fuck?!” as her tiny little brain couldn’t possibly stop thinking about the Nordstrom sale and instead connect the dots and comprehend why anyone would react to being flipped off that way.
And I could’ve been anyone. I could’ve been even more of a psycho than I already am and gotten out of my truck with a gun or a crowbar or a golf club or a ham sandwich and a bottle of Jack Daniels greedily intent on assaulting and battering my way into her vapid and vacant little world.
Instead I stayed put and executed a 165-degree twist in my seat and peered in at her â€” not antagonistally, just observationally. Unflinching. Expressionless. Unmoving. Like a scientist staring through a microscope who’s isolated some worthless bacterium that’s flopping around in the shallow end of a petri dish. Did it just long enough to make her uncomfortable in a way perhaps she’s never felt before. Maybe a little foolish even, which is what she was.
She responded with an exasperated shrug and a flip of her expertly coiffed hair extensions. It was as close to an apology as I was going to get. And by then the light was green and it was time to get moving again. And the rest of the way we traveled down Silver Lake together until I split off at Parkman? She kept herself to a very safe distance behind me. Respectful even.