Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chalk Talk

The nicest thing about living in the most congested piece of real estate this side of.....well I do not know where exactly but I am sure that there is someplace on the planet that is more densely populated than the State of Concrete Gardens.....is that there is always something to amuse and annoy, to illuminate and irritate me. Life is a cabaret my friends. It is most likely a danger inherent in starting six days out of every seven at 2:40 a.m. (I tend to sleep in until 5:00 a.m. on Sunday) that by the time Friday makes its weekly appearance I am channeling my inner Sebastian. Actually that little pr*ck is more than a tad too cheery for me by day's end on Friday. I find it much easier being green.

Yesterday afternoon I ran out to pick up something for lunch and as I made the crawl up Parsippany Road to Route 46 (only in Jersey can 5 miles = 20 minutes in the car at any time day or night) I was behind a person in a mini-van. Apropos of nothing, is there a mode of transportation that has been - within the life span of a single generation - been more emasculated than the van? I remember as a kid that only cool guys, delivery guys and guys who hung out with Patty Hearst drove vans. For crying out loud, the Bad News Bears traveled all the way from southern California to Houston Texas in one, with Kelly Leak at the wheel and no adult supervision anywhere on board. Drop a "mini" in front of it and suddenly it is the vehicle of choice of soccer moms and testicularly-deficient males around the country. Where have you gone George Harrison? It certainly is a long time since the van has been fab.

Anyway, as I sat at one of the 8,000,000 traffic lights that the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills has cleverly placed along Parsippany Road behind Mr. or Mrs. Mini-Van my eye was drawn to the "art" in the rear window. I do not know if you have ever seen such a thing but apparently the driver's itch could not be scratched by something as simultaneously mundane and inane as the suction-cup attached YIELD sign blaring out, "BABY ON BOARD" or some such other prattle. This person had what I presume to be his or her entire family stenciled along the mini-van's back window. And I mean all of them. I sat in traffic behind this person long enough to learn that only only does he or she have children but also a dog and two cats.

The only place I usually expect to find artwork done by chalk outline guy (who is not to be mistaken for the late, great Bob Ross - not on this day, not on any day) is a crime scene so forgive me but I fail to see the propriety of affixing this junk to one's vehicle. Why would you want to have your loved ones depicted in chalk outline anywhere? Other than John List is there anyone else who has ever believed that is an acceptable family photo?

Additionally, if you do have it on your vehicle, then are you obligated to keep it accurate and current? You should be. When Mr. Mittens gets hit by a car while chasing a blue jay, then you should have to either place an "X" through him or replace his Cheshire grin with a tombstone. When Junior undergoes a growth spurt the summer between 9th and 10th grade and he is beset by acne, then you should have to redraw him taller and splotchy. And when younger sister Sadie - the apple of Mom's eye and Daddy's little girl - gets visited by the stork halfway through 11th grade, you should have to update her ever-burgeoning belly via chalk outline and add an infant to the gallery once he or she arrives.

The extraordinary thing to me about this mobile art show was that I was apparently behind a vehicle owned by a member of the Duggar clan (or at least a fan of their TV show). There was so much drawn on the rear window that it resembled a piece of replacement glass one would find at a salvage yard. There were two tall figures - and since one had a ponytail and the other did not I presumed this was a "traditional" stick figure family - and at least five shorter stick figure people to go along with the dog and couple of cats. I know not whether all other motorists are supposed to be in awe of this individual's fertility in producing a veritable litter of children or, perhaps, impressed by the economic savvy inherent in not only being able to afford five children and their attendant animal companions but a sporty vehicle and an on-call graffiti artist. I for one was extremely impressed.

I confess that it may very well just be the curmudgeon in me but I give as little of a rat's ass about who lives inside of your home with you as I do which member or members of your precious cargo you happen to be transporting on board with you at a particular moment in time. Although sitting behind Noah's meat wagon yesterday afternoon I hit upon what might be the next logical step in the evolution of the marketing of unsolicited information: a mini-sized "ON BOARD" sign (with an appropriately smaller suction cup) that the driver can position on the inside rear window of a vehicle directly above the appropriate chalk stick figure so that I - formerly just a disinterested fellow motorist but now an unwitting extra in a fossil fuel-consuming mobile reality show - can monitor with pinpoint accuracy just who is in your vehicle every second of every journey.

On second thought, maybe I will find a place to get my windows tinted and then draw a whole sh*tload of Hell's Angels across my back window. That ought to give Mr. Mittens something to think about.

Where the hell did I put my chalk?

-AK

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