Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bread and Circus

Now this post has nothing to do with bread. Really. Bread was the farthest thing from my mind when I took the exit off 95 onto the Beltway yesterday on the new moon. Joy and Sorrow holds ritual at a public park, and while you can reserve and pay $20 online, you have to show up in person to get the code to their gate. (34 miles one-way, 29 miles per gallon, $3.04 per gallon) Nelly Furtado crooned from the speakers of my mother's La Sabre (which I am driving to death whilst she is in Florida on vacation) and I was negotiating the bottle top to my water. Then a little white sports car dove through traffic for the last time.

Three cars lengths ahead the Beltway exploded with spinning cars and a puff cloud of incinerated car paint. Zippy had got himself mowed down by a white SUV. I swerved into the shoulder in the center of the road as fragments of headlights rained down. 911 had only a busy signal, although it looked like the driver of the relatively undamaged SUV had gotten through. He had manuvered onto the shoulder just ahead of me, and was now standing on the shoulder in his pink polo shirt (an interesting recent fad among completely straight men). By the time I had canceled my call, a plain-clothes Statee had pulled over on the median from the East bound side.

There's a certain amount of confidence that marks a Statee even out of uniform. How many of us can leap a concrete divider, organize a group of bystanding men in three seconds, and without even pausing, casually stroll out and stop rush hour traffic on a Beltway armed with nothing more than a upturned palm? Rush hour drivers who would rather creep by Zippy over giving the Statee a few minutes to push the dead car off the road. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't convince anyone armed even with a rocket launcher.

The Statee gestured over the bystanders and got them to push the fuel-leaking Zippy over onto the shoulder behind the SUV. The driver sat in the car the whole time and didn't even help, although he seemed unharmed. Another unmarked Statee arrived on the scene. I then had to convince the annoyed rush hour drivers to allow me off the shoulder and back into the flow of things. Which took me four minutes and 19 seconds before some guy in a red convertable either took pity or was too busy rubber-necking. Some 200 meters down the road, Zippy's front bumper continued to impede traffic.

Off I went to Patapsco and got our gate codes. The toe truck for Zippy had arrived when I cruised by, which meant Zippy's driver had finally been ejected. My mind had scripted a young white guy, and yet there next to Zippy was a late 50s heavy-set black guy wearing a pink polo shirt. Two white vehicles, two drivers in pink polo shirts. And then as I took the exit ramp back towards Giant so I could buy bread mix for ritual ($2.39) and Cherry Wheat Sam Adams for ritual beer ($8.39), a pigeon forced me to a complete stop by insisting on walking the whole way across.

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