Untotaled: Stepping 49 (July 13th, 1969) My First Bikini…January 10, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Being painfully bored, I was greatly relieved when Marsha called and said that some of the kids from school were getting together to hang out, drive around Westerville and see if we could have some fun without getting in trouble.

She wanted to use my 1962 Chevy Impala because it was big enough to seat seven people.

I agreed.

We had a great time, but we did start running out of things to do, so we headed off to an area of our community where all the rich people lived. The locals usually did this because we wanted to drive by their houses and talk about what brats they were.

Suddenly Marsha suggested that Carol, who was with us and was about to get her driver’s license, take the wheel and try her luck. As unbelievable as it may sound now, in a moment of sanity, we all thought it was a great idea on that day.

Carol got in the car and the first thing she did was put it in reverse and back my automobile into a deep ditch.

We spent the next twenty minutes trying to get out of the predicament. Then Marsha noticed we were across the street from one of our friends from school, so she walked down the long drive to try to get some assistance. While she was gone, miraculously, we were able to wiggle the car out of the ditch, so by the time she returned with her friend the problem was solved.

As I looked up, there was the girl from the house down the long driveway, standing there, wearing a bikini. It was my first bikini.

Normally Ohio people wear clothing–similar to the reason that bears have fur–for protection, warmth and of course, modesty. But there before me was a bikini, displaying its fruit like a bowl full of cherries.

I don’t know why it shocked me so much. Perhaps I had never been that close to breasts that didn’t belong to my mother. I tried not to stare, and of course, when you try not to do something, it becomes even more obvious that you’re doing it.

She was dressed in a bikini because she had a swimming pool, which normally would have caused us to make fun of her, but since she was wearing a bikini, I reconsidered.

She was the same girl who believed the Easter bunny lived at her house, and who sat next to me in biology class like a timid lump of nothing.

But today she was a bikini.

We didn’t stay long, but all the way back to town I was thinking about the sight. I thought about it all that night. I woke up the next morning thinking about my first bikini.

So later that afternoon, I called the bikini girl on the phone and I asked her out on a date. I realized that some of my friends would ridicule me because they had characterized her as a rich weirdo, but I didn’t care. I was driven by a higher force–certainly not as high as the heavens, but floating somewhere above the earth.

I learned that day that romance needs more than love. It requires lust.

And lust has a very brief lifespan without love.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 38 (Fall of 1967) Parallel Universe… November 1, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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1967.

Fall came. Fall fell.

It seemed to me that the autumn leaves, as they tumbled from the trees, were mocking me for my lack of purpose.

I was bored.

I was also infested by a scratchy discontentment–an itch. I wanted my driver’s license. I was so close.

Even more infuriating was that Jack, from my class, had gotten his license because he’d flunked the sixth grade and was older than the rest of us. Sporting his beat-up Chevy, he drove as a god among us. Suddenly a fellow that normally made the lasses of our class say “yuck” when he walked by was the center of attention from these fair young maidens. Everybody wanted to ride in Jack’s car.

It was aggravating to any young boy in Central Ohio with a shred of dignity and an overabundance of arrogance. That would be me.

I convinced my older brother to take me to a parking lot behind the high school on Sunday afternoons to practice driving, since we knew that the local cop was always at his church teaching the youth group during that time.

The terrifying part of the whole rehearsal was the spectre of having to pass the test on parallel parking. Some local citizen had placed two markers in the back lot by sticking a broomstick in a bucket of cement so that teenagers could put themselves through the paces of trying to place a two-and-a-half ton automobile into the tiny enclosure.

I think what frightened me the most was that I heard through the grapevine that you had to get your tires within six inches of the curb or you would fail. Who could do such a thing? This was a deed more suited for the gods of Chrysler.

But finally, since clocks do move forward, December 18th rolled around and I went to get my license.

As it turned out, I was the last prospect of the day for an instructor who was on his way home to Pennsylvania for Christmas. He was giddy, overjoyed and in a hurry.

The whole test took three-and-a-half minutes–and there was no parallel parking.

Being a stupid teenager, I asked him why we had skipped it. He looked at me, bewildered, like a man who had given a friend a thousand dollars and was wondering why his buddy was commenting on the wrinkles in the bills. He smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Good luck, and drive safely. And Merry Christmas.”

I was a licensed driver. I, too, could be a god–even though it was going to be God Two in our school.

What did I learn during this experience? What lesson concerning worry and trepidation was passed on to me about how life is never what we think it’s going to be?

Well, since I have a tendency to adhere to an unnecessary parcel of negativity, what did I learn?

Not much.

 

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Right or Privilege … May 2, 2013

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Model THis name was Henry Ford.

He was one of the early innovators in the gasoline combustible engine, which was referred to as the “horseless carriage.” We now call them cars.

Of course, at one time he had a prototype of such a vehicle and needed to test drive it to see how it worked in a world which was not suited for such activity. There were no paved roads, and on the dusty highways were horses and pedestrians instead of smoky engines from experimental automobiles. So you can imagine, at first he was an annoyance, or even a laughing-stock.

I wonder what his approach was. Did Henry Ford feel he had a right to the roads because he was smart, clever or entitled? Or did he feel it was a privilege to use the roads since they were normally occupied by horses and people?

Another interesting thing about that invention is that it quickly gained popularity–but it also created immense problems. So even though most of us insist that we have a right to drive a car, it was obvious from the first that those rights had to be curtailed for the common good.

For instance, everybody had to drive on the right-hand side or we would run into each other. Roads had to be paved, which meant there had to be taxes. It was agreed that a license was needed to prove that one was actually able to drive one of the contraptions. Tags were put on the vehicles to both identify them and garner some revenue for the state. Policemen issued tickets to those drivers who would not follow the rules and inhibited others from having a safe journey. When you add toll roads, seat belts, safety checks, car insurance and emissions onto the list, what started out as a “right of passage” is now presented as a cautious privilege.

Yet no one objects to this. The addition of demanding seat belts has lessened the death toll on the highways. The careful scrutiny for alcohol-drinking drivers is keeping us from killing off innocents.

So is driving a right–or a privilege?

Let me give you a definition of what I think a right is. You have the right to do almost anything you want if you can answer this question: “Can I do this without hurting anyone else?”

If the answer is “no” you don’t have the right. I don’t care if the Constitution tells you that you do–the Constitution will eventually have to change for the common good.

Here is the definition of a privilege: “Can I do this without hurting myself?”

So you see, driving is not even a privilege. We are not permitted to sit in our vehicles without a restraint because in doing that, we could kill ourselves.

No, driving is an opportunity. And what is an opportunity? “Can I do this with necessary boundaries?”

So as we assess the issues of our day–be it abortion, immigration, gun rights, gay marriage, terrorism or even political gridlock–we need to ask ourselves if we’re dealing with a right, a privilege or an opportunity. Democracy allots for all three–BUT puts restrictions on privileges and opportunities.

Does a woman have a right to an abortion? Go back to the definition: can this be done without hurting anyone else?

Do I have a right to own a gun? Back to the issue of right, privilege or opportunity.

As you can see, when you remove arguments about morality and replace them with more civil discussions of whether in a Republic such as the United States, we are entitled to some aspect of our lives as a right, privilege or opportunity, it puts things in perspective. Of course, there will still be variances of opinion, but if we’re going to make all of our future plans in this country based upon codes of morality or spiritual ethics, we will be at each other’s throats incessantly. There has to be a different yard stick.

Is this thing we are contemplating a right (can I do this without hurting anyone else?) a privilege (can I do this without hurting myself?) or an opportunity (can I do this with necessary boundaries)?

It is a doorway to the kind of compromise that can be grounded in common sense instead of shady backroom deals.

 

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Driving Miss Crazy … August 3, 2012

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If I had a nickel for every mile I’ve driven across this world since I was sixteen years old, well … Well, yes. I would have enough funds to actually go to the grocery store and get PINK grapefruit instead of getting stuck with those pale yellow ones. (A very long story … )

I will not be so cruel as to try to target some areas of the country as having worse drivers than others (Nashville, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta…) but I will tell you that over the years I have learned an interesting parallel.

Driving in traffic with other vehicles is very similar to dating–at least, the way I remember dating, after all these years. (I do realize that “dating” may be an outdated concept. Young humans today have other names for everything, as well they should, but since most of them still know what a dinosaur is, I thought I would risk the term.)

Let me tell you where I see the similarities between driving a car on the road with other human beings and trying to make a connection of the loving sort:

1. It’s very important in driving. Don’t go too fast.As you can see, this also crosses over into the realm of interaction with one you are trying to impress and not scare away–because after all, the important thing to remember about not going too fast is that it’s very embarrassing to get stopped.

2. Don’t go too slow. Do you see it? If you don’t advance your intentions quickly enough in the realm of romance, you can leave the impression that you’re not interested, or worse yet, that you just want to be a friend. I’ve always found that if you’re driving along and bicycles are passing you, you might want to give it a little more gas.

3. Here’s a good one. Watch where you’re going. One of the classic turnoffs when accompanying someone on a date is to let your eyes rove and look at other cars (more stylish models), if you know what I mean. Very important. Keep your eyes on the prize.

4. Try to be sensitive to the wishes and inclinations of others around you. Here’s a clue. If someone has their turn signal on, they probably want to get into your lane. You CAN keep them out. You CAN forbid their desires, but you’re not only going to make them angry, you’re going to turn them into a sourpuss. I’ll let you draw your own parallels with dating on that one.

5. This is a very obvious one, but needs to be mentioned. Watch for the signals. Flashing lights. Hand gestures, even. Anything that lets you know the tendency and direction of those who are driving around you. It’s also a good idea to read the signs that come up along the way, warning you of danger ahead. Ahh! The great dance of romance–full of signals. Learn them all.

6. This is a very important one–don’t get sleepy. Most accidents occur because people get drowsy behind the wheel, lose their attention, doze off and fall off the road. Likewise, it’s an amazing thing that in the realm of interaction between the members of our species, that expressing boredom or weariness, followed by a yawn, normally does not take you to Kissy Lane.

7. Which leads to an all-important climax. Don’t be horny. Yes–people who use their horns all the time when they’re driving are the most obnoxious folks in the world, hands down. They would insist they’re just trying to help out or express their great yearnings and desires, but it comes across way too desperate, way too pushy and way too arrogant. I suppose I don’t need to tell you that the same thing applies when trying to get to know another person as a human being, and then all of a sudden, telegraphing that your intentions are purely biological.

No wonder we have so much trouble with driving–because it’s so much like dating, which drives a sane man crazy and takes a young debutante to the point of insanity. So it truly IS Driving Miss Crazy, and the more I understand that operating a car is very similar to maintaining the kind of hygiene, intelligence, respect, fortitude and manners that were necessary the first time I took out a pretty cheerleader, the more likely it is that I will probably be able to keep myself from crashing and burning–or from ending up in traffic court.

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