11.17.2004

Cars, Shoes, and Hair-

In my mind these may well be three of the most forward ways for an individual to express their personal interests and perhaps their personality. People will buy shoes and cars to try either live a certain lifestyle or to be linked to a certain lifestyle. Runners are not the only ones wearing running shoes and very infrequently does your average soccer mom need four wheel drive. Hair is a topic I have less of an opinion on, as I have none. But, when meeting someone it seems to be that one of the first things we look at is the hairstyle that this person has chosen. Then we ask ourselves, what does this hairstyle say about them; conventional, non-conformist, slob, hipster, athlete, headbanger, etc.

(eye glasses also fit in there, but only a small percentage of people wear them, but those that do....I bet they struggle to select the frames that suit their inner being the best)

((facial hair also fits into this outward expression of who we are and how we want others to perceive us, but this blog is already headed in too many directions to cover all ideas...and I do not want to get into how the frat boy has ruined the goat-tee and these fashions that were made fun of my so many are now worn by those that were asking 5-10 years ago...."what is that on your face?"))

With the shoes and cars it is clear when we look at the potential functionality of each as well as the advertising campaign of each. Although we may live in the city or the suburbs we still buy these products that may be catering to what appear to be the needs of someone living in the mountains, the country, or even the wilderness. We cling to that identity and we make an effort to let that idea become part of our own personal identity.

The car is an expensive purchase, other than a house it is the single most expensive product purchase that a person can make. As much as people would not like to agree, the car is an extension of its owner. There are certain cars that express this more obviously than others....Jeeps being number one on my the list of car owners seeking a perceived identity. Seems that the Jeep (CJ series) owner is always on their way to a SUNKIST commercial, no matter what season. The driver of this vehicle has forsaken comfort for fashion. The short wheel base makes a rocky uncomfortable ride, the soft top is loud at high speed and cold in the winter, they are far from fuel efficient, yet Jeep owners love their Jeeps. Why? Because they feel a certain way when they drive them!

In the mid-70s the Camero had a certain identity. In my mind it was all CHEESE. But to the owner of a Camero this car was IT! The car was fast and powerful and had lines that were appealing to the purchaser. In my mind the BMW is the Camero of the modern day. It is a fast performance car, the driver's tend to feel that they are empowered behind the wheel. As I ride my bike around the city each day I access all the driver's around me and try to anticipate their behaviors, all in an effort to arrive alive. Different license plates portray different identities, DC Paper Tags being the most dangerous in the list, then each state having its own driving style. Then ethnicity and sex of the driver is also taken into account and of course.....the make, model, and condition of the car.



Each day I am passed fast and close by an assortment of drivers, many drivers tailgate me in an effort to force me aside so that they can be closer to the bumper in front of them.

This am I did that short cross town commute, not the fun one, but the short one....it is a 15-20 minute urban commute, through neighborhoods along what is the commuter route of many suburban residents headed to their downtown offices. It is a risky ride each and everyday. This morning as I headed down Conneticut Avenue towards Dupont Circle I was being tailgated by a car, more specifically a BMW. I was moving at a healthy clip, but not so fast as I was on the single speed, yet going fast enough downhill that I was going faster than traffic, and forced to slow to keep a safe distance between me and the car in front of me. While going down hill I could feel the rev of the engine behind me, it was not immediately behind me, but closer than I felt comfortable with. The far right lane is filled with parked cars, the next lane over was blocked by Metro buses and various cars and trucks double parking to load and unload, so the middle lane was the most sensible lane for me to travel in at this point in time. When I saw fit I moved over allowing the car driver to pass, they immediately were stuck in a line of cars stopped at a light. I stopped along side of the car....

He was good enough to open his window for a little pre-work exchange. He started by turning his car slightly in my direction and revving his engine. Then he rolled down his window and asked, "what is your problem?" I responded, "I was wondering what your problem was...you were tailgating me all the way down the road." He quickly spits back at me, "you were taking the whole middle lane!" Without pause, while maintaining my cool, "it was clear that the right lane was blocked with the metro bus and the vans loading and unloading!"

then things went sour

that answer was not good enough for him
he said something non-sensical and personal
maybe with more revving of the engine

I made some unrelated comment about him voting for Bush and contributing to the demise of our country and that he and his boyfriend were total losers.....then he told me that my "animal friend" and I were losers....I was not sure if he meant Kerry or was implying that I was into beastiality

either way
I had lost my cool!
my effort to open his eyes to my rights on the bike were lost when I got personal
but
it is tough for a person with lycra protecting their fragile body to keep their wits about them as their advisary is pointing a very large heavy metal object at their person, in this case a very fast one with air bags and crumple resistant side panels.




oh
forgot to mention my parting words....
simply looked him in the eyes and said.....
"I am more highly evolved than you."

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