No Exit, Right This Way

Post-Its

“Feed the cats.” “Scoop the litter box.”

This is not rocket science. It is barely any kind of science. (Zoology, maybe, if you squint.)

So as my wife and I planned to go out of a town for a couple days, it didn’t seem unreasonable to ask our friend Vicki to come over once a day and do feline-maintenance duty.

This being New England, however, it turned out to be a tangle of complications.

Problem #1: guiding Vicki through the house to find the cats, the cat food, the litter box, and the compost bin where that disgusting used litter winds up.

Not easy.

Our house is 202 years old, except for the parts that are 222 years old. It seems Mr. Timothy Morse Jr. built a more or less normal Federal-style two-over-two house in 1817, and then decided to drag a 1797 barn from somewhere over near Rowley and attach it to the back of the house. Then someone — either Morse or a subsequent owner — decided to cut up the 1797 part of the house into two floors and various rooms and innumerable twists, turns, nooks, crannies, and whatever you call spaces that are even smaller than a cranny.

It would have been complicated enough under normal circumstances, but then, as we prepared to leave town, things got complicateder. Our water heater decided it had labored long enough — I believe it may have been the oldest continuously operating water heater in America — and it died a cruel death. So we arranged with some trusty professionals to come in and replace it. They would do the work while we were gone.

Our cats are of the indoor-only variety, and the workers would be coming and going through a variety of doors, so we had to isolate the cats by closing them into the downstairs guestroom and the stairwell to the second floor. This meant Vicki would have to come through the back door, close it behind her, choose the correct door to exit the mudroom, turn left in the kitchen, take the cat food out of the pantry, locate the passageway that leads toward the guestroom but doesn’t quite get you all the way there, choose the correct door (No! Not that door!), and navigate a sharp right through a dark nook (or is it a cranny?) through the door into the guestroom.

And there’s no turning back, after this point — I mean literally, because the door to the guestroom locks behind you, for lack of a latch on the opposite side. (Geez, I keep meaning to fix that.) So you feed the cats in the guestroom, and scoop the litter box, then leave (with the little paper sack of gross stuff) through the other guestroom door, which is the only way out, but which is almost impossible to open because it sticks, so you have to pound with your fist at a certain place on the door, and if it opens, you find yourself in the entryway of the 1817 part of the house, where you go through another door into the living room, and please be sure to close it behind you, and then cross diagonally to the passageway that leads you back into the kitchen, but on the opposite side from where you came in. And you’re not anywhere close to the compost bin yet.

Good luck.

There was no good way to explain it all — a fact which I have just now demonstrated — but my wife has spent four years as a tour guide at the Crane Estate, so she knew just what to do. She reverted to that sure-fire failsafe mistake-proof apparatus deployed by generations of pioneers: Post-It Notes.

When Vicki arrived, she found Post-It Notes on various walls and doors, with directions indicated in both words and arrows: “to cats” (arrow pointing straight ahead), “to cats” (arrow pointing left), “the way out,” “fist here” (X marks the spot), “other way out” (with not one but two arrows, one to the right, one turning the corner), “to compost” (bent arrow starting straight but veering left), and as a bonus, “recycling” (arrow pointing straight down).

We returned, after a total of about 72 hours, to find Vicki huddled in a corner, emaciated and quivering, nibbling Meow Mix. The cats were lounging on the guest bed, chewing gum and snickering.

The friendship is over, but the new water heater is working just fine.

 

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Doug Brendel lives mostly in the 1817 part of his house on outer Linebrook Road. You can usually find him at (arrow pointing straight ahead) (bent arrow starting straight but veering left) (X marks the spot). To follow him more easily, click “Follow” here at Outsidah.com — and check out his even simpler blog at ComplicatedEnglish.com.

 

Chateau de seared rack of lobster, please — and hold the popcorn

This is why we can’t have nice things. Can’t go to fancy places. Can’t live an elegant, high-class life, even secretly using a 20%-off coupon.

This is why the Brendels are doomed to be ordinary people.

Because even on that rare occasion when we’re gathered in a superb high-end restaurant, enjoying the exquisite cloth-napkin ambience, and the unctuous attention of the servers — multiple servers, not just one! — we can’t restrain ourselves from descending into an unseemly family argument over the most mundane and inane of topics.

Like popcorn.

I’ll tell you, reluctantly, how it happened, and then you can judge for yourself.

Our actor-daughter Lydia Charlotte (who arrived in Ipswich as a “rising second-grader”) just finished an intensive summer college program, for which she earned her first three college credit-hours, plus an award for stage combat. (Do not mess with her, or she will fake kill you.) To celebrate her triumph, we took her to a painfully expensive restaurant in Boston’s newly trendy Seaport neighborhood. (Yes, I had a 20%-off coupon.)

Now comes the hostess, seating us.

Now, verily, the busser, delivering designer water.

Now, very soon thereafter, the server, inquiring as to what beverage each of us might like to imbibe.

The drinks, the appetizers, the main course, the utter finery of it all. Dahling, it’s perfectly exquisite!

But we couldn’t quite make it through the entrée.

If the swarms of staff had cleared our plates and moved us on to dessert just a few minutes earlier, we might have avoided the ridiculous row. But no.

There we sat, the last few bites of our Atlantic cod and 8-oz. filet with butter-poached lobster tail languishing on our Priya china with lovely roses featured on swirls of white and gold porcelain. We were chattering about the usual meaningless stuff of our lives — that smell in the car, those spiders in the pantry, the inconvenience of that rainstorm. And then the conversation turned to that deadliest and most dangerous of topics.

Popcorn.

Not just popcorn. I mean: how to salt the popcorn.

I was trying — I was really trying, as the head of the family, to keep a lid on things — I wanted the Brendels to make a good impression on Boston’s ultra-elite restaurant scene. But before I knew it, it was out of control.

It turns out that, if you’re a Brendel, one of the most important things in the entire universe is how and when you salt the popcorn.

So if this subject somehow comes up during dinner — regardless of whether you’re consuming aragawa-style imported wagyu strip loin or a Dairy Queen burger — you have to fight it out, and fight to the death.

Here’s a bowl of popcorn. Do you salt it and then head to the TV room? (These are First World problems. How many people on the planet have a TV room?) Or do you salt it, and then shake it— SHAKE IT: THIS IS THE CRITICAL DETAIL — and then salt it again?

It seems obvious to me, a person with an Associates of Arts degree from a university in Missouri, that you absolutely have to shake it and then salt it again. Otherwise, the salt doesn’t get down to the popcorn that started out under the surfacewhen you began this process. This way — SHAKING IT — you get salt to the rest of the popcorn in the bowl.

But of course, there are those other folks — who apparently don’t have the benefit of an Associates of Arts degree from a university in Missouri — who cling to the delusional view that the salt only sticks to the pieces of popcorn that happen to be scattered across the top of that little popcorn mountain in your popcorn bowl. These folks (the paranoids, I would say) imagine that if you shake the bowl, all the salt you already distributed bounces straight to the bottom of the bowl, where it does you no good.

And this debate is complicated even further if someone at the table takes a fresh bowl of popcorn and sprinkles soy sauce over it (as I do, because some demented person 25 years ago suggested it, and I liked it). Salt clings to soy sauce. You sauce it, you salt it, you shake it. You sauce it again, you salt it again, you shake it again. Popcorn is elementary, my dear Watson.

I hate it when my wife sounds like she knows it all. She is so ignorant about popcorn, I’m tellin’ ya.

And what does a 17-year-old know about life? Especially about popcorn.

But of course, it’s embarrassing when you’re having this argument over a fancy dinner, and the maitre d’ comes over to make sure you’re okay. I was afraid for a moment that my daughter was going to fake kill me.

So, yeah. This is where my life winds up.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

 

 

Doug Brendel does better when he says at home on outer Linebrook Road, and scrounges from the cupboard and the fridge. Follow him here, at Outsidah.com, by clicking the “Follow” button — and for more punishment, follow him at ComplicatedEnglish.com, where he has the audacity to comment on other people’s writing every single day.

 

Grab and Go — to Jail

I know you were alarmed, when you got the news, but I’m here to put your mind at ease.

There is hope. There is a way forward. Do not despair.

Life as we know it on the North Shore is not at an end, and Ipswich residents in particular — even though they may be feeling hopeless at the moment — actually still have a future.

I’m talking about the new rules handed down by the Ipswich Select Board about parking in the Town of Ipswich.

You will survive, I’m sure; but your future will need to be adjusted on two significant fronts.

#1: At the Ipswich MBTA lot, parking will now be available 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for Ipswich residents only.

You Ipswich folks think this is good news? I’m afraid not. This means war. Or it could. Let me explain.

The Ipswich train station parking lot is not your ordinary parking lot. It is one of the very few Town-owned commuter rail parking lot in the MBTA system. Most North Shore train station parking lots are owned by the MBTA. But in Ipswich, the lot is owned and operated by the Town.

So the fact that anybody and everybody has been free to park in the Ipswich train station lot free of charge all these years is only due to the largesse — let’s not call it negligence, let’s call it generosity — of the Town of Ipswich.

While the MBTA has charged for parking in other towns — as much as $4 per weekday (Newburyport, Hamilton) or $2 per weekday (in Rowley) — Ipswich has continued to give away its prime parking real estate.

Since as many as 30 of the 100 Ipswich station parking spaces have typically been taken by non-Ipswich residents each weekday, it appears that the new rules will help Ipswich folks enormously.

Unfortunately, however, this also brings us to the very real possibility of neighboring towns responding with “revenge rules” (kind of like other countries introducing anti-American tariffs because our President introduced anti-other-country tariffs).

So what happens if Rowley, for example, starts charging Ipswich residents $4 to park at Market Basket? If you’re only dropping in to buy a bag of ice and a can of sardines, your grocery bill just tripled. If Boxford sets up toll booths and makes me pay a dollar just to get over to Georgetown, I’m gonna run up quite a bill.

But the Ipswich train station parking lot is the not the only site affected by the rules newly handed down by the Ipswich Select Board.

Here’s #2: A “two-hour parking restriction” beside the bank on Depot Square.

I’m uneasy about being forced to park for a minimum of two hours, aren’t you?

I don’t think I’ve misunderstood this. As TheLocalNe.ws report confirms, two-hour parking is being enforced.

Look at how this is going to impact your daily life. Let’s say you want a lox and bagel at Jettie’s. You find a prime parking space across the street — beside the bank, on Depot Square. You go in, you order, you chat with some friends, you get your food, you eat, enjoy your coffee, chat with some more friends — but then you’re done, right? It’s maybe 45 minutes, max. There’s no way you can spend two hours at Jettie’s. (If you spend two hours at Jettie’s, you’re using it as an office, and you ought to be down Market Street at Gathr. Come on. Stop taking unfair advantage of a bagel place.)

But as I understand the Ipswich Select Board, if you don’t spend two hours at Jettie’s, as you drive away you’ll be pulled over by the Ipswich police.

I’m telling you, this is serious. Minimum-parking-time rules are a slippery slope. What’s next? Minimum-spending rules? You park on the south side of Depot Square in Ipswich, you have to spend at least $20 in Market Street businesses or go to prison.

And if Ipswich enforces this two-hour parking rule, how could you blame Rowley for exacting revenge by requiring you to spend at least two hours parked at Market Basket? I happen to see a lot of my friends at Market Basket, but I don’t think even a social animal like me could do two hours. Under such an oppressive law, I would have to leave my car at Market Basket and hike to the bar at Spud’s. Depending on the time of day, who knows what a disaster this could turn out to be?

I’m afraid we’re at a fragile moment in North Shore history. I pray that cooler heads will prevail. I pray that surrounding towns will not pass revenge laws against Ipswich. I pray that I will be able to park at Market Basket free of charge, and leave whenever I want.

Amen.

 

 

Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, where he charges guests $4 to park on his driveway. Follow him here at Outsidah.com, and sign up for daily emails at ComplicatedEnglish.com.

 

Goats Solve Everything

My friend has a problem.

For generations, her family has owned one of those little islands you see when you look out there. You know, out there. Those Ipswich islands? One of those is hers.

It sounds elegant, sophisticated, even millionairish to own an island, but the truth is more complicated.

Because of the island’s location — in that ultra-protected zone where the land oozes into marsh and the marsh morphs into ocean — my friend has been absolutely prohibited from erecting any structure on the island.

So she’s paying property taxes on a completely unusable island.

Options?

Maybe a “glamping” tent — you know, one of those huge luxury pop-ups with all the comforts of home. It’s big, it’s waterproof, with mosquito-net windows and doors, even a watertight floor. You add a nice rug, some bean-baggy cushions, a table, some LED lamps, maybe even a chandelier — voilà! Chez Atlantique.

Only one little problem: The island is absolutely covered in poison ivy.

This, however, is, I think, one of those magical moments when it actually helpsto be an “outsidah” like me — someone relatively new to Ipswich and the Cape Ann area — someone who spent three decades in the Midwest and then a quarter-century in the Arizona desert before moving here. Sometimes you need someone without centuries of New England customs and assumptions baked into his brain. Someone who can think outside the ZBA, and bring fresh, maybe even shocking new perspectives to practical problems.

The first suggestion I made to my island-owner friend was very simple: GOATS. Put goats on the island, to eat the poison ivy. As any of the now-popular goat-rental businesses will tell you, goats will eat anything, but probably most important to you, if you have poison ivy on your property, is that they eat poison ivy. (To them, I guess, it’s like low-grade jalapeño. A special treat, if you’re in the mood for Mexican food.) You can rent a goat, or goats, for some number of days, tether them to a stake in the middle of your poison ivy patch, and within a few days, you’re delighted to find that your property-value kryptonite has disappeared.

Of course, my friend’s island has the disadvantage of being an island. Which means it’s surrounded by water. If goats were seals, no problem. They could swim to the island and start chowing down. But because goats have legs and hooves instead of those funky webbed flippers, they’ll need to be transported to your island. Which leads to my second brilliant idea: BOATS FOR GOATS. This could be a money-making enterprise for anyone who owns a boat. Your potential customer base includes everyone in the world who owns an island overrun by poison ivy.

My friend remained unconvinced. She reminded me that tides come and go, and her island can be nearly submerged at high tide. As the ocean rises, a tethered goat will be a sitting duck — well, not literally a sitting duck, because ducks float, but you get the idea. A tethered goat in the midst of a rising sea would be in serious trouble.

I was undeterred. Such challenges only inspire new sparks of genius. I countered with another brilliant innovation: FLOATS FOR GOATS. Cute little water wings that strap on around the animal, with a springy elastic tether to keep the goat safely connected to the island yet capable of breathing oxygen even on astronomical-high-tide days. Casually drifting on the surface of the Atlantic on a sunny summer day will hardly feel like an inconvenience to a hard-working goat. I think after word gets out, goats will actually vie for astronomical-high-tide duty.

And when the weather turns ugly: RAINCOATS FOR GOATS.

See? Every problem has a solution.

 

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Live and Let Roast

“No lives were lost.”

A wise New Englander once told me that this is the New England way of gauging whether you should be retroactively upset about an event, and then, of course, deciding, “Eh, no.”

Speaking of which: The Great House on Castle Hill was closed this past Saturday because of the heat wave — an extraordinary move by The Trustees, who own and operate the Crane Estate, and make, I assume, truckloads of money on house tours. My wife Kristina was a costumed tour guide there for four years, and our daughter Lydia Charlotte has now followed in her footsteps, and I can tell you from my vantage point of personal observation that those costumes are multi-layered and not designed for survival in a 95-degree heat wave. So I think The Trustees made a good call. The calculation probably ended up like this: Thousands of bucks made, from tours? Or millions of bucks lost, in a wrongful-death lawsuit? Plus, just imagine the bad press: a chambermaid in her black 1929-era uniform, sprawled prostrate on the imported parquet flooring of the Great House lobby, with EMTs trying to revive her, and John Muldoon of NorthShoreLocalNews.com flitting about, snapping photographs.

But yes, it’s true. In the end, no lives were lost. (Unless somebody died of heatstroke on Crane Beach since this was posted, and now you’re sitting there reading this on your device and saying to yourself, “Of all the impertinence!”) It was, however, quite hot.

It was so hot, I saw a squirrel in our backyard negotiating with a blue jay for time in the birdbath.

It was so hot, the wrinkles in my skin smoothed out.

It was so hot, I took a tall glass of iced coffee out onto our screen porch, then went inside to go the bathroom, and when I returned, it was espresso.

It was so hot, the National Belligerence Review downgraded the Ipswich Watchdogs Facebook page to “mild.”

It was so hot, asphalt melted, and a number of North Shore potholes filled in on their own.

It was so hot, there was a clambake on Crane Beach without anyone lighting a fire. Clams were seen on the Rowley flats opening tiny umbrellas and guzzling thimbles full of beer. (Those should be really yummy clams, once the red tide has passed.)

It was so hot, George Blanchette reportedly offered frozen bagel cubes at Jettie’s in Ipswich as a lifesaving measure — which actually worked great in the coffee, and may set off a whole new iced-bagel-coffee craze. Stay tuned.

It was so hot, my mailman wore Kevlar gloves just to open my mailbox.

It was so hot, a beaver on the Ipswich River ordered a mini-fridge from Amazon, and when it arrived, he climbed inside.

It was so hot, ICE raids were suspended because government agents ran out of margaritas.

It was so hot, relatives in the Deep South texted their sympathies to family members living on the North Shore. (There were numerous misspellings, but not because of heat-related delirium.)

It was so hot, my neighbor filled her fire pit with ice cubes and suffered a head injury trying to dive in.

It was so hot, a number of my private demons returned to hell for respite.

It was so hot, the blue jay got a hundred dollars from the squirrel. There is nothing more disturbing than seeing a squirrel kicking back in your bird feeder drinking a margarita and wearing a MAGA hat.

It was so hot, enormous quantities of Down River ice cream in both the Rowley and Essex locations melted and flowed across the Ipswich line, which led to riots on Route 1 and 1A, and a number of medical emergencies, mostly Ipswich residents shocked to find their tongues glued to the pavement.

It was so hot, an enterprising monarch butterfly began selling milkweed shakes.

It was so hot, solar panels were steaming, triggering a number of calls to 911 from people who thought the North Shore was on fire, which it was, sort of, just without flames.

It was so hot, a runaway French poodle from Topsfield showed up at a barber shop pleading for a crew cut.

It was so hot, someone jogged naked through Willowdale State Forest, and instead of being arrested, they got a medal from the National Institutes of Health, even though they had no where to pin it.

Shocking, yes, perhaps. But what does it really matter? No lives were lost.

 

_____

Doug Brendel lives next door to a cemetery on outer Linebrook Road, so if the heat kills him, he won’t have far to go. Follow him while he survives, daily at ComplicatedEnglish.com and weekly or so here at Outsidah.com. (In Doug’s other life, he’s trying to help hearing-impaired kids in the former Soviet Union. Please check out his project at NewThing.net.)

 

Any Way You Want It

I attended the first Thursday evening concert at Castle Hill in Ipswich this past Thursday, and it was a nightmare, I tell you, an absolute nightmare.

Everybody kept coming up to me and telling me I was wrong, and my wife was right.

Doesn’t this sound like a bad dream to you?

In the natural world, everything was great. This was the 2019 kickoff concert for the Trustees’ annual Crane Estate summer series, originally conceived 22 years ago by the remarkable Trina Schell. Trina has coordinated the concerts all these years, but this year, she’s handing off management of the concerts for the first time, and in spite of unexpectedly huge crowds, Thursday night went smoothly. No fisticuffs that I saw, no children lost without eventually being found, no staggering drunken speeches by partisan attendees mistaking Allée statues for political opponents. Just loads of old Journey hits and other music from that era.

The Great Escape, a Journey tribute band, was enormously entertaining. They had plenty of folks on their feet, dancing or (as in my case) attempting to dance. My wife has always been an awesome dancer, so if I get up on a dance floor, it’s mainly to watch her, and keep my eye on the other guys watching her.

Also, there was the usual array of yummy food and beverage options. I indulged in a massive carne burrito, which pleased me enormously, and made me enormous. I carried water in, in an environment-friendly reusable bottle, which had the additional advantage of enabling me to avoid the line for wine, which at times stretched to Rhode Island.

The evening might have been lower key. The weather was supposed to be off-and-on rainy. And not everyone is a Journey fan. You might expect the concert series to start small each summer, and build toward the ever-popular Beatles tribute band HELP! on August 22 and the wrap-up concert with the beloved Orville Giddings and his band on August 29. But the hill was crawling with people — from smiling seniors stepping gingerly to children racing and shrieking with joy. We got there by 7:30 for the 7 p.m. event and had to park in the overflow lot at Steep Hill. By the time we hauled ourselves and our camp chairs up the Allée to the “No drinking beyond this point” rope at the front of the lawn, we had to rest up before dancing.

Everyone seemed to be in a rollicking mood. It’s hard to be grumpy when a band is blasting “Any Way You Want It.” Even when I was being accosted, my assailants were usually bright-eyed and cheerful. It seemed every fourth or fifth person at the concert had to come stand over my camp chair — or stop me on my way to the burrito trailer — or grab me in the middle of the dance floor — and tell me how wrong I was, and how right my wife was. Everyone, it seemed, had seen my “Outsidah” column in the Chronicle & Transcriptthat morning, talking about the confusion at Lord’s Square when vehicles compete to pull out from Linebrook Road and Liberty Street at the same time. I wrote that my wife Kristina feels the person on the right (which is to say, on Liberty) has the right of way. I insisted that the Linebrook driver is already on Route 133 by the time he arrives at Liberty (though only a few feet away), so the guy on the major thoroughfare has the right of way. I had already been bombarded with “no” votes online (you can see them for yourself at Outsidah.com). But now, at the concert, it was the world’s opportunity to get in my face.

Nobody was buying my point of view, and everybody felt the need to tell me so. And it became clear, over the course of the evening, that this wasn’t just about traffic. This was about love. The over-arching message was not simply “Doug, you are a wrong-headed, insensitive driver, and possibly dangerous.” There was also a sub-current of “Doug, you married well, and you don’t deserve her.”

This part, I must admit, may be true. She could have married a smarter driver. And she absolutely could have married a better dancer.

 

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Doug Brendel practices his moves at his home on outer Linebrook Road. Follow him daily at ComplicatedEnglish.com, and occasionally at Outsidah.com.

 

Till Death Do Us Pull Out

My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week by having an argument about Ipswich traffic.

I now submit to you both sides of the debate, and invite you to cast your vote in favor of my viewpoint. Or otherwise, if you must.

Here’s the scenario:

Two vehicles arrive simultaneously at that awful little wedge of Ipswich where Lord’s Square becomes Central Street. Forget for a moment that people driving east on High Street have suddenly found themselves in a spider web of exits and entrances which must be navigated before they can get to Central. The two vehicles we’re having this fight about, on our 32nd anniversary, have arrived at the only two stop signs on the south side of Lord’s Square: the one where you’re trying to get off of Linebrook Road, and the one where you’re trying to get off of Liberty Street.

Ignore, for the time being, the question of whether either vehicle wants to go (a) left toward High Street or (b) across onto Short Street or (c) right to Central. All we know, for the purposes of this marriage-threatening conversation, is that both vehicles have arrived at the same moment.

So now, both drivers crane their necks to peer northward, hoping for a break in High Street traffic, and then swivel their skulls like owls to see how many cars are coming up from Central Street. You’re either a crane or an owl at this intersection.

Now comes that magical moment, when a gap appears. OMG, there’s a two-car length of empty space behind the guy in that Toyota SUV, and nobody happens to be lurching out of Dunkin’ Donuts. And look! There’s a break in the flow from Central Street — thank heaven for that impertinent Kia Soul driver inching out into the roadway and then losing her nerve — yes, sorry, it’s a woman. (Not a sexist bias, I just report it the way it happens.)

And here, finally, is the great question: Who should dive into that gap?

Who has the right of way? The Linebrook Road driver? Or the Liberty Street driver?

  • You might consider the universally accepted protocol that the vehicle on the bigger, more important roadway has the right of way over the vehicle on the smaller, less important roadway. (Think Argilla Road matron trying to get out onto County at 5 p.m.) Which means the Linebrook Road driver should gun it.
  • Or, you might consider another practice generally recognized at intersections governed by stop signs: When two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right goes before the vehicle on the left. (Remember, this is America. Whoever’s furthest to the right gets to make the rules.)

So, at the tangled knot that we call Lord’s Square, who wins? Left or right? Linebrook or Liberty?

My lovely wife has been driving for 43 years. Not continuously, of course. But driving a lot, anyway, ever since Gerald Ford was president. And it should be noted, in all fairness, she has never, to my knowledge, had a traffic accident.

I, on the other hand, have been driving since Nixon’s first term. And I have had plenty of traffic accidents. Some were even my fault. In recent years, however, I would like to point out, my record has somewhat improved. I have learned, for example, to slow down while approaching the Our Lady of Hope parking lot, where the cop cars lurk.

  • My wife says that the ludicrous Lord’s/Linebrook/Liberty mash-up is an awful mess, but it does somehow, ludicrously, qualify as an intersection, so the idea that the vehicle on the right has the right of way is appropriate. Ludicrously.
  • I, on the other hand, say that once you pull out past the stop sign, you’re essentially on Central Street already — which is both 133 and1A — so the poor shmuck trying to get off of Liberty Street is just a hapless wretch trying to get from a tiny, insignificant side street onto a major thoroughfare, and let him keep trying.

I certainly don’t want to influence your vote. But sad to say, after more than three decades looking at the same person across the breakfast table, it can come down to a moment like this. So if I don’t win this vote, I may need to rent a room from you.

Kindly cast your ballot by emailing IpswichTrafficLove@DougBrendel.com. The marriage you save may be my own.

 

 

Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road, for the time being. Follow him at Outsidah.com. You’re also invited to check out his humorous new daily blog, ComplicatedEnglish.com.