Tuesday, March 23, 2004

My Inner Doublewide

the eisenhower expressway (with the sears tower in the distance)Is it a highway or is it a parking lot? At 7:30am, the Eisenhower is most definitely the latter. Cars and trucks sit side-by-side, occasionally inching forward, laboriously, like caterpillars. Windows are shut against the unseasonably cold March weather. The sun is my line of sight; bright and low, making my eyes squint and disappear into slanted thin lines, like an Asian caricature. Inside the car—my trusty Helen—I am yelling at the man on the radio.

The man, “Charles,” had called into the Drex Morning Radio Show talking about how he had banned his daughter from playing basketball because she’ll become a lesbian. He claimed that women in sports, particularly the WNBA, are lesbians. The man spoke deliberately, calmly articulating his position. Drex, knowing a good subject when he sees it, abandoned the previous topic of “My Kids are Making My Life Hell” and let the man hold court.

Immediately, the phone banks are full, with people waiting up to twenty minutes to get on the air to respond.

Female caller: I played sports in college, basketball, soccer. I like keeping myself fit and healthy. I have a husband and a daughter. I’m not a lesbian—

Charles: It doesn’t mean you’re not a lesbian. A lot of gay people are married and have children, trying to hide themselves. I think you need to think about yourself... (incoherent screaming)

Affronted by the man, I found myself dialing the number to the show.

The lines were busy, thank God. The anonymity of radio spurs otherwise respectable and sane people to descend to the level of a Jerry Springer audience. Relatively respectable and educated people routinely call and become the equivalent of the guy standing up in the audience to diss the “Overweight Stripper Who Stole My Man.” I normally cringe at the humiliation of people that passes for entertainment these days. Shows where people will air their dirty laundry for the price of a plane ticket and weekend hotel accommodations, where people get in line to be rudely Dismissed, where a t-shirt can get girls doggone wild.

Maybe it’s the boredom of the drive to work that makes people do things. Yes, in boredom I have done things that I normally wouldn’t do elsewhere, like pick my nose. I am not apologizing—you’ve done it too, I’ve seen you! Truckers, mothers, suits or sandals, young and old; I’ve seen you dig for that sweet buried treasure and flick it away with satisfaction!

Or maybe deep down, with my penchant for potted meat and White Castle hamburgers, I really belong in that trailer park. Maybe despite my urbane veneer, it only takes a radio show and long boring drive to work to bring out my inner doublewide.

Does this sound like you? Call me now at 1-800-MILKLESS.