Friday, April 02, 2004

Roller Derby

Another sign of spring: road rage is beginning to surface, along with old tin cans and desiccated dog poo.
It's an interesting phenomenon, road rage; in my experience the sweetest, kindest, most lace-trimmed of little old ladies could take an Edsel full of the elderly for a spin along a country lane to look at the spring flowers, then turn the trip into 'Gone in Sixty Seconds' in less than a minute. Accompanied by language that would make a sailor blush (why sailors? why do they have such a bad rap as foulmouthed swine? The only sailor I ever knew was Popeye and even though he had anger management problems, the spinach-fueled sea-going lover of Olive Oyl never so much as emitted a hearty ‘Darn!’. Though possibly a ‘Dagnabbit!’ or two…) and probably flip you the bird for good measure.
Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
I myself experience just the teeniest, tiniest hint of frustration from time to time. Mind you, it’s nothing a loaded shotgun, or a pot of boiling tar and a bag of feathers couldn’t put right in a jiffy – just a little justifiable cyclone of anger at PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT TURN THEIR LEFT TURN SIGNAL ON UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. And just the barest hint of ire as PEOPLE PASSING ON THE RIGHT TRY TO SQUEEZE INTO MY LANE WHEN THEY COME UPON A PARKED CAR. WHO ARE THEY KIDDING? THEY KNEW THAT PARKED CAR WAS GOING TO BE THERE – WHY CAN’T THEY WAIT THEIR TURN IN THE SLOWER MOVING LEFT LANE LIKE THE REST OF US DECENT HUMAN BEINGS. THE RIGHT ONE IS EMPTY FOR A REASON BOZO escapes me as I navigate the highways and byways of downtown Toronto.
I mention this only as it has come as a genuine surprise to me that I am so easily roused to automobile-inspired anger. Honest. I might think bad little thoughts from time to time, but would normally no more scream earthy Anglo Saxonisms at complete strangers than I would sprinkle cayenne pepper on my cornflakes. It just isn’t me you see – until I’m strapped in behind the wheel, then it’s every man, woman and cartoon character for themselves.
Driving home last night – tail end of rush hour, idiots jockeying for position around me like centipedes at a shoe sale – an image from an old movie came to mind (I’m embarrassed to admit how old a movie, but what the heck – I could have caught it on video) that crystallized the entire situation for me in a split second: Kansas City Bomber! (Tagline: "The hottest thing on wheels!")
Kansas City Bomber – as crummy a movie as ever unspooled at a theatre near you. A Raquel Welch vehicle, that surpassed even ‘Mother, Jugs and Speed’ (guess who played Juggs? Come on – guess!) for outright kamp klassic krap. But it was the roller derby that sprang to mind as I played 'four stop sign chicken' with a hesitant Toyota. (Ya snooze, ya lose buddy.) And Kansas City Bomber despite its seedy 70’s sensibility, was for all of that a pretty good action movie, presenting the wrestling-style realities of the game, if not Oscar winning performances.
There’d be teams of roller skaters whizzing around the track with the goal of getting their team mates around faster than the other team’s players. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what they were doing… Anyway, they’d use all sorts of individual tricks and techniques to pass their opponents – banking high on the side of the curved track to pass, body-checking their adversaries, maybe even skating between their legs - but every now and then they’d perform some sort of specially planned maneuver that would slingshot one of their teammates past the opposition, like a spitball on wheels. ZING! WHEEE! They didn’t high-five in those days, but if they had’ve, they would’ve.
So here’s my thinking – what if we kind of did that on the road? Good drivers – like you and me – teaming up to tag team the bad drivers? Boxing in a troublemaker, whilst one of our own zooms past in a puff of triumphant exhaust. Man that’d be fun! We could mark our cars to distinguish ourselves – paint ‘em metallic purple, or perhaps more subtly, hang a little pair of roller skates to swing from the rearview, identifying us to each other in the automobile version of Bloods and Crips. (Sharks and Jets for all you squares.)
I’m serious! Think about it – study the masters: Vin Diesel, Burt Reynolds – My Mother the Car. Tell your friends, your co-workers, the little old ladies you meet on the street
We’ll give this town a driving lesson they’ll never forget.

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