Welcome to the spruced-up and modernized "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm your host, Anne Johnson -- it's not even a pen name. It's a measure of anonymity in the age of 15-minute fame.
One blessing I have received multiple times in this life is the gift or purchase of a splendid car at a bargain price (or for free). My grandfather gave me his glittering Oldsmobile when he could no longer drive. When that wore out, I bought a Ford Escort hatchback from a church lady who had used that car so lightly it was just begging to be driven. More recently, my mother-in-law gave me her car, a dubiously road-worthy relic that reluctantly creeps from Point A to Point B.
In the great state of New Jersey, we must get our vehicles inspected every two years. The relic (I affectionately call this vehicle "The Bucket") was up for inspection last month. The only thing they inspect in NJ anymore is emissions, and the "check engine" light had been on in this car since Mother-in-law purchased it in 2005. For the record, it's a 2001 Saturn. Vintage!
The mechanic said he would fix an emission sensor that might be the problem, and if we drove the car 100 miles without the light coming on, it would pass inspection. Voila! Done! In fact, I've now tootled 200 miles, and the light has not returned!
That's a big deal. The car was free. And the insurance is cheap, since the only thing I would pay for is damage I did to someone else's car.
To celebrate the Rite of Inspection Passage, I took some time this afternoon to clean out The Bucket and spruce her up a bit. While I was doing so, my next door neighbor pulled up in front of his house, showing off his new bumper sticker because he knew I would be jealous as fuck. And I was. He felt so sorry for me that he went inside and brought out an identical bumper sticker for my Bucket!
Even in New Jersey I'm courting slashed tires. No matter. I believe in putting my views out there to be scorned or embraced.
My neighbor and I inevitably began talking about these tense weeks since the Orange Menace assumed office. He said he couldn't remember any time like this in his life, and -- since he's younger than me -- I agreed that it was the worst in his time.
However, I do remember something worse. It was an awful time.
I remember when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and the cities erupted in rioting. I was still a kid, maybe about 10 years old. I remember how scared everyone was. I grew up south of the Mason Dixon basically, so I was surrounded by white people who thought black people were just biding time until they could unleash fury on the very fabric of society. So everyone around me was scared.
It was an extremely tense time. There were soldiers on the move, and curfews, and martial law, and other stuff that sounds extremely frightening to a kid. This went on for a few weeks, and then life resumed a tense state of near normal.
Yes, I can foresee similar behavior on the horizon, but this time I don't think it will emanate from the ghettos in the big cities. This time I think it will start in the country and move toward more populous areas. It's scary to contemplate. A lot of people have guns. Remember what I said about guns: production for use. It's easy to imagine many, many itchy trigger fingers out there in the hinterland right now. All they need is a word or two of encouragement from someone who feels he isn't being given enough respect.
Nevertheless, my car identifies me as a member of the resistance. If it goes ill for me, well, who wants to be the last one standing when the world goes to Hell? I cede the future to my daughters. I'm scared as all get-out, but someone has to go down with the ship. Hope it's not me, but oh well.
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