I blame my innate tendency toward road rage on Adam and Eve and concupiscence, but the outward expression thereof on my ex-boyfriend Max*. Being of Mediterranean descent, Max was gifted in expressing his emotions outwardly–with ample volume and accompanying gestures. This came in handy when he was driving and was convinced that other motorists might not hear him through the windshield and over the roaring lanes of traffic that they had just cut across or were blocking.
I quickly learned to cover my ears as Max waved his one finger traffic signal, while he deftly maneuvered both the steering wheel and horn at the same time. My vocabulary increased if not improved, while my tolerance for all of the other [insert synonym for children of unmarried parents] drivers out there decreased.
Then Max converted to Christianity, and to signal his new found faith eventually put one of those little fish magnets on the back of his car.
He started to go to Mass on Sunday (and even occasionally during the week) and would hold the door open for little old ladies. He tithed generously to the poor and learned the prayers of the Rosary. (Do you really say that same prayer Fifty Four Times!?!) He accompanied me to church fundraisers and to other events with nuns and priests and women in flowery ankle-length skirts. (“Only you would meet nuns randomly while hiking. And only you would actually know the nuns…”) He even remembered, when Lent came around, to skip the pepperoni on his Friday pizza.
But once back in the car, B.C. Man came out. Only now there was a difference. He had that little fish on the back of the car, so that everyone would know the guy cursing them out and flipping them off was supposedly following Christ. He began to feel guilty about the hypocrisy and the messages being sent on behalf of the Almighty. Something’s gotta give, he realized.
So, the fish came off the car.
* * *
When I moved to the city and learned that the rent on a parking space was nearly that of my former apartment, I became a Pedestrian. Life as a Pedestrian promised to save me money on gym membership and to save my soul at the same time, since I would no longer be impeded on the highway to heaven by occasions of road rage.
That was until one day I hurried down Lexington Avenue to make it in time for 12:15 Mass.
The sidewalk was squeezed on the left by outdoor seating and extended entrances, and to the right was crowded with parking meters or the subway vents (with holes which are perfect death traps for heels). Still, there was ample space to walk on the sidewalk–if one actually chose to WALK.
Instead, lazy restaurant browsers meandered then stopped casually just in front of me to read and consider each menu in each window, no doubt checking for gluten and carbohydrate counts and how many stars each dish rated on Yelp. Dog walkers strolled with their leashes extended horizontally the width of the sidewalk as Fido and Fidette stopped to check out each park meter post individually. BFFs strolled arm-in-arm–all five of them, while moms pushing strollers stopped to chat with the other moms and strollers going the opposite direction. There were the gaggles of teens and tourists, who clogged up the intersections looking at their cell phones or their maps but not at anyone shouting “Excuse Me!!!” who tried to get by. And then there were those oblivious or ignorant who tried angrily to maneuver around them in the wrong lane (“Keep to the right, morons!”), who then crashed at great velocity and offered some verbal New York hospitality all around.
But without a windshield to protect me and my anonymity, I thought it wise to keep all my fingers together, and to resist the urge to shout: “It is a sideWALK, people, not a sideStroll nor a side-Hang-around-and-make-out, nor sideStop-and-talk-on-your-questionably-smartphone!
Five minutes late and fuming at my fellow man, I arrived to spend time with the Prince of Peace. But, the church was cool and quiet and peaceful, and I settled down (mostly) in time to contemplate Whom I was about to receive, and to profess love and benevolence for all sinners, especially those I had just encountered.
But then, as the priest came out to distribute Communion, lo and behold, a traffic jam commenced in the center aisle. Sweet little old ladies and kindly-looking old men with canes, who looked like they could barely walk, fairly flew into the aisle vying to be first in line. Another group whipped around from the side pews, across the front of the church, trying to merge into the front of the line. Others rushed from the back and formed a giant blob, reluctantly becoming a line at the last moment. Once the line was formed, I got on it and reached the priest, only to be blocked by another lady who simply cut in front of the entire line, stepping directly in front of me to receive.
I was glad I didn’t have a fish on the back of my shirt.
*Name changed to protect the guilty.
Photo image was taken or made by Oliver Wolters via Wikimedia Commons. See https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Ichthys_C-Class.jpg for more information.