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2001-07-29 - 2:23 p.m.

Sunday in the park

How ’bout this, an entry from the ballpark!

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, warm and sunny, a breeze shuffling my papers on the desk in my press box window seat. I’ll watch most of this game from the deck, leaning back in my chair, my feet up on the railing, watching the events unfold before me.

I walked into the press box at 12:45 this afternoon. Neil yells over to me, “First pitch is at 1:05 you know!” I turn around point out that I have 20 minutes to spare. Then I explain how it is tough to wake up and get ready for the day after a night out at Headliner, one of the Shore’s more popular night clubs – where all the women are nearly naked, all the men are scanning and scoping and all the children are left in the parking lot because their fake IDs are confiscated. Michelle and I went there only because Dave called me as I was walking to the clubhouse for postgame interviews last night and said he and some friends would be heading that way. Since Headliner is on the way home from the ballpark, I said we’d meet them.

Michelle and I actually arrived before they did and so we waited in the parking lot, watching the pretty people walk in and judging them on their looks. Inside, we pushed our way through the crowded indoor bar, where the room was dark and the techno beat annoying and uninviting. I have no desire to get my groove on in such conditions – none of us did, in fact, though through the course of the night we’d occassionally find ourselves bobbing our heads along to the beat and drawing ridicule from the others (“HA! Dan’s getting his groove going!”).

So we forged our way outside where we stood on the deck, finding a spot of land large enough for our circle of 10, which really was two circles of five, and we stood there and drank and talked and decided that we – Dave, Michelle and I particularly – would never get tattoos, though if I were, it might be of the state of New Jersey. I can’t think of where it would go, or why I would ever want one, so the whole thing is pointless anyway. And I think it’s so cool that my girlfriend has one, cute and small and unassuming as it is.

After two beers and such sophisticated conversation, our hunger took over and five of us – Dave, Michelle, Rudy and his cousin as well as myself – left for the Windmill, NJ’s famous “gourmet fast food” and a drunken late-night staple. Exhausted – though not drunk – and tired, we made it home by 2 a.m. And yet, as tired as I was, I had a need to log on, read some e-mail, read a diary and fall asleep with visions of a sugar plum dancing in my head. Instead, Casey called and I got to sleep two hours later.

As for this morning, so much for relaxing Sunday drives. In my 35-minute, 26-mile drive to the ballpark, I encountered four aggressive, disgruntled, horn-honking motorists expressing their displeasure with profanities and a carefully chosen finger.

The Idiot in the Wrong Who Yelled at Me

On the way to the Parkway, I’m waiting in one of two lanes while the opposing traffic crosses in front of me doing so with the benefit of a green arrow. As is the custom at this light, when our light turns green, oncoming traffic continues to turn in front of us, somehow oblivious to the fact that when your left-turn green arrow turns yellow, you have mere moments before your right-of-way priviledges are revoked. This being the case consistently, when I have the opportunity I pull into the left lane as the first car. When our light turns green and the last few cars shoot through the intersection, I can always get through the merge to one lane ahead of the car next to me, which has to wait longer for the law-breaking left turners to pass.

As is custom, I move forward when my light turns green, just as a warning to those who haven’t yet begun their left turns without a thought. As the last car makes its left, one of two motorcycles sees his right-of-way has ended – he must now yield to oncoming traffic before making a left – and halts. His buddy on another bike doesn’t notice at first and stumbles to a stop next to him. Apparently, the car behind the two bikes cannot understand the concept of traffic signals, left-turn arrows and the word “yield,” because as I pass, I see a guy leaning out his car window yelling, “... fucking genius! ...” but not in a complimentary way. I’m pretty sure the comment is directed at me because out of the corner of my eye, it appears as though he’s looking at me. I know it’s not one of the two bikers, who realized their mistake, because they turn around startled to look at the aggressive asshole behind them who yelled. Had I not been in the lead ahead of the traffic, I’d have stopped and strongly informed the guy that he was an idiot – “Hey Lady, you’re an idiot!” – and I was right and I’ll take him on in a Rules of the Road Challenge any day.

I’m one of the good Jersey drivers. Don’t mess with me.

The Punk Kid Who Passed on the Right

Off the Parkway in Brick, the road is two lanes, save for one short stretch where the right lane is closed for some mysterious construction – I say mysterious because there is no construction going on, the road is perfectly intact, yet the lane is closed. I’m in the right lane, aware of the closure because I drive this road regularly, so I accelerate and move left with plenty of room to spare to the large Lincoln Town Car laboring along behind me.

Just as I pass the last point before the big orange cones close off the right lane, I look in my mirror to see some kid in his white Honda CR5 or CRV or some such thing shoot by the Town Car on the right and slide in front of it, just before the cones. The Town Car honks and I watch in my mirror as the kid looks back and flashes the finger at the old man or woman who took offense to his move.

The Really Pissed off Chick in the Tiburon

Barely a mile after the incident with the punk kid, I’m heading west on Route 88 – “Down on the dark side of Route 88” (Springsteen, “Spirit in the Night”) – when a Honda with PENNSYLVANIA plates (sorry, but it’s true) leisurely pulls out of a car dealership parking lot on the left, making a left in front of the car in front of me, a red Tiburon. Not only does the man make this turn after waiting, then going at a point when both the Tiburon and I have to brake hard (and I wasn’t even following that closely), but he actually pauses for a moment in the middle of the road, looking back at the lot from which he came.

The woman driving the Tiburon leans on the horn and holds up her finger for the driver to see and – I can see in her driver’s side mirror – explains to the person she’s talking with on her cell phone (yeah, she wasn’t completely innocent in all this) what’s happening. As we continue down Route 88, the Pennsylvania driver still crawling along, the Tiburon honks again as she no doubt continues to bitch him out to her passenger and acquaintance on the phone.

A quarter-mile later, the Honda turns right into another dealership and pauses just off the road to look back and point at the Tiburon, which whips around the Honda and pulls up near it, honking the whole time, yelling and gesturing before speeding off.

Hee-hee, on the road on a New Jersey summer weekend.

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