Driving fast to the orange barrel convention

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I was driving and my wife was riding shotgun. It was a long journey that needed to be made in a short time. Such traveling is never without perils. The traffic was heavy, lanes were closed, the speeds were too high, and there was an orange barrel convention taking place. As I maneuvered my way through the reduced lanes snaking across the countryside while attempting to stay ahead of the vehicle behind me, I grumped, “If I ever have a heart attack, it will be while I’m driving.”

My lovely bride, with her hands firmly grasping parts of our car, replied, “If I ever have a heart attack, it will be while you’re driving.”

Educating Allen

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I went to a small grade school — three teachers, three classrooms, and six grades.

By the time I was a sixth grader, I was still trying to get through my head when to use principal or principle. I knew that a school authority was the principal because “principal” had “pal” in it and the principal was my pal. I had learned to remember that “principal” had an “a” in it and could be used as an adjective while “principle” could not.

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Bach, who was also my fifth grade teacher, asked me, “Do you know what will happen when you move to junior high?”

I had heard rumors of life changing events occurring in the seventh grade. I had hopes, but no answers. “What?” I asked in return.

“Something will happen each time the school bell rings. Do you know what it will be?” said Mrs. Bach.

Something happened each time the grade school bell rang—school started, lunch hour began, lunch hour ended, and school concluded.

This time, I had an answer, “An angel gets his wings.”

“No,” said Mrs. Bach in that manner of a teacher who just realized she’d wasted months trying to educate someone. “Every time the bell rings you move to another classroom.”

I was excited. I had always wanted to travel.

The bun warmer

I rushed to get my rental car. The kind woman working for the agency told me that the car was not available, but they had upgraded me at no extra charge. The car they put me in was a dandy. It was much too nice for the likes of me. The outside temperature was in the ’80s, so as I left the airport, I fumbled with the controls in order to employ the air conditioner. After traveling a few miles down the road, I noticed that it was quite warm in the car. I punched the button that would put the air conditioning onto maximum cool. A few more miles went onto the odometer and I was still hot. Then I noticed that it was my rear end that was the hottest. I had somehow turned on the bun warmer. The car had a heated seat and so did I.

From those thrilling days of yesteryear

I liked movies when I was a boy, but didn’t go to many. There were drive-in movies (passion pits) and regular movie theaters. One day, a friend of my mother’s offered to treat me to a movie if I would accompany her son. Her son was three years older than I was and seemed like a hood, but I wanted to see a movie. We went into the theater featuring an illuminated marquee and a balcony where couples went for serious smooching. The theater was ornate with much purple and velvet. As an aspiring film buff, I drooled over the posters showing coming attractions. Part of my pay for accompanying the boy, who had difficulty interacting with others, was a little money for snacks.

We each bought a box of Dots — a flavored assortment of gumdrops. We found seats near the screen, but not so close to cause stiff necks. The previews flew by on the big screen, we were reminded repeatedly of the foodstuffs available in the lobby, and then the feature started. I discovered that my new friend had the annoying habit of popping one Dot at a time into his gaping maw and then making disgusting slurping sounds.

The movie hit a plot point that disappointed my new friend. He grabbed a green Dot from his mouth and chucked the softened candy at the screen. It stuck there.

There were cries of disapproval from other moviegoers, but they faded as the green Dot stubbornly remained in place. The green Dot became the main character of the movie and caused much laughter as it found itself in the strangest of locations.

The movie wasn’t that good, but I thought the green Dot should have received an Academy Award nomination.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.