11.9 gallons of wisdom


On the newsgroups the other day, I read a story about a guy who drove his new Toyota Prius to a restaurant, and when he got back outside, someone had taken a key and scratched the words “FUCKING TREE HUGGER” on the side of the car. I thought that seemed a little insane and possibly apocryphal, but today I had an experience that made me think again.

Tessa and I were at a stoplight on Airport Rd. in Chapel Hill, when two college kids in a white mini-SUV pulled up beside us. When the light turned green, they stuck their heads out the window and screamed “HIPPIES!” at us, then burned rubber as they pealed away.

Now, anyone who knows Tessa knows that she hasn’t looked like a hippie since her Grateful Dead summer on Nantucket in 1986, and even then, she was just more of a sloppy preppie. And I just had my hair cut, leaving me the spitting image of a goddamn Phi Gam from Fayetteville. The “hippies” slur was a catcall, a verbal assault on a car that happens to get 60 miles per gallon in the city.

Now, I know that sounds like not such a big deal. And I laugh at farts and knock-knock jokes about lesbians as much as the next guy. But you have to understand that these two college fucks are an innocent reminder of everything that is wrong with America. Our car, our unassuming little Toyota, threatens the power structure they thrive on. It is a direct counter to a culture that worships greed, guzzles foreign oil and grows flabby under the weight of ghoulishly unabating consumption.

I wonder if either of them had lost a brother or a father in Iraq while we fought to keep the oil pipeline going – I wonder if they still would have yelled “HIPPIE”. I wonder, perhaps, if they had been too poor to get into Carolina, so they joined the Reserves, then got their ass shipped to Tikrit, where their arms and legs were blown off by a car bomb

0 thoughts on “11.9 gallons of wisdom

  1. michelle again

    *sigh*. Email sure doesn’t carry enough inflection. It was more like *yeah* but less like *YEAH*. Anyhoodle, yeah.

  2. CL

    People are yelling insults because of a car? That is the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks. Thank you. (I’ll bet you, as a writer, are already figuring out where to pitch an essay on this…)
    Well, actually, it’s the second funniest thing, now that I think about it. Bloomberg and the Atkins diet was the funnies thing.
    By the way, “A Toyota” is even cooler when you spell it backwards.

  3. Sean

    You can’t get too mad about what a couple of public school 20 year olds say. Carolina, I love thee, but that place is chock full of shitheads waiting to become real people.
    By the time these kids are 25, they will have come out to their parents or they will have fallen in love with an Indian girl and they will be working for the greater good.

  4. jon

    Well, or more likely, they will be working as “marketing managers” for NationsBankNCNBGlobalDiversifiedCorporateHoldingsTrust at HQ in Charlotte. They’ll live in a house identical to those on both sides of it, where the garages dwarf and conceal the actual entranceways, and they’ll be thrilled that they made such a great investment at the right time in a “good neighborhood.” And then they’ll go to Applebees for dinner. I hear the chicken fingers are good there.

  5. chris13

    I just want Subaru to make a hybrid. BTW, the Prius is actually a great car for a gearhead, I would think….car has amazing engine technology as well as a control panel (with the optional nav system) that looks like something out of the helm of Star Trek.

  6. Salem Suber

    Sean, I think Bud is working for the greater good and married an Indian woman. Did I miss my cue to come out to my parents? Damn it, I didn’t even know I was supposed to be gay! This explains alot.

  7. scotty

    Oh boo hoo. I was spit on in Chapel Hill for having a Duke sticker on my car (feel free to insert witty and delightful “Dook” joke here). At one stoplight on Franklin Street some youngsters in a SUV (a theme, perhaps?) made threatening gestures and mouthed some baloney such as “Duke sucks. We’re going to kick your ass M*****F*****.” The next stoplight brought a lovely looger that came through the open window and landed on my hand. Nothing but class.

  8. hilary

    you’re looking a bit like a red-headed howard dean in that picture…maybe they thought you were related to him
    great entry ian

  9. Salem

    Ian, The note on my car was a threatening reaction to having a Gratefull Dead sticker and a Vote Bush/Quayle sticker. Of course, a girlfriend had put the Gratefull Dead sticker on as a joke, but the note demonstrated how students tend to use the same fascist tactics and mentality even though they are wearing different uniforms. Dirty bucks, Goth, or Petchuli(sp?) oil, we were all just as hypocritical at that age.

  10. Salem

    Hey Scotty, That SUV offender, was it in 1990? I’m pretty sure that was my sister. How could she have known your future contributions to Chapel Hill life?

  11. michelle

    Wait a minute- can someone clear this up for me? I knew Lars was a Dookie but is Scotty a full-fledged dookie too? Scotty, did you go to both UNC and Dook? I don’t remember. I am nothing but a fringe Tarheel.

  12. Ian

    Well, actually it would say “My Wife’s Older Car is a LAND Rover.” However, that car is put out to pasture, and we only use it for camera shoots that require lots of equipment.
    But thanks for keeping us honest.

  13. Bud

    Kids have sometimes yelled at me on my bike.
    My previous approach was to escalate immediately to “fighting words,” which usually ended things. When someone actually responded to that, I’d urge them to “get down out of Daddy’s POS” so we could find out how tough they *really* were (no takers, ever).
    No one’s yelled anything at me since (oddly enough) the week last year when I decided to stop responding.
    I’d actually expected *more* heckling, since I’d recently slapped an “Osama (heart) your SUV” sticker on my helmet. You can get those here: http://democracymeansyou.com/order
    Better to ignore fools. Our third grade teacher was right–they just want a reaction. People who yell things from passing cars, and people who think they need an SUV, are obviously trying to compensate for some inadequacy.

  14. salem's little sister

    Hey smart-ass. I was still in Charlotte in 1990, living in our huge house, in the right neighborhood, with our stay-at-home mon and NCNB banker dad, eating chicken fingers at Applebys.

  15. steph

    Why hello birdie! I can’t help but comment on the SUV-Dead-Duke-Chapel Hill theme going on here. I almost paid-off my fuel-efficient Ford Escort then I realize I would be driving a Ford Escort til it died, which probably wouldn’t take long considering it barely had enough “umph” to make it up most hills. I traded it in for a Ford SUV because I hoped by the time I finished paying it off, I’d have kids to fill it. (Single people in their 20’s don’t invest in caravans) So that’s how I rationalize my gas guzzler. Also, because I was moving every 6 months and it’s cheaper to haul your own sutff than rent a U-Haul. Anyway, I do have a Terrapin Station deadhead sticker on it if that adds to the irony. (C’mon one of the best albums out there.) I would almost be the giant Bee-atch to say I don’t believe Ian could encounter such a a display of TOTAL PUNKHOOD, but I remember being taunted (verbally and almost physically) by a Dook student while at the South Square mall, because I was wearing my Tar Heel NC jacket. Oh! the gall of me.


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