11.9 gallons of wisdom

2/13/04

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