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There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
The Finger
By David
Posted September 12, 2013

Disclaimer: My wife would most likely advise me not to publish this story. She would be correct about that, of course, not only because she's smarter (and better looking) than me, but because she's always right about these things. So, having said that, here goes:

I'm driving down Mulholland toward the freeway. It's about 10am on a beautiful, sunny day on a particularly picturesque part of the San Fernando Valley. The road winds down the edge of a mountain, following its contour, and I get a glimpse of God's country.

Actually, I know it's probably NOT God's country because of the sinfully high income taxes levied on the residents who live in these parts, but anyway... I must have driven down Mulholland a million times and I know it like the back of my hand.

For the next seven miles or so, there is only a single lane in each direction, and the road has no shoulder. At times the road takes blind turns, and drivers can't see what's in front of them just past the upcoming twists and turns in the road. That's why the local residents, like me, drive slowly enough to avoid unpleasant surprises like stalled cars, migrating wildlife, and the occasional but always unexpected pedestrian.

I finally pass the blind turn and the road is clear, so I step on the gas pedal ever so gently, and my car accelerates almost cheerfully.

Well, this wasn
Well, this wasn't exactly the finger. But, you get the point...

Just then, I notice a bicyclist in front of my car. Bummer. That means I have two options, neither of which is really appealing to me.

The first is to drive at a snail's pace behind the bike until I reach the point that the road expands to two lanes. That will be in about 5 miles. Or, the second option is for me to pass the bike by going into the other lane, meaning potentially head on into opposing traffic. Of course, if the damned bike would just pull over to the right slightly, the whole process would be much safer for all concerned.

But around here, bicycling is basically considered a holy pursuit, so these sacrosanct environmentalists/fitness junkies could't possibly be bothered to cooperate with lazy, gasoline-consuming drivers like me.

Well, although I've driven this very same road day-in-day-out for years, this bicycle-centric philosophy does't sit well with me, so I honk my car's horn, and hope the bike will veer slightly to the right, to enable me to pass it safely. But, no such luck. Instead, the bike moves ever so slightly to the center of the road -- a not-so-subtle way of blocking me from passing safely.

By now, I'm a little annoyed and eager to get to my destination, rather than driving at 10 miles/hr for the next 5 miles. So, I honk again.

Still, no response and no cooperation. The bike continues to leisurely roll down the center of the single lane road, still blocking me.

My level of annoyance rises and I start considering my options again. I remind myself that dealing with various inconsiderate people is just an unavoidable part of life and the only thing to do is take a deep breath, slow down, and try to enjoy the natural beauty of my surroundings.

But by then, we pass another blind curve and the road is clear on both sides, at least for the next quarter of a mile.

So, I immediately abandon my Zen granola-eater plan, and just pass the cyclist, going slightly into the opposing traffic lane. It occurs to me that in just a moment I'd be done with the uncooperative bike episode and back to my regularly scheduled programming.

Okay, I should stop the story here to say that what I did next isn't something I'm proud of, and as a responsible grown-up, I don't condone or recommend this type of behavior.

But, as I prepare to pass the bike, the Bronx in me kicks in, and I slow down just long enough to flip off the inconsiderate douche-bag cyclist. I then continue to center my SUV in the correct lane and drive on.

Except for one thing...

After getting back safely into my lane, I was still holding up my middle finger for a very brief amount of time, maybe 10 or 15 seconds max, no longer.

During those few seconds, however, another car comes driving in the opposing lane. I didn't think twice about it, since it's nothing out of the ordinary. I barely noticed that it was a shiny red pickup truck -- the type that well-to-do people sometimes drive to be seen as down-to-earth around here.

With my middle finger still up in the air as the red pickup approaches, I notice that the driver looks vaguely familiar. It's a middle-aged lady with silvery-blonde hair and she's looking at me with a rather odd expression. We pass each other and continue onto our destinations in a blink of the eye.

But it's then I realize that to the driver of the red pickup, it must have seemed that I was raising my finger to her. She would have had no idea at all that it was intended for the bicyclist behind me, nor that I just hadn't put my arm down in the very few seconds it took to pass the bike.


The final realization hits me right then: The driver of the red pickup is someone I know. Not only is it a close neighbor of mine, but it's even worse. The lady is no other than the president of my Home Owner's Association.

Awkward... Beyond awkward...

I'll leave it at that.

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