Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Leaving me in the dust

Contrary to what some people may perceive me to be, I am not a speed freak.

I've gotten exactly two excessive speed violation tickets in my life - the first as a silly teenager, the second as a Father-to-be-running-late-to-lamaze-class.

Never been popped for illegal street racing ("Race on the track you goobers, not on the street"), exhibition of speed (burnouts cost tires and tires cost money), or reckless operation of a motor vehicle (although there was that one time as a newly licensed teen when I took my beloved Nova up a curb and through the 16' tall chain link fence of the high school soccer field, but the cop on the scene didn't ticket me out of sympathy. Sorry about dumping our lunch on the ground, J.L.)

For a car guy who likes cars that can, will, and do go fast, my "Family Guy" status has rendered me perfectly content to bench race -- that would be internally calculating the 1/4 mile traps, top speed, and 0 - 60 times based on vehicle weight, rear-wheel horsepower, torque, converter stall speed, and rear end gearing (among other factors), without having to place myself or the general public in danger.

Beside, wringing a car out will probably only verify two things -- the accuracy (or not) of my calculations and my utter lack of high speed driving skills...heck I still have a hard time parallel parking every now and then.

While on paper and in theory, my desire to "keep it real" on Oklahoma's highways and byways is all law and order, in practice this philosophy recently found me at the very end of the "school bus-Soccer Mom-SUV & minivan" caravan for my 1st grader's class field trip.

My V-scar was itching wildly as SUV after minivan passed me by on the divided highway. I was doing near 70 (65 was the speed limit) yet not one of the parent ferrying vehicles who were accompanying the caravan of school buses, hesitated to blow by me as if I were a retired C.P.A. in an early-80's Chrysler K-car.

I'm not sure what the rush was, but since the buses themselves were setting the quickening blacktop pace, the need to keep up with the diesel spewing kiddie transports may have had something to do with it.

Perhaps all the close calls and hot rodding around I did in the sweet days of my youth were enough for one lifetime. Or my East L.A. adjacent upbringing has finally penetrated my aging soul with the "low and slow" cruising stylings of the Vatos in their hydraulic'd Chevy wonders.

Or maybe I'm just not quite comfortable enough in my "local-ness" to worry about such things as getting stopped by an Okie Smokey in a slightly lowered, tuned and tinted import rice mobile.

Either way, I was the last one to pull into the parking lot at the museum where the 1st graders were going to spend the day, but I wasn't concerned with finding an open parking space. This is Oklahoma after all -- land of acres and acres of free parking.