Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Men talk it over

Outside our motel room in Amish Country, PA (the town of Bird-in-Hand, to be precise) last week gathered some men.  We were checking out and preparing for the ride home, and they had done so too.  From what I could figure, there were three couples from upstate New York, and the men were standing in three quarters of a circle, kind of rocking back and forth on their heels as men will do, rattling their pocket change and talking about...highways.

"Yeah, we got on 87, took that on down to 84, picked up 81 right outside Scranton and that dumped us right into 78, and..."

Men of all ages are fascinated by roads and where roads will take them, and it gets to where we ascribe certain characteristics to highways ("smooth," "bumpy outside of Schuylerstown") and to drivers from other states ("Yeah I was making good time; then I got stuck behind a Sunday driver from Delaware..."). We recognize the best times to travel ("got to hit the Beltway before 7 or you might as well just stay put"), how good the local crews are at salting and plowing ("213 was clean as a whistle, but then once we got on the county road, they hadn't even TOUCHED it") and, of course, where the gendarmerie are on the prowl ("Sonny was sailing down 50, right outside Sudlersville, and that state boy was sittin' right by that diner we used to stop at.  Got him for 75 in a 55").

Other topics men are likely to cover as they stand around rattling their quarters and dimes would include gas mileage in their cars (always inflated), how much they paid for their house (also inflated) and how much they paid for their cars (always deflated.)  The Orioles' chances at another World Series victory, the best places for steamed crabs, and how judges in traffic court "give everyone else in the world a break but throw the book at me" are also talked almost to death every single time.  Just ask Sonny.

There was that old country song "Forever and Ever, Amen" by that old country singer Randy Travis, in which he talks about "...as long as old men sit and talk about the weather, as long as old women sit and talk about old men..."  I guess that's what women talk about in a cluster.  If I were among them, it wouldn't be an all-woman group, and so the collective intelligence level would go down.

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