Autorumination (the reprise)


(This is a black-and-white cartoon in pen and ink that I have shamelessly colorized with colored pencil.)

    I have to tell you, driving in Texas, especially the “Big D” is taking your life in your hands, gripping that old steering wheel in a grip of death, and trying like heck not to hit any of the myriad things flying in front of you.  I have had in my lifetime three accidents and too many near misses to count.  Drivers that don’t have their number of kills painted on the driver-side door are rare indeed.
    One of the scariest encounters on the road has to be the legendary Texas Killer Grandma.  They have a private club where they get together over knitting and compare the goriest kills they have managed with their oversized automobiles.  These old lady drivers are invariably white-skinned and have hair either of strange shades of blue and periwinkle, or silver, almost chrome.  They have Killer Grandma nicknames like Suicide Sadie and End-It-All Emma.  They drive big black Cadillacs, Buicks, and Mercedes.  They have mostly no-fault insurance that will guarantee they can mash your children in the back end of your family car without jail time, and usually without paying for a penny of your damages.  They cruise around Dallas watching for unwary drivers so they can leap in front without signaling, getting bashed from behind by the victim, and sending the victim swirling off the overpass to a fiery death and dismemberment.  Then they cackle all the way to the next club meeting.
    Killer Grandmas drive a class of vehicle I call the American Wasp Rocket.  These are large, unwieldy vehicles from Ford and GM that wreak havoc with smaller, slower cars, especially foreign-made cars like Toyotas, Subarus, and Volkswagens.  In the northern precincts of Dallas, Austin, and Houston, where these vehicles truly dominate, you will often see BMW, Volvo, or Italian Wasp Rockets, which are almost an oxymoron by their very nature.  (“I only buy them gol’ dang furrin cars iffen they’re status symbols, cause I only buy American, but I figgur high-dollar wagons like them thar Lambourginis count as American too!”)  These cars are all large enough to crush an SUV under their wheels, and, of course, they are only driven at hyper-speeds while winding their way through heavy traffic so the occupants can arrive anywhere they are going FIRST.  Besides Texas Killer Grandmas, there are few other drivers of these vehicles who aren’t over-weight, middle-aged white males who have high-paying white-collar jobs.
    The most common vehicles on Texas highways are, of course, the typical Bubba.  Bubba cars are always pick-up trucks, and almost always Chevys.  In fact, they almost have to be white, red, or brown, or they don’t count as a proper Bubba.  Bubbas drive like Foster Brooks on speed, always weaving, wobbling, wagging, and wrecking.  The highway is their own personal demolition derby, and if they don’t get you with a straight-on hood-smash, they’ll ding you with whatever falls out of the back of their pick-up (beer bottles, kids, used tires, tools, parts of the vehicle that have already fallen off once before, and sometimes ugly wives).
    A more-or-less brain-damaged sub-species of Bubba is the Billy Bob.  They drive Ford pickups, white, red, brown, and sometimes gold.  They will kill you no less quickly than a Bubba, but they do tend to have better insurance.
    Of course, I can’t even talk about Beaner cars.  It is not politically correct, as a young Hispanic student was pointing out to me just two weeks ago.  “I can say I’m a Beaner,” he said, “But you can’t say it because you’re a Gringo Loco.  Only Beaners are allowed to call a Beaner a Beaner.  You could be killed for saying that in the Barrio!  Even for thinking that!”  So, I won’t talk about those cars on the road in the fast lane doing a mere twenty-five miles per hour.  I won’t mention how they have eighteen kids and a Tia Carmen in the back seat and can’t see out with the rear view mirror.  I won’t even talk about the rosary beads, fuzzy dice, and numerous brightly colored stuffed animals that hang from the rear view mirror blocking the windshield also.  It just wouldn’t be nice to talk about that.
    So, I guess I have to sum up with a concluding statement that makes sense out of all of this Texas road-rage and bumper-car nonsense.  It would have to be something like this:  If you ever plan to drive in Texas, be prepared.  Have your burial plot purchased, your insurance paid up, and “Drive Friendly!”

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