Honkers and Nonhonkers

The saying goes, "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention," and I like that saying. I really do. It's got that reassuring circular nature going, where the first thing you sense is the tone, and then a millisecond later you pick up on the meaning, prompting you to calculate the personality of the source, at which point it occurs to you that the tone you sensed suits the imagined source perfectly, and one or both corners of your mouth tug gently upward.

I think it only applies to politics, though. I can understand and accept that the general populace (myself included) is fairly uninformed, politically, and that their standard mindset is a dull assumption that everything's in order (that's what I usually think, though I often suspect I'm wrong). And that makes sense - hey, if I were a politician I'd want *my* ignorant constituency to feel secure, so I really can't blame the government for keeping us dummies calm. I get that.

But in other avenues of life, I believe you can pay attention without being outraged.

Take driving. Just about every day when I drive to work, which up until yesterday was always with Penny, some other driver does something stupid. I'm not sure if it ever got around to our turn to be the morons, but it sure seems like everybody else got a chance.

Now, when I was driving and this would happen, I'd swerve, or hit the brakes, or whatever. I'd shake my head, roll my eyes and keep going. Penny, though, let nothing slide. In fact, she was greatly disappointed when our truck came back from the body shop after my sister backed into it and the horn only worked at half-intensity. How she used to love to lay on that horn. Often, the droning honk was followed by obscenities, whether our windows were up or down, and hand gestures were also employed on occasion.

Knowing her as well as I do by now, I pretty much just looked out the window and changed the subject. Why make her madder by criticizing her chosen reaction, or worse, embarrass her? The situation had always passed by then; there was no way to change it, and bringing it up or dragging it out was never in a million years going to alter her policy the next time someone cut her off. So there was, in my mind, no reason at all to call extra attention to what she was doing, nothing to be gained.

Naturally, when I'm driving us home and someone, say, comes to a complete and inexplicable halt in the right lane of an expressway during rush hour, right in front of me, there's yelling, but it's not from me.

"HONK, DAMMIT! Why aren't you honking?!"

I'm urged to also look at what the crap this idiot's doing right here in the damned road, and to question his family lineage along with his right to exist. Sometimes I *will* honk, but mainly to appease her.

Now, I love my wife and everything about her. There is, truly, not one thing I would change, unless it was something I could be certain would result in greater happiness for her. And I have the utmost respect and admiration for the manner in which she leads her life. So my contrasting here of our two philosophies is no kind of defense of my own over hers, or anything like that.

In fact, nothing in twenty-seven years has led me to believe that the way I do it works better than the way she does it. I just like that there are two ways to do it, and that the practitioners of each can provide so much entertainment to each other.

There are umpteen explanations, justifications and ramifications of this dichotomy, and I'm not going into any of 'em. I'm also not expecting one or the other to ever be vindicated and shown as the One True Way. I will, however continue to marvel at the seemingly unneccessarily complexity of the world, how wonderfully interesting it always turns out to be, and for no good reason.

I will fight tooth and nail against one thing, though: the accusation that being my way instead of being her way makes a person some kind of heartless vulcan robot. Or a big wuss. I'm not.


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