Horse­power high­way

The Compass - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters

“Last night I had the strangest dream,” said I at the break­fast table.

“And that’s dif­fer­ent how, Harry, my dream-tossed honey?” said Dear­est Duck, pil­ing pump­kin mar­malade on her toast.

“How?” said I. “No de­mons in this one, my Duck. Not of the hell-hound type any­way.” “Hmmm,” said Dear­est Duck. So, here’s my dream.

Me and Dear­est Duck — al­ways my dream girl, be I wide awake or deep in slum­ber — were driv­ing in our Chevy some­where on a busy pro­vin­cial high­way. Dear­est Duck con­cen­trated on her iPad — Candy Crush, for sure. I con­cen­trated on … well, on my driv­ing, of course, but also on the knock­ing I fan­cied was sound­ing from the rear end.

A steady belt of traf­fic ap­proached and zipped past in the op­po­site lane — trans­port truck, SUV, SUV, SUV, beater, dark sedan, light sedan, Al­berta truck, ‘nother Al­berta truck … zip, zip, zip.

I main­tained a steady — steady old fo­gey some might say — 99 klicks, care­fully mind­ing the bumps and ruts to al­low Dear­est Duck a steady hand on her iPad. An oc­ca­sional ve­hi­cle came up be­hind and pulled around when there was plenty of bro­ken line.

All in all, not an un­usual or un­pleas­ant drive.

Un­til some lu­natic dropped out of warp-drive be­hind us, squat on the rear bumper so close I couldn’t see his grill in the rearview mir­ror, and yanked out to pass be­fore there was not suf­fi­cient time to do so, and...

This was a dream re­mem­ber, and that’s when the strangest dream switch hap­pened.

In sud­den dream se­quence, me and Dear­est Duck — and ev­ery­one else, ap­par­ently — were rid­ing along in horse­drawn bug­gies. Con­sid­er­ing it was dream­time, it wasn’t es­pe­cially odd that Dear­est Duck’s iPad had be­come an em­broi­dery hoop and her nim­ble fingers now plied a threaded nee­dle stitch­ing French Knots in a pil­lowslip. Ac­cord­ing to some dream­time logic, in­stead of reins I still gripped a steer­ing wheel, al­beit as use­less as the wheel of a coin-op­er­ated ride at The Mall.

“For frig sake,” said I in dream­time.

“Harry,” said Dear­est Duck at the break­fast table, “the old fool­ish­ness that goes on in your head some­times wor­ries me.”

“Just a dream, my Duck,” said I. “Please pass the mar­malade.

Dream Weavers and shrinks, nev­er­the­less, claim that our dreams have mean­ing, eh b’ys?

I s’pose, at least the rea­son for my dream is ob­vi­ous, in light of re­cent fa­tal ac­ci­dents on our high­ways.

There’s noth­ing new to say about high­way hor­rors.

“That won’t stop you, will it?” says Dear­est Duck in real-time.

“I do have my thoughts on the sub­ject, my Duck,” say I.

Here’s one of my thoughts, al­though patently cliché: There is no cure for stupid.

Posted speed lim­its will not cure stupid. Speed­ing tick­ets dealt like play­ing cards will not cure stupid. Sadly, wrecks and death — even fear of one’s own death — will not cure stupid.

And just as there is no all-sat­is­fy­ing an­swer to any of the univer­sal why-why-why(s), there is no sat­is­fac­tory an­swer to what it is about we hu­mans that al­lows for in­cur­able stu­pid­ity.

Too easy to say it’s in our genes, eh b’ys?

I don’t ex­clude my­self when I say we be­have stupidly in­side our au­to­mo­biles. I in­tended to ex­clude my­self, but Dear­est Duck grabbed me by the ear and said, “Harry, my some­times-heed­less love, you too have sinned so stop pre­par­ing to chuck rocks.”

That’s what she said. Or words to that ef­fect.

I con­fess, I’ve been dis­tracted by my cell-o-phone in traf­fic. My sausage fingers can­not text, but I have held my phone flat and jabbed at its face in hopes of ac­ti­vat­ing the speaker func­tion — and felt the front wheels lurch for just a sec­ond.

So, right here, right now, I make this solemn vow. This very week, no, this very day, I will learn how to use that Blue­tooth chummy on our Chevy’s dash­board.

I hereby swear.

P’raps my thoughts are as dis­jointed as events in dreams, or as pe­cu­liarly hinged as a bull moose’s hind legs, eh b’ys? Here’s an­other. Stupidly, and need­lessly, we speed be­cause we can. As Dear­est Duck re­minds me, our se­niors’ Chevy doesn’t al­ways chug up and down the high­way at a sober 99.

A dream-like jump… When I was an un­sul­lied bay-boy in the brave new days af­ter Con­fed­er­a­tion pupped, I dreamed of a day when Pappy might own a car — me­chan­i­cally har­nessed horse­power, so to speak — gas it up and take the fam­ily for a Sun­day drive on a brand new gravel high­road …

… and leave Dob­bin chomp­ing oats back in the sta­ble.

Thank you for read­ing.

Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­

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