Houston is the fattest city in the United States because Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth if you’re not paying for the oats it eats.

Since my fiance and I started carpooling to work, I pushed my 8-hour work day back an hour, so that it now coincides with the busiest part of the morning commute, and also with our HOV lane’s 3 Rider Rule. For a certain portion of the morning, you have to have 3 people in the vehicle in order to get into the High Occupancy Vehicle lane. Therefore, even though we’re carpooling, we still have to pick up a stranger from the Slug Line each morning in order to make it to work in less than 90 minutes.

The Slug Line forms at the park ‘n’ ride bus stop. The bus at that stop goes into downtown on Smith Street. It goes all the way down Smith, then turns around and comes back to the park ‘n’ ride. The Slug Line is formed by people who don’t want to ride the bus – who stand in line and wait for drivers who need extra riders to meet the HOV requirements. See how it works? See the mutually beneficial symbiotic parasite relationship that’s sprung up?

We don’t work downtown. We work near downtown. So we pick up a stranger, haul them downtown, then turn around and hurry back out west, to our workplace in Houston’s beautiful Montrose.

If we drop off our passenger on Smith Street, we can easily make it to our workplace in time to enjoy breakfast at its cafeteria. If, however, we drop off our passenger anywhere past Smith, we fall into a time warp whereby each red light adds an exponential amount of minutes to our drive, and then we get to work late and can’t eat breakfast, and then we’re hungry, cranky, and sad. You see? Every minute counts on this morning commute, for us.

Some slug line drivers will take riders wherever they want to go downtown. I used to do that, before I started carpooling with my fiance. But some drivers don’t. Some drivers say “Bus route only.” Smith Street only, they mean. So we decided to start doing that, too. Before a rider gets into our car, we roll down the window and say, “We’re only going down Smith.”

Before I say anything else, let me say that this is America, and I was born here, and I believe that we all have the unalienable right to pursue happiness. If it makes you happy to wait in line at the bus stop for a free ride that’s going to take you directly to your place of work, like a hired chaffeur, that’s totally cool with me. I support your right to do that. Rock on.

You should, in turn, support my right to offer strangers rides to Smith Street only. Or to Milam only. Or to the Sam Houston Tollway, or to the moon, or to whatever point I choose. If you don’t want to accept a free ride from me, that’s fine. But don’t argue with me about it. When I say, “We’re going down Smith only,” don’t stand there and say, “I’m just going a few blocks away, to Fannin and Dallas. Why can’t you go to Fannin? It’s only going to take you a few minutes longer. Where are you trying to go?”

It’s none of your business where I’m “trying to go,” or why I might need the few minutes that dropping you off on Smith would save me. Step away from my car so that the next person in line can get into it. Wait for the next driver to come along, and see if she wants to play chaffeur.

When I very politely tell you, before you get into my car, “We’re doing the bus route only,” don’t stand there in the way and tell me, “What? Why? I don’t see what difference it makes.”

Yes, that’s right. You don’t see what difference it makes. And I don’t have to explain it to you. Just like I don’t see what difference it makes if I drop you off on Smith and you have to walk a block or two, the way you’d be obligated to do if you were riding the bus. I don’t think walking a block or two is going to kill you. And I wonder, if you can’t walk a block or two, why you don’t drive yourself to work, instead of putting yourself at the mercy of strangers on a daily basis. But I wouldn’t block traffic to tell you that, and I wouldn’t ask you to explain it to me. Especially when there’s a whole line of people behind you who understand the social contract of the slug line and who exhibit manners and common decency.

Most people in the slug line are perfectly polite. But some of them are so bizarrely entitled and rude. It would be funny to me, if it weren’t so early in the morning.

I don’t want to go on and on about bad behavior on the carpool. (Well, I do, but I won’t.) I’ll just say that, if you get into my car and I turn the air conditioning too high, it’s probably in a vain attempt to blow your cologne cloud out of my face.

Also: If you’re a blonde woman who lost a pair of glasses two months ago, or if you’re someone else who lost a pink mitten three months ago, email me. You might have left them in our car.

Weddings are like tumors.

Because they grow, you see. No matter how small you think you can keep it, it grows. But this one’s a benign tumor, so far, and I believe we’re strong enough to keep it that way.

We realized that Harris County doesn’t do real courthouse weddings. You pay for the judge’s or JP’s time, and it costs the same whether y’all meet at the courthouse or he drives to the location of your choosing. So we’re having Judge Yeoman come out to the house in the evening, right before our cake and champage wedding dinner.

The cake-and-champagne has become a dinner. Dat looked it up in his list of Cultural Heritage Statutes and realized that he’d been contractually obligated, at birth, to serve catered fried rice at any wedding in which he might eventually become entangled. So we’re doing that. (I love Asian parties because, along with the fried rice and egg rolls, they always have goi, which is vinegar-y salad with shrimp and peanuts. So we’re having that, too, of course.)

I’m relieved, because I felt a little uncomfortable about having a party and not serving a meal (Chicano Cultural Statute, Clause 57.03), and I was already planning to sneak in a brisket (Clause 57.92) next to the wedding cake… and now I can put the brisket on a nice plate, right next to the fried rice, and it’ll be beautiful.

You can’t have a dinner without extra seating, and you can’t have extra seating without building a gazebo in the back yard, and you can’t build back yard structures with remodeling the bathroom, first, and you can’t go through the trouble of remodeling if you aren’t going to wear a nicer dress than you’d initially planned. So you may as well have a photographer or three, and printed invitations.

And you can’t have relatives without opinions, and they can’t show up empty handed. So someone’s bringing flowers, and someone’s bringing lights to string through the trees, and someone’s bringing special crunk champagne flutes with our initials engraved in emeralds or something. And (more than one) someone has volunteered to do our family planning for us and tell us when we should have babies, and how many babies we should have, and what they should look like, and what we should name them. But that comes later… we told them to wait to the day after the wedding for that, if possible.

And… let me say right here, right now that I’m sorry that we can’t invite everyone we know. We wish we could, but we can’t. This was supposed to be a quick courthouse wedding because we couldn’t justify the expense of a lavish 300-guest fantasy wedding. But weddings are like tumors, so it’s gone from a practical elopement to a tiny version – a 1/10 scale model – of a real wedding. But our house is pretty small, as is our budget… so please understand that, and don’t be upset if you haven’t been invited. It wasn’t because we didn’t wish we could see you there. We wanted to invite you, but we had to invite our immediate family, first. We wanted to invite everyone we know, but there was literally no room.

art, life

Now, between books (assuming I write another book soon), I’m going through a mid-life assessment. Trying to assess where I am and decide where I want to go.

Every time I’m between books, I think up a lot of crazy ideas. But now that I’m in my mid-40s (i.e., 37), the crazy ideas seem not only more plausible, but almost obligatory. Like: “Do I want to spend the rest of my life [x thing]? No.” Like, “If I have to spend the rest of my life [x thing], shouldn’t I at least [y and z things]? Yes.”

I’m sure y’all know what I mean. Don’t you go through the same phases? Aren’t we all getting older, but also smarter and more efficient and better at making ourselves happy?

Hope so.

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Posted in getting older, hating, Houston, venting, wedding stuff, writing on 03/24/2009 11:07 am

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