A few bits and pieces left over from the trip and other matters…
On the way back to Mondoville yesterday, we had the misfortune to get caught behind some sort of dump truck south of Richmond. It began to leak small pebbles from the tailgate’s lower left/driver’s side corner, allowing them to catch our windshield on the first or second bounce. A 3-5 second pelting left the windshield with a BB-gun-style circular crack, and a more dramatic, curving one on the passenger’s side of the windshield. Fortunately, our insurance means that we get a new windshield on Tuesday, but things could have been much worse. I’m just glad it wasn’t a bowling ball truck.
One of the things that Mrs. M and I noticed while we were in Terpville and environs was that driving etiquette there is different than it is down here, and by different, I mean relatively nonexistent. Mrs. M said she has never been the target of so much horn usage as she was on this trip, and our out-of-state plates were no defense. I got beeped at once or twice myself, but I’m sufficiently thick-skinned that I didn’t take it personally. I was able to recall my Cincinnati-area driving chops after a bit, and while that still put me on the conservative end of the driver behavior spectrum, I know I didn’t have to stomp the brakes too often, and I’m reasonably confident that I didn’t cause any accidents either.
On the other hand, we did discover that in parking lots up there, it’s a Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes. We stopped by a Walmart on Friday night to pick up a few more things for the Spawn, and it was like being dropped into an outtake from The Road Warrior. Three- and four-car convoys would run the wrong way down the parking lanes more or less at speed, and at one point, someone in a Canyonero-sized pickup nearly backed over us, trying to turn in the wrong direction while backing into a disability parking spot. That is not an exaggeration, and was even enough to force Mrs. M to lean on the horn. We were in a Kia Sorento, but I felt like I was on board PT-109. Or maybe the Pequod.
Another thing we noticed is that Terpland is crammed full of geographically tiny municipalities. Some of the places we found ourselves passing through (on drives of 1-8 miles) were Adelphi, Beltsville, Cloverley, College Park, Hyattsville, Landover Hills, Riverdale/Riverdale Park, and likely a few more that have slipped my mind. Here in Mondoville, we have Newberry, about four miles of nothing, and then Prosperity, and a few more miles of nothing, and then Little Mountain. In another direction from Newberry, we have about fifteen miles of nothing, and then Whitmire. It’s quite a contrast. I don’t know if these are simply neighborhoods with attitude, or full-fledged, independent jurisdictions, but it felt odd to drive two miles and be three towns from your starting point, and I say this as a guy whose dad drove through three states (KY, IN, and OH via I-275) to get to a job for several years. But at least it took him 45 minutes or so. At the rate things seemed to go in Terpland, a 45-minute drive might put the driver in a different galaxy.
I mentioned yesterday that the Spawn made her first visit to the MVA (Maryland’s version of the DMV, because that acronym seems to refer to the District, Maryland, and Virginia). As I said, the supervisor was quite nice, but there was an amusing sidelight to the whole business.
A state cop was there at the office, and was the first person to speak to Mrs. M and the Spawn. Mrs. M began, “My daughter is moving here from South Carolina, and –”
“Why? Why would you leave there to come here?”
The Spawn said, “I’m starting grad school at UMD, and –”
“I’ve been here for nearly twenty years,” the policeman said, “and I can hardly wait until my twenty is finished and I can leave, and go South.” He went on in that vein as he conducted the ladies to the supervisor. Mrs. M said, he just kept asking “Why would anyone choose to move here?”
I hope he’s kidding.
Well, I think I’ll wrap things up for the time being, but here’s a bit of music before I go. While lots of punk fans recognize the British band The Vibrators, there was a much more obscure band by that name a decade earlier. From Zebulon, KY (in Pike County, natch — just one county from where Mrs. M grew up), these Eastern KY boys (two of whom have been ID’d as Stevie Justice and Fonso Fields) did a free-form strip-mining of “Louie, Louie” and released it on their hometown Graco label in 1968, two years after the garage rock wave had crested. Some 51 years later, I share it with you. This is “Bad Girl”, as raw as a chunk of coal.
See you soon!