No Albatross For Me, Thank You

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I concur with Henry Higgins’s assessment of the male of our species, that by and large we are a marvelous sex. However, I will admit there is an unfortunate tendency among some men, a few, a small minority, occasionally, when confined for long periods of time with other men—in the waiting room of an automotive repair place, for example—to solve the problems of the world by pontificating at hapless strangers.

I spent an entire day last week at the Dodge dealer in the city nearest to me, about an hour’s drive away. An engine warning light keeps coming on telling me my highly sophisticated Cummins diesel clean air system isn’t as sophisticated or clean as it should be. This is the fourth time this has happened. The first three times I took the truck to another dealer, closer by, and they did their best, replacing more and more expensive parts of the system until the whole thing is now brand new, flawless, spotless, barely used, in fine working order, up-to-the-minute, spouting sparkling clean air. You could wrap your lips around my exhaust pipe and breathe deeply and cleanly. Except the damned light says you might want to abstain from that otherwise harmless amusement.

Service managers are relentlessly optimistic. They’re happy to rent you a car, if that’s how you choose to squander your money, but their basic attitude is always, “Two or three hours, four at the most.” So the unhappy customer waits and waits and waits and gets led on by empty promises—“I think we’ve got it fixed now. Just one last test to make sure.”—and then waits some more. And this brings out the worst, the nastiest, the most vicious, the most unattractive and unproductive side of the otherwise kind and sensible male of the species.

Instead of sitting quietly and reading his Kindle, or one of the local newspapers and many magazines provided for him by the Dodge dealer, this ugly tendency begins to manifest itself, and one ancient grey-beard male customer holds another, younger male customer, one of three, with his glittering eye, and makes him listen like a three years’ child.

“How about them Lakers?”

What I knew about basketball prior to yesterday could be summarized, in its entirety, with the basic rule that the team with the most points, or goals, or baskets, or whatever, wins. Beyond that, the subtleties of a game I have never played or cared about elude me.

But today, I can confidently tell you—whether you wish to hear it or not—that:

Coach Mike Brown is no Phil Jackson (I don’t think anybody could argue with that statement, no matter what it means)

Kobe Bryant has stopped hogging the ball and become a team player (This shows a fine generosity of spirit on Mr. Bryant’s part)

The whole team used to be made up of a bunch of goddamned prima donnas, but now they are finally working as a team (But if Mike Brown is the coach, wouldn’t that be a positive reflection on his… Oh, never mind)

Someone with the improbable name of Pau Gasol will absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, get traded (And if they can trade him for a truck with warning lights that work, it will be well worth it)

Even though the Lakers rank near the bottom of the league in offense and three-point shooting, they still might make it to the playoffs (Okie dokie; is that a good thing?)

No matter what anybody tells you, no matter what you read in the damn paper, no matter what you see on television, don’t you be fool enough to believe for one little moment that Jonny Flynn would be a good acquisition for the Lakers (I will refute it with every fiber of my being)

And the idea of recruiting point guard Rajon Rondo is…

Speaking of points, I had reached the point by this time where I was willing to buy this grey-beard loon any brand new Chrysler product he wanted when a loudspeaker saved me and he was called to the cashier’s window. A sadder and wiser man, I turned my Kindle back on.

Then a chair creaked next to me.

“How about that Obama?”

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