You think you’re alone on the highway. You’re sure of it -- not a soul in the rear view, not a glimmer on the horizon. Not even a billboard or bridge abutment.
You’ve been positively hectored by this thing all afternoon, this object hanging onto one hair in your nostril like some BB shaped fruit bat, but too many people were around every time you tried to deal with it. Blowing your nose didn’t help; that just exacerbated the presence of this thing.
Now is the time to act.
At last! You can, for lack of a more delicate way of putting this, finally start digging for silver in a gold mine. Soon, you are seriously mining with single minded intent, your index finger engaged nearly to the third joint.
Then out of the corner of your eye, you see her: the girl of your dreams. Cue the “I’m So Excited” tune from the movie “Vacation.”
But she’s not Christie Brinkley to your Chevy Chase. She’s passing you, a look of abject horror and disgust etched across her perfect features, or worse, she’s laughing hysterically as she shoots video from her iPhone, which is already uploading to YouTube even as you frantically attempt to hide your face and yank that augering digit from its grisly quest.
This is just another manifestation to Murphy’s Law, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” I refer to it as “Tatum’s Corollary: The number of beautiful women you will see on a deserted stretch of highway is directly proportional to how far your finger is up your nose.”
By now, you will understand that, given the generally horrific state of affairs in the world today, the purpose of this column is to one, avoid all such seriousness and two, squeeze in as many pop culture references and booger jokes in 650-800 words as will fit without being a complete listing of movie titles and script missives.
Now back to our topic.
Yes, being caught in some compromising situation was once traumatic for awhile. Fortunately, I later realized that we pretty people can get away with such things. It’s just one of those privileges we get because of the burden of beauty we must shoulder all our lives.
On the other hand, in looking back, I suppose it is utterly ludicrous to think a love connection might be made during rush hour traffic in the first place, despite the soulful yearnings expressed in such classics as “Strangers in the Night.” Yet for a number of years, it was of the utmost importance for me to project this aura of cool studliness from the driver’s seat -- even though in my case the driver’s seat was surrounded by the body of a Ford Festiva or worse, Sputnik the Wonder Sled, my hybrid Honda Civic, of which the words “rolling litter box nugget” didn’t even begin to scratch the surface in describing the contraption’s curb appeal or mechanical reliability.
There was no way, in anyone’s wildest, most bizarre hallucinations, Sputnik -- or any of the cars I owned between 1987 and 2000, for that matter -- could have been mistaken for, say, a Porsche gone to seed or a hip experimental urban vehicle.
Nonetheless, looking good behind the wheel -- indeed, in any and all situations -- was of paramount importance, and to be caught in the classic “Seinfeld” pick would have been cause to immediately commit roadside seppuku.
But such was the norm in big city living at the end of the last century. In fact, it seems like both sexes got into some odd behaviors during the 24/7 mating dance which was life as we knew it back around 1989. Women with those giant ’80s hairstyles and hoop earrings the size of hula hoops would prance into the health club thinking they weren’t going to sweat like Clydesdales during aerobics class. Guys in jams and wife beaters would amble through the grocery store right after a session at the gym the better to display the post-workout gun show.
The worst thing, of course, would be to discover some horrible faux pas later, such as your fly being open the entire time you were trolling the grocery store, or perhaps even sporting the classic tile comet on your shoe.
Once upon a time, these sorts of scenarios were the stuff of nightmares. Happily, I just don’t worry about it anymore, because I discovered a long time ago I don’t have to impress anybody, especially strangers on the highway or in the frozen foods section. I cheerfully wander the grocery store in a ratty T-shirt and frayed old ball cap pulled low over my eyes. I’m not even hung over -- I just didn’t feel the need to dress up for anything or anyone I might encounter in the produce section. I’ve also discovered that if I talk to myself a lot while rocking this particular look, most people won’t bother me. In fact, some will actually let me have the check-out line to myself.
What can I say -- it’s just one of those things we pretty people get to do.