Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Piper (with Diapers?)

Now, I know that New Jersey, as far as bizarre, inexplicable human behavior is concerned, does not compare to Thailand. I've been living outside of Newark for almost half a year now, and I have yet to dine with a corpse, be warned against answering phone calls from the murderous blood telephone, or attend a water buffalo fashion show/Isuzu-sponsored cockfight. That said, it is not as though New Jersey does not have its own very specific form of extraterrestrial individual, who, at the risk of elitism, exists in his own bubble of fashion sense and tact and with his own peculiar idea of what is and is not acceptable to say to waitresses.

The other day, though, driving on one of New Jersey's 97,547 local highways, I saw something that made me pause and just, just wonder, as I so often did in Chiang Mai. Generally when I notice a strange Jerseyite, it is because they are screaming something about the fucking New York fucking Giants (fuck!) at a bar or nightclub or playground; but this time, it was just the flash in my eye of a man that brings me here: (After the "Jump")

Outside of Princeton on Wednesday, I saw an old man with terrific jowls driving a Dodge Caravan minivan while smoking a pipe. Here is an artist's rendering:

 Now, I've seen old men driving minivans before (what better way to transport your grandchildren while momma and poppa have a romantic Friday night watching Unstoppable twice and then eating some yogurt?). And I've seen old men smoke a pipe while driving before (what better way to...well, there are lots of better ways to smoke while driving. But some old men like pipes, just like some young men like egg nog martinis).

And though I've seen these two rather common occurrences separately, I haven't ever seen an old man smoking a pipe while driving a minivan. What a fantastic combination this is! Think of the delightful errands this old man with the pipe can do in his minivan:

-Solving a mystery about a precious stolen armoire after dropping Jake and Brandon off at lacrosse practice
-Giving the keynote lecture at a Brandy Tasters convention while Brandon and Jake watch Mega-Man cartoons in the car
 -Being a British person while also having young children named Brandon, Jake, Brake, Jandon, Pilot Inspektor, etc. etc.

...and so, so many more.

By the way, if I told you that I saw an pipe-smoking van driver, would you ever have picture a be-jowled old geezer with a Sherlock Holmes pipe in a wood-sided soccer mom van? 

Oh, look not at the jowls, 
But look at the man,
Though wise like the owls,
He bought an old van.

While driving around
On the 1 to the Pike,
He gruffs and he growls
And puffs on his pipe.

But who is this chap
And who is his wife?
Who are his kids?
And what is his life?

Does he ever use
His seven back seats?
To transport young dudes
To seven swim meets?

And why, we must ask,
(As all men must ask)
The Yanks
Lose this year?

--A.E. Houseman, 1902

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