The other day I was driving on a country road when I came across a road sign that said “Quiet Death In The Family.” I immediately started whispering forgetting that the sign wasn’t referring to the noise level inside of the car. My first thought was that Georgia is such a kind place to live that they post signs to help ease grief for people who have death in their family, that is I felt that way until I realized that there wasn’t a comma after quiet so maybe the sign was just notifying the public that someone died without a struggle. If this was the case I thought that maybe I should honk my car horn, throw confetti or cheer for the fact that at least someone died easy that day but felt that it might be a good idea to just drive on by this time until I was able to get a better understanding of what the sign meant.
Soon after we moved here my family and I all visited a doctor just for a well patient exam so that we could have a doctor for when we really were sick. For all of us the exam was routine until he got to the question, “Do any of you eat chalk?” “Say what”, I asked? (My youngest son had eaten a lot of things especially when he was a toddler including but not limited to my wife’s contact lenses, a toy soldier, dog food and more. In the interest of tactile learning he just might have tasted dirt but never chalk. As I think of it the only items my son would not eat if given the chance was fruit but I digress). No one and I mean no one in my family then or now has ever knowingly eaten chalk as far as my wife and I know. The doctor continued, “Well good, don’t start because if you eat chalk it thins your blood.” I asked,”Do you get a lot of folks eating chalk around here?” “Yep”, he said they make a regular party of it. I followed up with, “What does eating chalk do for them?” He said, “Not sure but what ever it is they sure do like doin it and they do it right regular.” I had to know, “Does it make them high,” I asked. “Not so’s you’d notice, some of these people act pretty high even when they ain’t.” I have not been sure of very many things in my life but I am as sure now as I was 10 years ago that there will never be a time when my family and I will feel the need to eat chalk. The doctor noticed our discomfort and tried to change the subject by asking, “So do you reckon you will stay here long?” I asked, “What’s a reckon?” For some reason he looked me up and down 3 or 4 times and stopped talking to me. Within minutes we were escorted out of the office by his nurse who said as we left, “Stay well” and I believe with all of my heart that she meant it.
When I lived in Southern California I learned to use my car horn to communicate with other drivers. For example a couple of quick beeps meant hey I am here in your blind spot so don’t hit me. One quick beep was a greeting. Several beeps with a head out of the side window with a huge grin meant want to go out?……………..well it could have meant that if even one girl would have stopped laughing at me long enough to get the message. A long heavy hand on the horn meant you butt head you almost hit me and so on. In Georgia a honk of any kind is not just an insult to the person you were honking at but to each of their ancestors and even a few who weren’t their ancestors like Stonewall Jackson but a single middle finger extended straight out while the other fingers are curved in towards the palm is more or less a greeting……………………..well more or less except that it means see ya you butthead I ain’t never gonna drive faster than 40 even when the signs say 65. I ain’t even 65 yet so I can’t go that fast. Ralph Nadar said “Unsafe at any speed.” about the Corvair. I have an idea that if he ever visited my world he would say the same thing about many of the drivers her abouts.