Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lessons My Son Learned at the Track (and other good parenting tips)

Yesterday, my son learned three important lessons about sport.

  1. Any sporting event can be turned into a social event when you spend more time in the parking lot outside the venue eating, drinking, and playing games than you do inside watching.
  2. A sporting event in which you are generally disinterested becomes all-consuming for two minutes when you have cold hard cash riding on it (pun intended).
  3. Mocking overdressed twenty-somethings as they stagger back to the parking lot, carrying their ties and stilettos, is a sport unto itself.

My Kentucky friends know all about Keeneland, but for those of you in places where thoroughbred horse racing is merely an interesting setting in a movie (Secretariat was filmed at Keeneland), let me enlighten you. We have two major tracks in Kentucky: Louisville's Churchill Downs (of Kentucky Derby fame) and Lexington's Keeneland. Keeneland is open year round for off-track betting, but they only hold races on site twice a year, a three week meet in the spring and another in the fall.

The Keeneland Fall Meet is in full swing. Because it is a limited engagement, people flock to the track in the thousands, and because many young Kentuckians fancy themselves members of the horsey set, they dress to the nines. Then, they get ground-level grandstand seats and drink themselves stupid. The real horsey set is up in the exclusive boxes and party rooms far removed from the unwashed masses.

Although I'm not a serious racing fan (could you tell?), going to Keeneland on a gorgeous October day is a good time. Yesterday, I was invited by my restaurateur friend, Mike, to his first annual Keeneland tailgate party. (We had several moments of debate as to whether something could be called an annual event until it's held for the second time a year later.) Our kids are all good friends, so they came as well, and it was the first time for several of them, including my younger son.

A young man's first trip to the track is nothing if not educational.

Pam's husband, Mike B., walked him through the betting process. He explained how the odds work and how you determine the payoff on a bet. I worried for a moment, and then shrugged it off as a math lesson. My son listened intently, asked a few pertinent questions, and then made his pick...based solely on the name of the horse (which honestly, is how I pick my Derby horse every year). He liked Cajun Pride, and so did I...I think I might have read a romance novel with that name.

I placed a $2 bet for Cajun Pride to win in the fifth and gave my son the ticket. We made our way through the crush in the grandstands to get as close to the rail as we could. The horses are beautiful, and I like to be close enough to hear the pounding of the hooves when they pass.

Again...educational. By the fifth race, the horsey set wannabes had consumed enough beer and Kentucky bourbon to throw conventional standards of appropriate behavior out the window. It's a bit like a frat party with horses and designer clothes. In true sixteen year-old fashion, my son thought it was hilarious.

His attention was diverted by the horses and their jockeys bedecked in their racing silks parading down the track and being loaded into the gates. In spite of my general disinterest in racing, that part is pretty cool. As is that moment when the bell rings, the gates open, and the horses charge down the track. Cajun Pride took the lead with authority. My son found himself screaming right along with the inebriated folk as we watched our horse barrel around the first turn and down the backstretch. Unfortunately, I knew what was going to happen. Very few horses have the endurance to lead wire to wire, and poor ole Cajun Pride was no exception.

Cajun Pride faded in the final turn and came in fourth. Pam's pick, Sudden War, crossed the line first, netting her a whopping $3.80 on a $2 bet. My son looked around, saw the well-heeled drunks throwing their tickets on the ground, and followed suit. It was the only bet we made all day, and we were both fine with that. Another lesson learned.

Our tailgate was set up just outside the rail on the final turn, and we watched the rest of the races from that more peaceful vantage point. The kids played corn hole and tossed a ball around, and the adults kicked back and enjoyed the incredible fall day. Mike worked magic on three small grills, and we feasted on clams, shrimp skewers, rack of lamb, and filet mignon. My educational moment was realizing one should always take a bonafide chef to a tailgate party.

The day wound down with the now disheveled, but still overdressed kids returning to the parking lot. I pointed out a guy in a shirt and tie standing in the bed of his pick-up and attempting to swing from a tree limb to my son.

"You never, ever want to be that guy."

The fellow's friends were trying to coax him into the truck so they could leave. My son pointed at them.

"I never want to be those guys either. I'd wait til he was hanging from the limb and drive off."

I think his friends were contemplating doing just that. Luckily, Security came along, and the guy changed his tune and got in the truck.

So in addition to the aforementioned lessons about sport, my son learned some life lessons as well.

  1. Unless you have been invited to the horsey set's private boxes, you should wear comfortable clothing to the track. Corn hole is difficult in stilettos and you don't have to dry clean beer stains out of blue jeans.
  2. You might as well bet the horse with the cool name because the payout on the favorite sucks.
  3. If you plan to act like an idiot, make sure your friends really like you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Smart People Rule the World

I had a head-spinning, fly-completely-off-the-rails moment in my classroom yesterday.

Not because students were misbehaving. No...the students in that class are awesome kids. I went berserk because more than half of the students in the class said they don't think of themselves as "smart people." Then, they went further and said they don't want to be labeled as "smart people." It's just not cool.

This from advanced English students...pre-AP kids who jumped through rigorous hoops to be in the who are reading and discussing Plato's Republic.

Are you kidding me? Are you FREAKING kidding me?

Let me take a few deep breaths and back up.

As I said, we are reading Plato. After each reading assignment, I prepare three or four questions that serve to illuminate the reading and bring the concepts into the 21st century. I lob those questions into my classroom like conversational grenades. These kids are tremendous readers and thinkers, and they lob their responses right back at me. The discussion is always vigorous, and one of my goals is to teach them how to listen to a different point of view and disagree respectfully (a lost art these days).

So yesterday, we reached the section in which Socrates says that philosophers should be kings. The first grenade I tossed out there was this: Should the smartest people in a group or community be the leaders? Turns out that question wasn't a grenade. It was a thermonuclear weapon of mass destruction.

Overwhelmingly, the kids said no, the smartest people shouldn't necessarily be the leaders of any given group or community. I pointed out that a room full of smart people were arguing against smart people being in charge. That's when they started denying being smart.

"Oh, Ms. Owens, there's lots of people smarter than us."

"We're not really that smart."

"I don't think of myself as a smart person."

WTF? My goal of teaching respectful disagreement went out my nonexistent window, and I flipped.

"What do you mean you don't think of yourself as a smart person?"

I heard myself getting loud, and I knew my tone had changed from calm facilitation to righteous indignation.

"It's not cool to be smart."

"Says who!?!"

Shrugs all around. "You know...everybody."

"Oh. Everybody. Of course. Everybody says it." we were firmly in the land of derisive sarcasm.

"I've got news for Everybody. Everybody is going to wake up when he graduates from high school and realize he needs the smart people. Everybody is going to need a smart person when he gets sick. Everybody is going to show up in a smart person's office with his hat in his hands when he needs legal help. Everybody is going to be a slave to the next must-have gadget that a smart person designed. Everybody is going to be punching the clock in a company a smart person runs. Everybody is going to realize that he is just a cog in a big machine that has a smart person at the controls."

I think I might have slammed my copy of Plato on a kid's desk at this point.

"Or even worse...maybe Everybody will never figure it out. Maybe he'll just be an ineffectual, frustrated underachiever who stays stuck in a rut his whole life and never figures out why he's so unhappy. Or he'll find a scapegoat to blame for his stupid choices...the government, his boss, his teachers...and the BEST part...he won't even be cool anymore. Because while Everybody has power in the halls of a high school where he preys on the inherent insecurity of his fellow students, once he graduates, he realizes the smart people have moved on. They are doing important smart people things, and he is nothing more than a dim, unpleasant memory."

A moment of silence descended when I stopped to breathe. I knew my blood pressure was up because I could feel my pulse in my forehead.

The kid sitting right in front of me said, "You really don't like stupid people, do you Ms. Owens?"

The class erupted in laughter, and so did I. The tension was broken, and I was able to answer his question like a reasonable person.

"I have no problem with people who are ignorant because they haven't been taught yet. I'm a teacher. That's what I do. My problem is with people who not only choose to remain ignorant, but who revel in their ignorance...wear it like a badge of honor."

The dumbass has become a staple of American TV and movies. Watch one episode of The Jersey Shore, and you'll believe with certainty we are doomed. Really. Is it any wonder kids think stupid is cool? But I didn't say that to my class.

I told them to be happy they could be counted among the smart people. I told them to believe it and to own it. Philosophers might not be kings, but smart people are captains of industry. The big problems our country faces will be solved by smart people, not pundits, talking heads, or self-serving politicians. Smart people are doing all the work that truly matters.

Like it or not, smart people rule the world.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Music? No Thanks.

In my first piece of posted fiction, I imagined a scenario in which music is unwittingly traded away by my protagonist. I called it horror because a life without music sounds pretty darn horrible to me. It got me thinking about what I would lose if I made that bargain.

Without music, I would not have sung Eminem's "Lose Yourself" with one of my former students at a karaoke party last week. He's all grown up now, a college graduate and contributing member of society (Yeah, I've been teaching that long), but there was definitely an "Oh, Snap!" moment when I agreed to be his hype, woman on stage. How many people get to rap in public with their ninth grade English teacher? The crowd, of course, went, Chad, Eminem...why wouldn't they?

A high moment. A good night. Music was at the center of it.

Without music, I would not be addicted to working out. I would still be carrying around extra pounds and huffing and puffing when I climbed more than one flight of stairs. Jazzercise is exercise choreographed to music, and I love it. Most of the time it feels more like fun than work, and when it does get tough, I sing to distract myself from the pain. Subsequently, I know every word to Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone".

Sometimes, I sing for the sheer joy of endorphins kicking and oxygen hitting my brain like a drug. And that's my excuse for knowing every word to Christina's "Candyman." Why wouldn't you want to know lyrics that include "He's a one stop shop. He makes my cherry pop?"I like singing along to that one because the music sounds so 1940s wholesome, and the lyrics are...not.

I've discovered new songs I love at Jazzercise....Madonna's newer stuff, Melanie Fiona's "Bang Bang," Idina Menzel's "I Stand," One Eskimo's "Kandi"...and so on and so on. Today, we did new routines to covers of two old songs. LeAnn Rimes' version of "Swingin" is fun. The remake of Jefferson Airplane's "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" is strange. The link is to the original. Some songs should just be left alone.

Without music, sports would lose something. "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Back in Black" will always make me think about football. Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" came out one summer when I was driving Eldest all over the state to baseball games, so it's a baseball song in my head.

Bruce and his colleagues have XM radio in the football offices. Not surprisingly, they listen to the headbanger channel on game day. What did surprise me (and cracked me up) was finding out they listen to the reggae channel during the week. According to Bruce, the Jamaican vibe chills everybody out. Whatever works, right?

Without music, driving wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Who among us doesn't like to roll down the windows and crank the stereo on a beautiful sunny day. I tested the speakers on my new car today with the Foo Fighters' "Let it Die." While not on par with my son's massive subs, I found them sufficient to my needs. :)

Ironically, the one thing I cannot do to music is write. I follow many writers who say they use music as a way into their stories. I find that music almost always pulls me out of my story. The story of the song is usually pervasive enough that it interferes with the plot thread in my head. I do use music during non-writing activities to get me started when I sit down later to write. A song can solidify a character in my head or help me establish the mood of a scene. So without music, my writing would suffer.

I can think of situations where I might be tempted to make a deal with Erebus. To magically attain those things that seem very far out of reach, I might give up something. The problem with those deals is that you always lose something precious. In a classic deal with the devil, you lose your soul. Losing music might seem tame by comparison, but I wonder. What kind of soul would you have without it?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Something Gained. Something Lost.

This is a first for me. I've never posted my fiction on the blog, mostly because I don't tend to write short. I write long, and posting even bits and pieces of my novels would diminish their chances of being published traditionally. I like long story arcs and rich character development. Writing short stories is about packing a lot of story and character into just a few words. What follows is just under 2k words. By contrast, my agented novel is 105k.

I'm a romance writer, but this is a horror story inspired by a quote from
The Merchant of Venice that popped up on my iPhone Shakespeare quote of the day app. Sooooo...I'm posting my first fiction in a genre I don't write and a form I don't write. What could possibly be wrong with that? :)


Something Gained. Something Lost.

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything, but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.” ~~Terry Pratchett

A shadow flitted across Mina’s peripheral vision, but when she turned her head, nothing was there. She peered out from her hiding place. Traffic was sparse, but a kaleidoscope of light strobed down the block. Club-goers milled outside the entrance.

In between, darkness wove a pattern around a pair of streetlights. It filled the space she occupied, surrounding her. When she had ducked into the recess just a few minutes earlier, the darkness had seemed welcoming, an ally. Now, it felt heavy.

As if fueled by her fearful thoughts, the darkness grew deeper, suffocating her, suffocating the sounds of the city. She imagined herself underwater as even the pounding bass from the nearby club was silenced. A chill worked its way down her back, and she pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders. It wasn’t much help.

She dropped her cigarette, stepped on it, and quickly emerged from the recessed entryway of the closed shop…the same secondhand shop in which she’d found the cute little bolero jacket. She smiled ruefully.

Should have bought the leather bomber. Would’ve been warmer.

Her heels clicked on the concrete in time to the steady thump escaping the club down the street. She reached into her bag and pulled out a stick of gum.

Or maybe I should just quit smoking.

She followed the gum with a small bottle and spritzed a light perfume over her clothes and into her hair. Jasmine and sandalwood.

Jack loved it. To date, she had been stealthy enough that he hadn’t noticed it masked Eau de Marlboro Light. After three dates, four counting tonight, she was getting dangerously close to lying to a guy that had potential long-term written all over him.

He’s never technically asked if I smoked.

She rolled her eyes. Even she wasn’t buying that crap. Inventing a phone call and sneaking out to smoke was not the way to start an honest relationship.

She fumbled the perfume bottle while putting it away, and ended up dumping half the contents of her bag into the street.


Her voice was strangely muted, and she looked around for the first time since leaving her hiding place. The street was empty. The lights still strobed outside the club, but everyone had gone inside. Not a single car moved up or down the long stretch of asphalt.

Mina knelt down nervously and threw her stuff back into her bag. She felt around for stray items she might have missed. A hand closed over hers, and she rocked back on her heels, then fell on her ass with a shriek.

“I’m sorry.” The voice was behind her. “I did not mean to startle you. I saw you drop your things, and I wished to assist you.”

She scrambled to her feet and backed away from the hand at her elbow offering to help. Caught between the two streetlights, those golden pools of light were miles away.

She turned on her heel, heart pounding, to get a look at her Good Samaritan. The darkness was so thick, she could only see his silhouette. He reached out, and she instinctively backed away.

“I believe this belongs to you.”

Her cell phone lay in his outstretched hand. She snatched it up without regard to good manners and found it in two pieces.

“The battery fell out when it hit the ground.”

His accent was thick and unfamiliar.

“Thank you.” Her own voice sounded strange, like she had cotton in her ears.

Her fingers were thick and uncoordinated as she forced the battery back into place.

“Why were you hiding in the dark?”

She looked up sharply. “I wasn’t hiding.”

She couldn’t make out the features of his face, but she felt his amusement, heard it in his voice. “Why, then, did you seek shelter in the darkness?”

He had obviously seen her sneak out of the recessed doorway. Realizing he had been watching her, a new frisson of fear kicked her pulse higher.

“I stepped out of the club for a smoke.”

“You walked all the way down the block to smoke?”

Adrenaline already poured through her, and fear morphed into anger.

“Yes, and I don’t think it’s any of your business.”

She turned and stalked toward the club, toward the streetlight, toward that golden pool that seemed to get farther away with every stride. He fell in step beside her, a shadow superimposed on the darkness.

“Smoking is a common habit. Why are you ashamed?”

“I’m not ashamed.”

“You hide to smoke. You mask the scent.” He shrugged. “You are ashamed.”

Mina whirled to face him. “I’m with this guy, okay? And he doesn’t approve, and I haven’t figured out how to tell him or even better, how to quit.” she crossed her arms. “So there it is, Mr. Nosy. Happy?”

Mina leaned in, trying to see his face. His hair was shoulder-length, and judging by its silhouette, unkempt, ala Kurt Cobain. The contour of his jaw line suggested he was clean shaven, and the sudden flash of white teeth suggested he was smiling. Beyond that, she couldn’t see a thing.

“Yes. I am happy. Thank you.”

She shook her head, convinced he was crazy, but harmless. If he was going to hurt her, he would have done it already. He had given her phone back and watched her replace the battery.

She turned once again toward the strobing lights of the club.

“Would you like to quit?”



“Well, yeah.”

Her eye roll was evident in her tone.

“I can help you.”

She stopped again and sighed. “I tried the gum. Nothing. I tried the patch. Smoked while I was wearing it and got so dizzy, I passed out. I even tried hypnosis from a guy doing a demonstration at the mall. Nada.”

His voice grew deeper and softer, as if he didn’t want to disturb the silence. Almost hypnotic. More so than the guy at the mall anyway, and Mina smiled.

“If you will agree to payment terms, you will be cured before you walk back inside.” He nodded toward the club.

Mina threw her head back and laughed. “Let me guess. You came out of a magic lamp?”

“I do not grant wishes. I make bargains.”

His voice held no humor, and her amusement faded as well.

“And I don’t make deals with the devil. Sorry.”

“I am not the devil.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Out loud, she said, “Who exactly are you?”


The R trilled exotically off his tongue, and Mina shivered. She had never heard the name before.

“Ariboos?” she repeated, mimicking his pronunciation.

“You sought shelter in the darkness, and the darkness can provide…for a price”

“Erebus,” she repeated again, this time with recognition. She raised her eyebrows. “You’re the god of darkness?”

“I am the darkness.”

Something in his tone stifled her laugh. He believed what he was saying, and they were still alone on a dark street. Probably best to play along.

“Okay…and you’ll cure my smoking…in return for what?”

“Something you have temporarily lost in this time you spent with me.”

Fear again. This guy was crazy. What had he done? Who had he hurt?

Seeming to read her mind, he continued, “What you have lost you carry with you all the time. It affects only you. You gain something. You lose something.”

“And you’re not going to tell me what it is before I agree to it?” She crossed her arms. “I would be stupid to make that bargain.”

“You would give up something you have lost and have not even noticed.” His voice dropped, hypnotic again. “And look at what you will gain. You will no longer have to sneak away from this man to do something you do not enjoy.”

She hated smoking. Even worse, she hated lying about smoking. Jack was a great guy…funny, smart, hot as hell. Everything she wanted, and she knew, she just instinctively knew that smoking would be a deal-breaker for him.

She stared at the pulsing lights of the club, then shrugged. This guy was full of crap anyway. She felt exactly the same as she did when she snuck out into the cold ten minutes ago. Nothing was different. What did she have to lose?

“Okay, Erebus.” She grinned when she said his name. “You have a deal.”

“You must be sure, Mina. Once the bargain is struck, it cannot be undone.”

Her name sounded foreign on his lips, and her grin faded. She peered into the dark, suddenly desperate to see his face. A man-shaped ink blot stood in front of her. Only his unkempt hair blowing in the wind gave him depth. She reached out to touch him, to assure herself he was real and solid. He reached out simultaneously and grasped her hand.

“Do we have a bargain?”

His hand was warm and strong, and her childish fear evanesced.

No guts, no glory…

“Yes. We have a deal.”

She saw a flash of white, and his smile made her shiver.

“What was yours is now mine. What you wished to lose is gone. Goodbye, Mina.”

A horn blared, and Mina jumped out of the way of a city bus she hadn’t seen coming.

“Damn, buddy! Slow down!” She looked around. “You okay, Erebus?”

She turned in a circle.


She was standing alone on the street. Well, not entirely alone. There were people outside the club again. Traffic moved along briskly, and she hustled over to the sidewalk.

She stopped short of the streetlight. The pool of light had lost it’s golden quality, only marginally brighter now than the street around it. The suffocating darkness was gone, almost as if a blanket had been lifted off the block.

The light did not cheer Mina. Erebus’ parting words still rang in her ears. Everything about them was wrong. Even the way he said her name was wrong with his emphasis on the second syllable.

Bile rose in her throat.

When did I tell him my name?

Never. She had never told him. She had a hard and fast policy regarding her name. She only gave it to a man after she decided she liked him. She had disliked Erebus from the moment she met him.

She stumbled through a small group of smokers outside the doors of the club, breathing in a lungful of secondhand smoke as she passed. She coughed until she gagged and, in that moment, knew she would never smoke again.

No joy came with that knowledge. Dread lay on her chest like a lead weight.

The club was crowded, more so now than when she stepped out. The lights pulsed and strobed wildly, rhythmically. She stopped just inside the entrance.

People leaned in close and shouted at each other. Couples gyrated wildly on the dance floor, grinding against each other in time to the pulsing lights.

Mina heard their shouted conversations, felt the vibration of the bass in sync with the lights, and Erebus’ words echoed in the awful accompanying silence.

You gain something. You lose something.

The music was gone.

“The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. The motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted.”
~~William Shakespeare

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Confessions of a Gas Guzzler

Today, I'm coming clean. I'm confessing my environmental sins in the hopes of virtual absolution from my friends and blog readers, but first.....

Like any legitimate media outlet (grin), I have a responsibility to correct errors in reporting. In my last blog post, Horses, International Guests, and ...Buffalo, I reported that Henry the buffalo would jump through a ring of fire. In fact, the buffalo's name is Harvey Wallbanger.

Seriously. I couldn't make that up if I tried.

My friends who have paid to see Harvey say he is massive and a sight to behold. I'll just have to take their word for it. I find the whole thing mildly disturbing, and my conscience won't allow me to fork over the money to see poor old, flammable Harvey driven through that ring of fire.

And yes...I'm stalling. My conscience is a fickle thing, especially as it relates to environmental issues, but I'm here today as the former owner of a gas guzzler, a big honkin' SUV that left a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint. I'm trying to reform, to get with the program, to do my part to avoid environmental apocalypse, but the first step to overcoming an addiction is to admit you have it, right? So, here goes.

Hi. I'm Kathy, and I liked my big, wasteful, gas-guzzling SUV.

Okay...I loved it. I really, really loved it. Like anyone who's ever had an unhealthy guilty pleasure, I knew I was doing wrong by the planet. I knew even when I was hauling my boys and their friends and their baseball bags and shoulder pads that we could have crammed everyone into an environmentally friendly tin can, but I just didn't want to.

My dad has a running beef with women who drive SUVs. "These damn women in their SUVS! They drive right up on you...try to intimidate you!"

I hate to admit it, but OH MY GOD, he's totally right! I felt powerful when I drove my SUV. When I stepped on the gas, that big V-8 roared, and I passed everyone who got in my way. If I couldn't pass them, I put the nose of that monster right on their bumper, and they got the hell out of my way.

I became this whole other person when I drove the vehicle Bruce affectionately called Moby Dick. Yes, it was white, and it was big. The only thing bigger available to civilians might be a Hummer.

When my friend Linda climbed into it once, she ranted, "Getting into this car is like climbing *@#! Mount Everest. You need a *@#! Sherpa to get in the thing."

I've carried as many as eight teenage boys at a time, hauled furniture, lumber, six people and luggage, a lab-sized dog crate complete with 100lb lab, anything big my friends needed moved from point A to point B. I was the go-to gal for road trips...or trips across town for lunch. Wherever we were going, we fit in my big, gas guzzling SUV.

But those days are over.

My massive, hairy Sasquatch carbon footprint has been replaced with something smaller, not dainty like a ballet slipper or sexy like a stiletto pump...more like a sturdy hiking shoe. I couldn't go cold turkey, and downsize all the way to a car, so I'm still driving an SUV...a small 4-passenger baby SUV.

I'm taking deep breaths and trying to adjust.

I'm still getting used to looking up at drive-thru windows, and when I parked next to a full-sized pickup, I was annoyed that I couldn't see over it. It's strange to step out of my vehicle and have my foot touch the ground instead of the running board.

Yes, it's fuel efficient. I'm sure I'll be happy the first time I fill it up and don't spend $60. (I know...ridiculous) And I do like how agile the thing feels. My old SUV was powerful, but not particularly aerodynamic. Lumbering might even be a reasonable descriptor. Instead of bullying my way through traffic, maybe I'll just ninja through it.

The best part of my new car is the guilt I'm shedding. Not only the environmental guilt I felt every time I pulled up next to a Prius (and quickly got over when I blew past it), but the guilt of driving a big, expensive car while Bruce drove a POS, mostly without complaint.

He has a sleek new Camry, complete with Satellite radio and sunroof. It's nice, but I have to admit to feeling twitchy when he suggested switching cars for the day so we could each try out the other's car.

There's only so much change this recovering gas guzzler can handle.