To quote Marlon Brando's character in "Apocalypse Now," "The horror! The horror!"
No, I have not endured the insanity of an ill-conceived invasion of a foreign country facilitated by a deliberate misinformation campaign conducted by the American government. Those old enough to remember Vietnam recall how this unwarranted and unjustified aggression in turn led to violent political divisiveness in our country, the unnecessary destruction of a foreign country and its people, and, by virtue of conducting the entire debacle without an exit strategy, a humiliating culmination to the whole mad exercise.
No, thank goodness my travail had nothing to do with such lunacy. Nobody's stupid enough to make the same mistake twice.
However, eclipsed in negativity only by the megalomaniacal magnitude of the Vietnam fiasco was my Saturday sojourn to the McDonough Radio Shack.
Ordinarily on weekends I never leave my home, my safe harbor from the storm, the estate no doubt referred to in magazines such as Town & Country and Architectural Digest as "Crabgrass." But I messed up big time the night before.
Baby's request was simple: "Stop by the grocery store on your way home and pick up some Half & Half."
To make matters worse, she awoke before me Saturday and set out to retrieve the bovine nectar afore I could launch a salvo of absolution-oriented entreaties: "Please, Baby!" I would have pleaded were I only awake. "I'd be happy to go at the crack of dawn, ecstatic!"
But such was not to be. No, she went and though nothing was said I knew I had accumulated debt faster than the United States under the reign of George II.
So it was that later that very day I found myself on the roof cleaning the gutters even though I had already done so once this year. "Nobody knows the trouble I seen?"
But at least I didn't have to venture beyond Crabgrass. Or so I thought.
"Don't forget you're making the potato salad," said the Little Ms. "You're going to need to get some bacon."
(It's a scrumptious recipe: Steamed cubes of white and sweet potatoes mixed with thin slices of celery, six slices of chopped, fried bacon, and a homemade mayonnaise consisting of an egg, freshly grated lime rind, freshly ground white pepper, salt, a bit of lime juice, a bit of vinegar, a bit of honey, and olive oil. Don't ask for the specifics, an old Gypsy woman whispered the recipe to me with her dying breath and swore me to secrecy.)
"Well," said I, "As long as I'm out I'll stop by the Radio Shack and pick up some 75 ohm cable."
What was I thinking?! Had I taken leave of my senses? Did the idea find its genesis in Beelzebub's caprice or was Mr. Big Stuff testing me as He had Job so many years before?
I took the 56 back roads that enable long-time McDonough-ites to avoid the terrors of the Square and figured I was home free. Now that they've finished the intersection at Exit 71 (or whatever it's called now) all I had to survive was exiting the Home Depot parking lot and it would be down hill all the way home.
But wait!!! My heart sunk, my head spun, and I knew no fate could be worse than what lay before me. The traffic was backed up from the Square to Interstate 75. Arrgh!
"No problema" said Little Mr. Think Outside the Box that dwells in that same disembodied nether zone between my ears that ordinarily spends every waking moment (and a substantial amount of REM sleep) imagining me as the trainer for the Hawaiian Tropic girls. (Ordinarily a feminist, I feel it gratuitous to refer to these celebrations of Nature's bounty as women.) "Just hop on the expressway and head South an exit or two."
Yikes and double yikes! I-75 was at a standstill heading both North and South.
Trapped like a rat but feverishly attempting to find a solution, any solution out of this mess I figured I'd head west. No go. It looked like a NASCAR race bedeviled by yet another of their interminable caution flags. Brightly colored family-mobiles lined up bumper to bumper from Home Depot to (it seemed) the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"I'm doomed!" cried I. "Will I ever see my loved one again? Will I ever eat again, make another ?pit stop,' get out of these increasingly sweaty clothes?"
(It's one thing to chortle and guffaw when stuck in traffic next to a 450 horsepower turbo Porche if you're in an air-conditioned family-mobile. It's quite another when you're sitting atop an air-cooled 1.3 liter Harley engine in the heat of summer.)
The handwriting was on the wall: my time had expired and I was paying the price for having had too much fun. I was destined to spend eternity in traffic hell.
The horror! The horror!
R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at email@example.com.