25 June 2016

"He's just not right. Now it's bridges." It's another installment in the "Man, I'm glad I'm not him" series!

The Sunshine Skyway - Tampa / St. Pete
 For any of you that have read more than one post here in the Den, there's a lot you can learn. This is not because I'm a fount of wisdom or a member of MENSA. I am neither. Read here and learn from my mistakes. I've even dedicated a series here to those key learning opportunities (you're welcome).

The Jamestown Verrazano near Newport, RI
In my zeal to let you learn from my mistakes, I've also let you know how I think and what makes me tick or ticks me off. So not only do you get to learn from my mistakes, you get to say, "Man, I'm glad I'm not him!" After reading what follows, I suspect you'll be saying exactly that.

The Claiborn Pell near Newport, RI
Let me tell you about my mild case of, wait for it, gephyrophobia. That's fear of bridges, people. Now, as I said, mine's a mild one and I blame it squarely on 1970's disaster films (Earthquake! I'm calling you out!) and the I15 flyover to Satan's Favorite Freeway, the westbound I91 in Corona, CA. For five years, I was on that overpass every weekday morning. I typically was sitting on its highest point for 10 - 15 minutes depending on how backed up things were at 530AM (because SoCal traffic is awesome!). As a result, I had my earthquake escape plan because there was no way I was pancaking to the earth during the Big One. No way was I going out in my beater commuter Camry car either. In my head, each of my myriad escape plans was more perfect than the next. Let me assure you, each one was doomed to failure had the Big One ever gone down. I was never at ease on those mornings on that stupid bridge and it was there where the seeds of gephyrophobia were set.

Fast forward to my trip to America's penal colony, Florida, recently to see CAL. Our trek from Tampa to Miami took us over the Sunshine Skyway. This did not please me one bit. If you are not familiar with its history, spoiler alert - it's not pleasant. In 1980, a cargo ship hit it, causing a partial collapse sending 35 people to their deaths. Seeing it in the distance that Friday afternoon was disconcerting. As I recall I went into hyperdrive talking mode as we crossed the span. I really hope CAL didn't notice me rubbing my thumb and forefinger like there was no tomorrow (Hello, coping mechanism!).

Then there was a twofer today. The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I decided to go down to Newport, RI for the day. So did every other person from Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey based on the sweaty hordes assembled there. But I digress. Traveling from our part of Connecticutistan into Newport allows us the joy of crossing the Jamestown Verrazano and Claibon Pell (on another note, why does that name make me think of Foghorn Leghorn?) bridges in fairly quick succession. As we approached the first, I uttered my mantra, 'I hate bridges' and began the rubbing of my thumb and forefinger and I didn't stop until we were across both.

With that over, we had a great time in Newport, except for the parking. Don't get me started. We wound up walking the Cliff Walk and it was spectacular. We saw a few little summer getaway houses like this:

Short sale, anyone? Let's go halfsies!
And we soaked up scenery like this:

We walked close to nine miles throughout the course of the day there, which ended at a burger dive populated by, I kid you not, Johnny Depp impersonators channeling Captain Jack Sparrow. Sufficiently sated and with my arches screaming, we headed home. This of course meant traversing my two new favorite bridges. The first was the Foghorn, I mean Claiborn Pell. As we proceeded up the span in the inside lane, we noticed the jagweed in a car several lengths ahead of us was weaving precariously into the other lane. The car ahead of us in our lane was forced to lay on the brakes and the horn simultaneously. Already just a little anxious (thumb and forefinger rubbing), this tool was not going to make things any easier. As we got closer, it became obvious why. This joker was filming his drive across the bridge, left arm out the open window with his phone out, capturing it all. He was veering into our lane because, well, he was an idiot. I should point out that we were in my rather large and environmentally deleterious Yukon. He was in a tiny, nondescript Korean car. Sure enough, he veered into our lane. At that point, it was game on and hasta luego, gephyrophobia! I laid on the horn and because of the size of my Yukon, I blocked his view. He had the testicular fortitude to start screaming that his view was blocked - all at 40 plus miles an hour, mind you. While we had not reached the bridge's peak height of 215 feet, we were close. I'd be lying if I did not quickly think how with one quick jab of my steering wheel to the right, he and his tiny sedan would be sailing into the water and there'd not be a scratch on my Yukon. Suffice to say, I decided to linger and block his view a little more before speeding away. As I glanced in my rear view mirror, he did the same thing to the driver behind me. She laid into him with her horn, and since she was in a convertible, gave him a visual sign of her displeasure with his utter obnoxiousness. Good for her.

If nothing else, that little encounter helped me forget about the whole bridge issue. Like I said, my case, based wholly on a diagnosis provided by Wikipedia, is mild if anything at all. So what have we learned today? Well, clearly, if your take away is 'Man, I'm not glad I'm not him with this whole bridge thing,' then my work here is done. More importantly, if your take away is 'Man, I'm not using Wikipedia to self-diagnose anything,' then I've really done something good today. You're welcome.

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