Saturday, February 04, 2006

Might As Well Face It, We're Addicted To Oil

I wish I could tell you I saw the State of the Union address, but at that hour Hubby and I are completely absorbed in a routine that involves brushing teeth, donning PJs and reading bedtime stories. On top of all that, we have kids, too! So my impression of the president’s State of the Union speech is based purely on hearsay. If I've misunderstood anything I blame it entirely on the CEO of the Sago mine, who was supposed to be transmitting the information to me via tin cans and a string. But the main point came through loud and clear. We Americans are a bunch of staggering, out-of-control oil addicts! The president didn’t mention the part about assaulting other nations to ensure we could continue getting our fix. That’s no doubt due to our “democracy addiction.” In the State of the Union Address the president informed us we are ADDICTED to oil. Thank you, touchy-feely speechwriters, for not just saying we need the stuff to run our cars. I have not heard, at this point, if the president expects us as a nation to quit cold turkey, attempt a 12-step program, or if we're about to be tossed into the earthly gutter to beg foreign countries for euros "to buy a cup of coffee" (while we sneak to the local gas station to fill up our SUVs). The thing is, in order to solve our problem, don't we need to hit "rock bottom?" Or could we get by with an intervention of some kind? Personally I don't care to call it an addiction. I prefer to think of it as a gas guzzling problem. Sure, we like to gas up, but I can switch to my bike anytime! Let's take a look at the main warning signs of addiction and see how we U.S. motorists stack up. I am taking the liberty of answering for the majority of Americans because I didn’t have time to call or poll. I feel I am no more than one or two standard deviations away from being “average” so this is perfectly acceptable. 1) Does it take more gas to make you feel “full” than it used to? Answer: Yes. Especially after we bought our full-sized van. 2) Do you ever use more gas than you intended to? Answer: Definitely! Every time I get stuck in traffic, accelerate to pass Sunday drivers so fast that their wigs blow off, or have to go back to the store yet again for that one critical item such as my son needs Saltines for some classroom topography project. 3) Do you have “blackouts,” or “lose time” after using a lot of gas? Answer: Not sure about the blackouts, unless you’re referring to the time we left the door open all night and then couldn’t start the van the next day. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and another 25 percent driving. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for watching State of the Union speeches or buying solar panels for the roof. 4) Do you ever use gas in the morning to reduce anxiety? Answer: Let’s put it this way, if I didn’t use gas in the morning, I’d be CREATING a lot of anxiety! We’ve got to get everybody to work and school, and it’s just too far to walk unless I’m planning to start a family farm on the front lawn. 5) Do you ever find yourself wishing you could gas up in order to calm yourself? Answer: Whenever that needle slips below a quarter tank I start to worry. Then I tell myself to relax, I can afford to pass the three stations with the expensive brand name gas. Then there’s an unexpected detour and suddenly I’m in full panic mode. 6) Do you ever gas up when taking prescription medications? Answer: Yes. I figure what’s more dangerous, me driving under the influence of penicillin, or me hitch-hiking after taking prescription meds? 7) Have you ever gone to work or school smelling of gasoline? Answer: I’m not 100 percent sure, due to the intoxicating effects of inhaled gasoline, but most likely yes. 8) Do you have a history of relationships with other gasoline users? Answer: There was that boy in ninth grade whose mother drove us everywhere. Beyond that it was bikes. But once I hit the real dating scene it was gas users all the way. 9) Do you find yourself using gasoline to help you sleep? Answer: My sister-in-law swears by the “Driving the Baby Around the Block” method of getting cranky babies to sleep. 10) Do you fill up your gas tank more than the recommended amount? Answer: Only to the nearest dollar. Lately it’s been to the nearest nickel because it’s just too expensive to let any spill over. 11) Do you try to conceal your use, or “edit” stories about using gas? Answer: We DO keep the van in the garage at night, so that would technically be concealment. Also if I ever run out of gas on the highway (especially after passing up a few “expensive stations”) I hope to be able to conceal this from my husband. 12) Do you ever use gasoline alone? Answer: After dropping off the kids, yes. But then I rationalize, saying well you never know, I MAY be pregnant. 13) Do you ever say things you regret while using gasoline? Answer: Sometimes I lose my temper. But never in front of the kids, and I don’t do rude hand gestures. 14) Have you ever slept in your car? Answer: Yes, but I was at the U.B campus where there was NO WAY to get a parking space after 8 a.m. So I’d get there an hour before my class started and yes, sometimes I napped. 15) Is your life increasingly chaotic and turbulent? Answer: On a personal level, no. But every time I read the news I get the feeling the world as a whole is trying to pull a “Thelma and Louise” off the nearest cliff. The other area of the State of the Union speech I wanted to address is our president’s call for a ban on human/animal hybrids. Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to meld human DNA with horse DNA? A new race of Centaurs that could gallop to work would surely solve this oil addiction we’re so worried about. Well, it’s hay for thought.

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