Thursday, September 28, 2006


I've often heard that people who are ordinarily courteous and affable can become utterly demonic behind the wheel of a car. I've witnessed it firsthand riding with my wife. I think it has something to do with the concept of "car-as-armor": drivers feel somehow impenetrable behind layers of steel and glass. Road rage stories abound, and dealing with rush hour traffic in metropolitan Boston, I can understand its origins. I guess it's like glancing over at the enthusiastically nose-picking, makeup-applying, or Treo-poking driver beside you at a stop light. Somehow, behind the wheel, he or she feels invisible. Except, you can totally see them.

I've never been a fan of giving the Roadway Fuck You. I feel like it's just asking for trouble, and it doesn't even make me feel any better. In fact, it usually makes me feel worse, like I've sunk to some new white-trash low. And yet that doesn't make me immune to the desire to occasionally flip off my fellow travelers. And, ultimately, that's what this posting is about.

I was driving home from work last week, in heavier-than-usual traffic. I try to be a smart driver, and I'm usually pretty good about letting other cars into traffic and merging and stuff. But I'm certainly not perfect. I'll admit that, should I have the option, I'm more likely to give way to a car with an HRC or "Visualize Whirled Peas" sticker on it. Given the choice, I'm not acquiescing to any Healey/Hillman-supporting right wingers. Maybe it's a metaphor.

So anyway, I'm in traffic and this Honda SUV cuts me off. Eh, he's a jerk. Then I notice his car signage. A big sign, taking up half of his rear window (which is probably why he didn't see me), that says, "Let the People Vote." If you're from Massachusetts, you know what this means. It's an anti-gay marriage sentiment, indicating that the right of same sex couples to marry should be put to a popular vote. Oh, so he really is a jerk.

Some things to know about me: I'm gay. I'm married, to a same-sex spouse. We've been together about five years, married for one. I'm a Massachusetts native, raised Roman Catholic. I struggled to reconcile my religion and my orientation for many years, before finally giving up and leaving the church three or four years ago. I'm left-leaning and politically aware, but for the most part I kept my politics, like my sexuality, to myself. I hate conflict, and I avoid it like the plague. I'm also very quiet. Stepping up and speaking out do not come easily to me.

Okay, back to my commute. So I see this sign, and it instantly makes me angry. I want to get a look at this driver, to see who this person is. When I finally get up alongside and check out this guy, I see that he's young, probably late twenties or early thirties. For some reason, that makes me madder. Like he should know better or something. (I realize that this is not a rational thought.) And, probably because he's young, I feel an almost irresistible urge to make The Gesture. But we're in stop-and-go traffic, and I lose the opportunity.

Then I think, "Even better, I should just show him my wedding ring. Then flip him off."

Nah, that's kind of classless.

But I should show him my ring. I'm proud of it. It means the world to me to be legally married, despite the best efforts of People Like Him.

And, anyway, fuck him and his "Let the People Vote" on my marriage.

I should flip him off. Then show him my wedding ring. No, better the other way around. Ring, then finger.

Not sure I can do that fast enough. Don't have the ring finger dexterity. The two fingers sorta move together. They're very similar.

Hmmm... They're very similar. They're right beside each other. The gesture is the same, but different. And that ring might really piss him off.

Yeah. My gay wedding ring could really piss him off. But the gesture itself wouldn't be obscene. It would be a Statement. Those who get it, would get the irony, and the humor. Those who don't get it, or who share a different viewpoint, might not find it so funny. It might make them angry, or indignant. They'd hate it. They'd say we're "mocking marriage" or something like that. They might find it obscene that I can legitimately wear a wedding ring. They'd hate it.

Ah ha!

My gay wedding ring will really piss them off, but it still isn't obscene.

Welcome to Ring Finger Salute.