It wasn't yesterday, but I can recall it as if it were. Collegiate Levey, piloting his first car, a dearly beloved '57 Ford, comes to Washington for a late summer visit.
He knows that the Baltimore-Washington Parkway becomes New York Avenue, because the map tells him so. Beyond that, however, he has absolutely no idea where he's going.
After a couple of miles, the callow visitor finds himself on Massachusetts Avenue -- although heaven knows why or how. A few blocks farther on, he finds himself in the middle of the most confusing, dangerous, hurly-burly swirl of traffic he has ever seen -- counting Times Square, Piccadilly Circus and downtown Istanbul.
It was (and is) called Dupont Circle.
Five times, our boy tries to go around the circle and stay on Mass. Avenue. Five times, he fails.
On the sixth try, just as he's starting to feel like Charlie on the MTA, our guinea pig veers off onto Connecticut Avenue and asks a pedestrian for directions to Massachusetts. The stroller says, "I have no idea how to get back on Massachusetts, and nobody else in this entire city does, either."
In the years since, a less-collegiate Levey has watched Dupont Circle get worse and worse. But other Washington intersections have equaled or surpassed it. Washington Circle, Wisconsin and M, New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE -- the list of horrors grows, without much sign (or much hope) of relief.
But are these the worst of the bad? Are these the D.C. area intersections we locals hate and fear the most, and go out of our way to avoid? What constitutes Washington's Terrible Ten -- the most dangerous traffic gauntlets in the area?
The answer to these questions is not just a matter of accident statistics or engineering data. It's a matter of human opinion from the humans who care the most and know the best -- those of us who have to survive these danger spots every day.
So we're going to sample all that human opinion with a poll.
Each reader gets one vote. Send ballots, accompanied by colorful adjectives or proposed solutions if you like, to: Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. I'll do a tally, and publish the full list. Then maybe, just maybe, somebody will do something to improve things.
I'm one of those bah humbug types who likes to mutter that there's no such thing as an item that's cheaper at one store than at another.
How could there be? As soon as somebody offers a widget for a few cents less, the competition has to slash its prices to the same level, right? Any price difference a bargain-hunter might find would be minor, and temporary.
But George Brinsko of Greenbelt sends along a list that makes me wonder.
George was after a bottle of Vitron-C, and he decided to do some price comparing around his neighborhood. Here's what he discovered:
People's Drug, Landover: $7.56.
Drug Fair, Seabrook: $7.59.
Dart Drug, Lanham: $6.39.
Giant Food, Greenbelt: $6.25.
Safeway, Laurel: $6.09.
Drug Emporium, New Carrollton: $5.29.
That's a swing of $2.27, or more than 40 percent, between the lowest price and the highest. That's neither minor nor temporary, is it, Mr. Bah-Humbug?
Or, as George puts it, too bad the Drug Emporium doesn't sell gasoline.
Valerie Chapin of Odenton, Md., notes that "every artist is getting into the act pardon the pun of raising money for this or that foreign cause . . . .But where is the artist who is going to gather his rich musician friends to have a concert to raise money to help America's tired, hungry, poor struggling masses?"
C&P Telephone has taken a lot of guff -- much of it deserved -- since the dismemberment of AT&T. Here's a yarn that proves there's still a heart beating in the chests of some C&Pers. It arrives courtesy of Judy Becker of Silver Spring.
"Yesterday, my mother called. And called, and called, and called," Judy writes. "Foolish me, I'd knocked the phone off the hook before going out, so the line was busy all day."
When Judy got home, she noticed the problem, and hung up the receiver. Then she went out for another hour. When she came back again, the following message was on her answering machine:
"This is C&P Telephone repair. We had an out-of-order report on your phone earlier today. But the line seems to be OK now. It was your Mom that made the report. Please call her."
Another mother -- one named Bell, may she rest in peace -- would smile at that one, don't you think?