Remember summer weekends? Like last summer? Lovely drives to the country to explore nature and the flea markets . . . to a friend's barbeque or picnic across town . . . to the Bay to go boating or crack crabs . . . to Rehoboth or Ocean City to get away from the city and tan the body. The only real hassles then were the Bay Bridge Backups.
Now every open gas station resembles that backup as the main weekend activity becomes finding gas for the weekend - and then being afraid to drive anywhere because it means facing another line Monday.
We may queue up for the lastest hot flick or Baryshnikov's flying leaps, but waiting for gas is another matte. Psychiatrists say their patients have growing feelings of helplessness, of being manipulated, and fantasies of revenge - particularly on anyone who cuts into a line. The love affair with the auto is turning into a hate affair with the oil companies. OPEC, politicians and anyone else between the driver and the pump.
To justify the time-consuming hunt, it's time to discover the joy of doing things you never would have done without the wait.
One woman cleaned out her entires car. "It looked like I lived in it," she laughed. As her car crept toward the pumps, she gathered more papers for nearby dumpster.
"Lady, how much more could you have?" wondered the stunned driver behind her.
Herewith, a sampling of things to do while sitting in a gas line:
Invite your friends to join you - same time, same station - for a gas-line party. Odd friends one day, even the next.
Fill out a new Form 171.
Compose OPEC minister limericks.
Find a date for that night on the line.
Spread a blanket on the hood and sunbathe. Someone will oil your back.
Floss your teeth.
Sew curtains for your car windows. During your next gas-line wait, enjoy afternoon delights in the back seat.
Psyche yourself into losing weight by playing a self-hypnosis tape on the tape deck.
Learn to play the guitar and serenade your fellow sufferers; pass the hat and you may get enough to buy gas.
Run for office; people in gas lines are bored and will listen. Promise them gas.
Practice your Californian. Try staying mellow while you converse about getting into the "space" of the driver ahead. Offer a picnic of pate, french bread, brie and wine.
Learn karate for the moment some bruiser tries to cut in line.
Windex the windows. Gas station attendants no longer do menial labor.
Read a book. Catch -22 will do.
See how many yoga positions you can do behind the steering wheel.
Form a coven and study withcraft. Stick pins in a James Schlesinger doll.
Paint your toenails.
Learn the hustle , sling, rope, jitterbug.
To relieve guilt over time spent scouting for gas, read at least three boring reports and everything from your office "in" box.
Meditate to fight stress and avoid unnecessary temper flareups.
Search under the seats. Vacuum.
Finish your doctorate in advanced physics.
Open a gas-line food and aspirin concession.Later you can franchise nationwide. Sign up everybody for a co-op gas station.
Draw up small claims actions against all those who owe you less than $750.
Bring cookbooks and plan for a month,
Arrange to see your doctor,lawyer,or accountant in the gas line.
Plot how to marry an oil sheikh and have your own oil well.
Jog around the gas line. You should be able to do several laps before having to move your car forward a few inches.
Watch out for Skylab.
Check your oil, water , hoses, points , and plugs since you can't get into a gas station for such things anymore. Gice yourself a tuneup, too, while you're at it.
Sell frozen strawberry daiquiris.
Do a crossword puzzle.
Sing like you do in the shower. It may shorten the line.
Ponder ways to get energy from waste.
Hold a contest. The winner is the one who guesses nearest how long it will to take you to get gas. Contest void if the pumps run out.
Bring children. Teach them to read.
Form Gasline University (old GLU). Offer courses in gasline psychology, scouting for gas, how to make a tank go farther, how to beat out the other guy.
Spray-paint your car. Permit others to do so, for a fee.
Survey the people in the gas line about how they feel about inflation, the gas crunch, sex - any lively topic.
Revise your resume.
Do isometric exercises.
Arrange for everyone to meet at the same time and play day after tomorrow for a pot-luck meal. Assign each a different course.
List all the obsence words you know.
Count your blessings.
Read the SALT II treaty.
Hold a trunk sale.
Plan ahead for the winter fuel oil shortage. Knit sweaters, hats, mittens, underwear. Bring firewood to split. Soak up sun memories. Read Virgin Islands brochures.
And save this list as a reminder for things to do in winter whileyou sit shivering CAPTION: Picture, no caption, By Margaret Thomas