Since Art Buchwald is now leading in the polls against Carter, Reagan and Anderson, his political managers have advised him to take a few weeks off to formulate his summer strategy. He left behind some of his favorite columns.
IF THE president is really serious in his campaign to protect Americans from invasion of privacy, he might start with automobile safety belts. These harnesses, which are attached to screaming buzzers on the dashboard, may save lives, but they're also wrecking marriages, driving people starkraving mad and causing untold havoc on the road.
Just the other day I was in Tucson, and the Sheltons offered to take me to dinner in their new car. There were six of us in the car, three in the front seat and three in the back. Everyone was in a jovial mood.
Then Shelton tried to start the car. A red light, the size of a highway billboard, lit up and a buzzer that sounded like an air-raid siren went off.
Shelton yelled to his wife, "Fasten your safety belt!"
"It is fastened!" she screamed back over the din.
"Well, it isn't fastened right. Put the shoulder strap over your chest."
"It is over my chest," she said angrily. I was sitting between them in the middle seat.
"Maybe it's my belt!" I yelled. I unhooked and then rehooked the belt, but the buzzer wouldn't stop.
"Hurry up," someone in the back seat shouted, "or the whole car will self-destruct."
Shelton leaned over me, grabbed his whfe's sholder harness and pulled it tightly around her.
The red light went off and the buzzing stopped.
"There," Shelton said, That's better."
"I'm choking," Mrs. Shelton gasped. "I can't breathe."
"Don't do anything," Shelton cried, "or the buzzing will start again."
"I can only hold my breath for two minutes," Mrs. Shelton gagged.
I lifted the shoulder harness from her neck and the red light went on again and the scream of the buzzer filled the car.
"Everybody get out," Shelton said. "Let's see if I can solve this thing."
We all got out of the car. Shelton studied the front seat.
"All right. My harness goes in this slot, your harness in this slot and her harness goes in this one. Now let's all get back in the car again, and I don't want to hear any buzzers."
We got back in and in five minutes managed to get the harnesses around us.
Shelton turned on the ignition and everything on the dashboard flashed red.
"You hold her harness," Shelton yelled to me, "and let her hold yours."
"Who's going to hold yours?" I shouted.
"I'll hold my own."
"How are you going to drive?" I asked him.
"Who cares, as long as I stop the buzzing."
I was holding on to Mrs. Shelton's harness for dear life, and she had my seat belt in the crook of her elbow. Shelton had one hand underneath his seat and was driving with the other.
For five minutes it was quiet in the car. Then Mrs. Shelton said, "I think the circulation in my arm has been cut off. There's no feeling in it."
"We've only got three miles to go," Shelton raged. "Hang on."
"Please let go of my harness," Mrs. Shelton begged me.
"If you do, I'll kill you," Shelton told me.
We made it to the restaurant just before Mrs. Shelton passed out.
It was a good dinner, but no one really cared. Everyone was thinking of the drive back to the hotel.