I'm so proud of something I accomplished last weekend that I wanted to crow about it in the pages of this newspaper: I successfully negotiated Seven Corners.
I'd been on Broad Street in Falls Church, searching antique stores for an armoire. I wanted to try my luck along Little River Turnpike in Annandale. Yes, I could have retreated to the safety of the Beltway, hopped on for an exit or two, and then gotten off. But I was ready for a challenge.
After all, didn't I live for 14 years in the Montgomery County neighborhood of Four Corners? Hadn't I always wondered if I had what it took to tackle the big one, an intersection that was 75 percent more complex, Seven Corners?
On a map, the various streets that make up Fairfax County's famed crossroads -- formed by the concatenation of Wilson Boulevard, Arlington Boulevard, Leesburg Pike, Sleepy Hollow Road, Hillwood Avenue and Broad Street -- resemble unequal wedges of pie cut by a demented baker.
And it was straight into this hellish pastry that I pointed the nose of my Mini Cooper.
I saw that if I was able to get myself from Broad Street onto Sleepy Hollow Road/Route 613 headed south, I could swing onto Columbia Pike and end up in Annandale. That was the plan, anyway, but there was the risk that I would falter, overshoot my exit and be shunted onto another road entirely. And then I would suffer the eventual fate of all those who fall afoul of Northern Virginia's traffic gods: an eternity spent on Glebe Road.
As my car crept along a very crowded Broad Street, I was overwhelmed with the same feeling I get while waiting in the lift line at a ski slope. Would I be able to perform when it was my turn? Or would I plant my face in the snow?
As I approached the dreaded intersection, the road widened, aproning out like a runway from which each of us would launch our assault on Seven Corners. But what lane should I be in? From my trusty ADC map, it looked as if I should be in the rightmost lane, but would that end up feeding me onto Route 50? I decided to move one lane to the left to play it safe.
As my little patch of traffic inched closer, I saw a sign for Route 613. But it was for 613 East. I wanted 613 West, didn't I? (I'd thought I wanted 613 South, actually, but West would have to do.)
And then I spied a tiny sign for 613 West. I'd need to change lanes. I eyed the vehicle to my right, an underpowered import. I was certain I could take them. When the light went green, I threw the car into first, popped the clutch and -- signaling and checking my mirrors, of course -- deftly moved to the right and swung onto Sleepy Hollow Road.
If you were anywhere near that welter of concrete and asphalt last Saturday afternoon, you may have seen a driver in a red and white Mini pumping his fist in the air and shouting, "Yee haw! I did it!"
That was me, the King of Seven Corners.
A Hoppy Ending?
I have been following the story of Hoppy, Anne Arundel County's rogue wallaby. You'll recall that the marsupial, native to the woodlands of Australia, was first spotted several months ago in Severn. She popped up regularly after that, always eluding capture. That changed Monday night when, lured by corn, apples and kangaroo chow, Hoppy was nabbed.
This is not the first wallaby to be found in Maryland. In 1999, a wallaby was struck by a car and killed on Interstate 70 in Howard County. A wallaby disappeared a few years back from a petting farm in Davidsonville. Its whereabouts are still unknown.
All of this leads me to a frightening conclusion: Nonnative wallabies may be breeding in our forests.
We don't know where these wallabies originally came from, whether they were purchased as pets or bought for food or medicinal purposes. It's clear, though, that we are threatened by this invasive marsupial species.
We know what needs to be done. The forests of Anne Arundel County should be bombed immediately. Once the smoke clears, we can send in experts to see just how big the problem is.
If we don't fight this increasing wallabyization, we will soon have wallabies competing with native species for resources. And the day may come when wallabies are rooting around in your trash cans or crashing through your windshield.
A Misplaced Sense of Scale?
A wise man once said, "There's no people like show people." To this can be added "There's no people like dog show people." And that brings us to our second animal story.
You may have read about Champion Candyfloss Lord Wilton, the Pomeranian that vanished last Friday from the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Maryland during a dog show there. Roadblocks were set up, cars were searched, airports were notified. I don't know if Interpol was contacted, but I wouldn't doubt it.
It turned out that Lord Wilton's California co-owner, Hideko Strasbaugh, either had taken him or arranged for somebody else to take him. She had been feuding with his other co-owner, Connie Stetson of Ohio.
"It's like an act of terrorism," Connie said. "Everybody at that dog show is terrorized because the dog was gone."
Um, no, Connie. It wasn't at all like an act of terrorism.
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