Sure, I get irritated. Even though I seem cool, calm and collected -- unflappable, if you will -- sometimes even I lose it, descending into spittle-spewing rage. For example:

Number Theory

Where am I?

Where the $%*@ am I?

I mean, I know I'm in my car, my fingers clenched around the steering wheel, my teeth gritted in frustration. But where is my car exactly? Besides "somewhere in the Washington suburbs"?

How come not a single *&$%@! building on this Godforsaken stretch of pavement has an address on it? Would it kill that muffler shop to slap some numbers on its door? Or that Taco Bell?

And that strip shopping center, the one with the sad, stucco carapace that's been tarted up with postmodern geegaws -- arches and angles and little colored panels -- shouldn't it have a huge sign announcing to all the motorists condemned to travel this ribbon of steaming asphalt what its address is? I don't care if that address stretches to six or seven digits -- 523800 Little River Turnpike, 792727 Branch Ave. I need to know it.

See, I know where I'm going -- I have the address written on this piece of paper that I'm clutching in my sweaty hand -- I just don't know where I am. Okay, I'm lost, but I wouldn't be lost if I could just get a clue, a tiny little clue as to my whereabouts.

And it isn't just that the buildings lack addresses out here in Annandale/Gaithersburg/Burke/Largo. It's that the streets lack names.

Oh, I know they have names. But for some reason, the people who run this particular patch of suburbistan have chosen not to announce the names on horizontal panels that bear essential geographic data.

That is, some freakin' signs!

So: No street signs. No street numbers.

Is this sensitive, top-secret information? Are we afraid that if we put the address on that Shell station, the Taliban is going to attack it? If we put up nice, clear street signs, the Kaiser's army is going to march straight to the White House?

Am I supposed to use Global Positioning System technology to find my destination? Or a divining rod?

Please, for the love of all that is holy, I beg you: Every building in the Washington area -- every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse -- should have a number on it.

Where am I?

The Tooth Hurts

Oh look. Someone sent me a postcard. And not just any someone. I recognize the handwriting. It's a postcard from me.

That's right, I sent myself a postcard.

And what did I say to myself? I said that it's been six months since my last dental checkup and it's time to make an appointment.


Dear Dr. Dentist: Are you so $#&@ lazy that you make me remind myself when it's time for me to see you?

Surely your office isn't so busy that you can't address the postcard -- which features a smiling tooth clutching a gargantuan toothbrush -- yourself. And yet after every appointment it falls to me to address a reminder postcard to myself.

This isn't a manpower issue, is it? No. This is something more nefarious.

You're trying to make me complicit in my own discomfort, aren't you? You know that I'm nervous about the dentist, and you want to lull me into a false sense of security -- relax me -- by sending me a postcard from me.

This is twisted. You know what it reminds me of? The way in China a condemned man's family is made to pay for the bullet used to execute him. When I fill out this postcard, I become a collaborator.

The truth is, I don't look forward to seeing you. I know you mean well -- you only want to protect me from cavities and the scourge of gingivitis -- but at some point, you're going to strap me in the chair, stuff my mouth full of cotton and go all "Marathon Man" on me. You will command me to spit.

And even though I floss religiously, you're still going to make my gums bleed. If I need a root canal, you are going to bring me pain beyond imagining.

You think a little postcard to myself is going to make me forget all that?

Oh, and another thing: I don't like the feel of the bitewing X-ray thingie in my mouth or the flavor of the gritty compounds you use when you polish my teeth.

Chocolate flavor? Mint flavor? Cherry flavor? How about no flavor?

And as for this postcard, do your own dirty work from now on.

The Screw of the Turn


If I had known you were turning here, I could have pulled out into traffic and been that much closer to my destination.

But nooooo. You came closer, closer, closer, and then you turned without warning.

Why do you think that little stalk sprouts from the side of your steering column? It's not a decorative element!

It's a tool to notify other drivers of your intentions. Use it! Use your $%*@ turn signal!

Ahhhh. I feel so much better. Care to rant about something you find irritating? Send it to, or write me at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.