Thoughts while shaving . . . .
Prince George's County takes lots of raps, some fair, most not. How to fight back? County officials have tried to do it with various pride campaigns. Some have been a bit shrill.
"Prince George's! The Greatest Place on Earth!" shouted one. It had all the subtlety of a right to the jaw, and all the accuracy of a grocery store tabloid.
"I'm From Hyattsville and I Love It!" shouted another. Bad one, guys. It invites someone who isn't from Hyattsville to say, "Fine, great, you go right ahead and love Hyattsville all you like. I'll take Rockville."
The ultimate was the campaign a few years back to get people to use the county's full name, rather than its first two initials.
P.G. had no class, it was whispered, whereas Pr-r-r-r-ince Ge-e-e-e-eorge's Coun-n-n-nty conjured up barons sipping cognac as they looked out over the English countryside.
Mercifully, this idea died of an acute case of common sense.
If people want to say P.G., they will say P.G. That says nothing about what kind of a place the county is, or how much class it does or doesn't have. It simply says that busy people refer to lots of places by initials. A county in south central Maryland is no exception.
So what should the county do if it feels its image is in need of help?
Prince George's County should change its name to P.G., formally and forever.
This would do no violence to the memory of Prince George. His initials would live on, even if his full handle would not. Besides, no one would be tortured any more about whether there's an apostrophe in George's.
And think of the snappiness potential. "P.G. Is Peachy!" signs beside the road would cry, at every entrance point to the county. "P.G. Is Rated G," the developers' fliers would say. "P.G.: A-OK," lapel buttons would read, in crisp initials only.
I can hear the troops in Montgomery and Fairfax snickering already. But those troops should consider this:
No one will ever refer to P.G. County as Monkey County or FareTax County.
There is no way to say this in a new way, so I'll say it in an old way.
People drive incredibly dangerously.
I was coming home the other night from Baltimore on I-95. It was after 1 a.m. Near Laurel, a car came barreling along in the left lane. It was going at least 15 miles an hour over the speed limit.
Seconds later, a second car came barreling along in the same lane. It was going faster than the first. Within moments, the second barreler was right on the bumper of the first barreler, going about 75 miles an hour.
Barreler Two gave Barreler One about a second and a half to note his presence and get the heck out of the way. But when B-One didn't do that, B-Two whipped smartly into the lane immediately to the right.
He passed B-One in a flash, then whipped back into the left lane, almost clipping B-One's bumper. You will not see a flashier change-of-direction move in the next 15 football games you watch.
It's a waste of time to point out that both barrelers broke the law. Either they know they did, or they don't care, or both.
What we need is a new approach. Not cat-and-mouse with police officers, who are hopelessly outmanned and always will be. Instead, we need educational billboards.
The billboards would inform motorists that if they go 55 all the way from Baltimore to Washington, they will arrive only about six minutes later than they would have if they went 70. "Is six minutes worth losing your insurance, your license, or your life?" the signs might ask.
This will not work on the hard core yo-yos. But it may work on the guy who has never thought about how ineffective speeding really is.
Granted, complaining about prices is about as effective as baying at the moon. But haven't the prices of ice cream cones gotten out of hand?
I am no businessman, but those who are estimate the basic wholesale cost of a sugar cone plus one scoop of ice cream at 15 cents. Most scooperies around town charge at least a dollar more than that for a cone.
That's a markup of almost 700 percent. Not even a heavy-duty expense account restaurant has the nerve to whip you for that much.
The only saving grace would be if the ice cream were worth the money.
Not unless you like paying for ice chips floating around amid the chocolate chips.
Marketing strategy alone would seem to dictate a cone at no more than buck. Who buys cones? Kids. Who pays for the cones? Parents -- after having been begged by kids. Is a parent more likely to give a kid a dollar, or a dollar and a quarter? Silly question.