Susan Fannon of Alexandria is one of my most indefatigable correspondents, but she almost left the corresponding business -- not to mention the realm of the living -- the other day at the hands of a panel truck.
It was driven by the usual Suburban Cowboy -- one of those public-spirited height-makes-right types who knows his vehicle is taller, heavier and longer than yours, and who dares you to outfight him for the fast lane or outgun him away from a red light.
After a near crunch, most people would make an immediate appointment with a bottle of bourbon. Susan decided to write me instead, with a partial list of the Ten Worst Horribles That Can Befall a Person.
Understandably, getting caught behind a panel truck in traffic was No. 1. Her next seven:
2) A huge wet dog in the living room.
3) A long soprano recitative in an opera.
4) Finding enough postage to mail a warranty post card.
6) Discovering smashed eggs once you get home from the grocery, caused by an inept bagger.
7) Men who leave toilet seats up.
8) Smelly perfume in church.
Susan invited me to finish the top 10. It was easy:
9) Cereal to which sugar is added after the milk.
But there are others. Soooooo many others:
* Newspapers that are chucked onto a front porch with just enough force that the one story on the front page you really want to read is torn in half.
* Panhandlers who tell you to have a nice day when you haven't given them anything.
* The spiels on recording devices that automatically answer phones. As Will Rogers might say, I've never heard one I didn't hate.
* People who are late, and don't apologize for it.
* People who take the seat next to you on the bus, sit on the edge of your jacket, and then act offended when you give a good yank to get free.
* Raw eggplant.
* Cooked eggplant.
* Women who refer to themselves as "gals."
* Metrorail drivers who try, and fail, to pronounce "Judiciary Square."
* Ditto for "L'Enfant Plaza."
* Anyone who regularly punctuates his speech with "like," "y'know," or "Ya see what I'm saying?"
And millions more. Anyone else have special (un)favorites?
Larry Schwartz of Northwest is a lawyer, so he's entitled to spin the following yarn:
A college was interviewing applicants for its presidency. The search committee reduced the contenders to a mathematician, an economist and a lawyer. The committee decided to conduct a final interview with each, and to ask each the same question: "What's two plus two?"
The mathematician went first. He pondered the question for a while, as mathematicians will. Then he said: "Speaking in real integers only, without logarithmic variables or square root factors, the answer is four."
The economist was next: "Within standard statistical deviation, based on the expected Dow Jones, the answer, plus or minus one, is four."
The lawyer was last. He got up from the table, walked over to the windows and pulled down the shades. Then he made a dramatic turn toward the committee and asked: "How much do you want it to be?"