Lunchtime at 17th and Pennsylvania. The light changed, and the human throng started to cross. But here came a blue Chrysler, yet another motorist who thought that a yellow light in his direction means "One last chance!" rather than "Slow down!"
The throng was several steps into the intersection by the time the Chrysler arrived and tried to thread its way through. Most of the time, in this familiar situation, a throng will sullenly let a car pass. But this time, a fellow in a green jogging suit stepped directly in front of the Chrysler and slapped its hood once, very sharply, with the flat of his hand.
The driver immediately stopped, slammed the car into parking gear, jumped out and began to make a number of multisyllabic charges about Jogging Suit's parentage.
"I did it because you ran a red light," said Jogging Suit, calmly.
"You hit my car!" spluttered Chrysler Driver.
"Because you ran a red light," J.S. said, even as could be.
Chrysler Driver was so surprised by all this that he got back into the car and drove away, without another word. And I was so surprised by all this that I marched up to Jogging Suit and told him I wanted to immortalize him in my daily spot amongst the funnies.
"Hey, I don't want any publicity," the man said. "It isn't even my idea. I got it from a friend in New York. He used to call it Doing the Bop."
The New York friend would administer a good, solid pop to any car that ran a red or yellow light, any car that failed to stop at a stop sign and any car that made a turn across his path when he, the pedestrian, had the right of way.
"Of course, in New York, a bop is nothing," Jogging Suit told me. "Up there, all the businessmen carry attache cases. If a driver does something they don't like, they smash one of his taillights with the case. I even saw a furious pedestrian stab a cab's tire to death once with a pipe-cleaning tool."
Nobody's recommending any of that for our sleepy riverside hamlet. Still, Doing the Bop seems to be a relatively painless (yet thoroughly effective) way to tell red-light runners that we've had more than enough.
Suburban subspecies of the Bop: The Washington Post Swat.
Jim Kressler of Gaithersburg used it on a red sports car the other day. Jim was crossing the street on foot, with that morning's Post tucked under his arm, when a car swooped right across his bow and ran over the front edge of his shoe. Another couple of centimeters, and Jim would have had five crushed toes, or perhaps much worse.
Jim wound up, swung, and WHAP! He delivered a coup de journal to the sports car's trunk.
There followed the same tiresome routine that Jogging Suit had endured downtown: "You dirty so-and-soing so-and-so, I'll get you, blah-blah- blah." But Jim stood his ground -- and soon, the sports car driver left.
Jim is sure the creep got the message more lastingly than if he had merely shouted at him.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in the newsroom of The Post on Sept. 30, 1971, when someone on the city desk put his palm over the phone and called out:
"Hey, they're going crazy over at RFK!"
Crazy wasn't the half of it. The Senators were playing their last game of baseball before being moved (or, if you prefer, hijacked) to Texas the following spring. But with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the fans stormed the field.
They ripped up the bases and the sod and raised so much other hell that the umpires forfeited the game. Instead of beating the New York Yankees, 7-5, as they had been in the process of doing, the Senators ended their season (and their existence) with a 9-0 defeat.
Tonight, a decade and four-tenths later, The Washington Senators' Fan Club will hold a reunion at RFK Stadium to commemorate that fateful forfeit.
No sod-ripping this time. The proceedings will be gentlemanly, and unusually interesting.
Former Senators Joe Grzenda, Dick Billings and Dick Bosman will be there, along with broadcasters Ron Menchine, Tony Roberts and Johnny Holliday and sportswriters George Minot Jr., Morris Siegel and Merrell Whittlesey.
The festivities begin at 6 p.m. Sales of food and drink will benefit the Special Olympics. Admission is free. And so is this final thought:
Wouldn't it be nice if there were a real live ball game at RFK tonight, instead of just memories?
Bob Talbert in The Detroit Free Press:
Happiness is finding your glasses before you forget why you're looking for them.