When I was about 3 or 4, our family car was a 1948 Hudson — a Commodore 4-door sedan. It was a humongous, streamlined expression of art-deco-ness, powered by a massive straight-eight engine. We felt invulnerable in our Hudson — even when streaking through the desert at 90 mph. We didn’t know what seat belts were, much less child restraints. I customarily sat on the center armrest in the back seat, affording a great view of the road.
In the back seat, just behind each side window, was a triangularly-shaped light with a switch that I liked to operate. My father warned me that if I turned the light on too much while the motor wasn’t running it would run down the battery. I had no idea what a battery was — so I concluded that these lights were themselves batteries. For some reason, I was fascinated with the shape of the lights. I thought they were kind of scary — like a little shining mouth in a screaming rictus of terror.
Of course toddlers emulate behavior, and I wanted to emulate the little battery-lights, so I developed what I called a “battery-face” — a diagonally skewed gape that caused my parents no end of amusement — which encouraged me to try my battery face on anyone and everyone. “What’s wrong with that child? He’s scaring me!” people at the store were heard to whisper, as I gawked my battery-face at them.
Fortunately, I outgrew this before I started school.
Now, at 62, I wonder if I should resurrect the battery-face. It would be useful in many situations.
Like just today, when a guy wouldn’tÂ move his car so I could hook up jumper cables between my two cars to resurrect my dead battery (there could be some irony there, but you’d have to be on some controlled substance to get it).
Or for the next retail clerk who asks you if you have one of those obnoxious little club cards so they can track your spending habits to better exploit you.
Or when you can’t get served in a restaurant. Snapping your fingers at a server is insulting and demeaning. A good battery-face will get you instant attention — or expulsion.
A battery-face is appropriate when you’re machine-gunning commies — I saw Rambo do it several times.
A battery-face is far more civil and more effective than flipping someone off in traffic.
In a long line at the bank or post office? A good, sustained battery-face will disperse any group of people quickly and efficiently.
And these are just examples of solo battery-faces.
Imagine how effective a group battery-face could be. For example, in a classroom, a good group battery-face might frighten a teacher out of giving that annoying semester final.
A church congregation might employ a group battery-face when a preacher flaps on like a loose overcoat sleeve in a 50 mph gale (this applies to pretty much any sermon).
But the best application of the battery-face would be to graphically express to politicians how sick and tired we are of their endless blathering as we near the end of this endless election season. A well-planned group battery-face at a political rally might make the most calloused politician wet his or her pants — or more! Unfortunately, politicians routinely screen attendees at these events, so this kind of thing won’t happen. The result is that the battery-face of the people is repressed.
That’s just wrong. I’m pretty sure battery-faces are protected by the First Amendment. Or the Ninth Amendment, which protects rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution — of which battery-faces are probably one, since modern batteries, Hudsons and scary triangular interior car lights had not been invented yet.
But Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had, in fact, probably thought of them — and that’s why we should all put on our best battery-faces in this last week before the election — whenever we see, hear, or meet a politician, and of course as we vote.
Then after the election — it will be time for the Edsel-face.