October 2014 - McCormick Place
She was trying to find a Dunkin’ Donuts all along the Jersey Turnpike, for that is the only coffee she drinks, at least on the road. Fortunately, we had our favorite snack aboard – a package of pistachios in the glove compartment. Nobody keeps gloves in a glove compartment, but we keep there almost everything else that alters and illuminates our times.
The idiot girl on the GPS had specific instructions to take us the fast route in midday through New York City, en route to the eastern tip of Long Island, specifically Shelter Island. We thought idiot girl would choose either the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge or the George Washington, and because she had gained our trust over 1,000 miles, we accepted her route – until suddenly we found ourselves inexorably driven into the Lincoln Tunnel and downtown Manhattan. The tunnel was jammed.
“This is crazy,” we said. “Idiot girl has done exactly what we didn’t want. Now we have to cross Manhattan.”
The only sensible way to cross Manhattan is on foot. It is about three times faster than any vehicle except a bike or skateboard at midday. For the occasion, George Washington chose a horse. Alas, we were stuck in a SUV, and we were stuck behind 3 million crazy vehicles practically stacked on top of each other on 34th Street. The miracle on 34th Street is that anyone crosses between the two rivers and lives to tell about it.
“Watch out,” she screamed. “That truck is not stopping! Look out for that kid! You almost hit that cop. Watch out for that woman with the baby! You’re driving crazy!”
“I’m not driving crazy. Everybody else is driving crazy. Damn, they keep closing lanes. Get me a pistachio. They’re in the glove compartment.”
“You can’t eat a pistachio driving like this. Are you crazy?”
“No, I’m trying to avoid a heart attack. Pistachios are good for heart health. Studies show that volunteers in a double-blind study saw their LDL bad cholesterol drop by about 14 percent. HDL for good cholesterol rose by 26 percent with a 12 percent decrease in total cholesterol. Give me a pistachio. I’m having chest pains.”
“You can’t break these open while driving. You’re in the bus lane! Move out. Watch out. That guy’s not letting you in. Watch out for those kids! You have a red light!”
“The cop is telling me to go through. Open the pistachio for me.”
“Try another one. Some of them are easier than others.”
“You can’t eat and drive. Watch out for that guy on the bike! You’re gonna kill us!”
“Get me another pistachio. Your screaming is making me nervous. The vitamin B6 in pistachios has wide-ranging effects on the nervous system. Messaging molecules called amines require amino acids to develop. B6 plays a crucial role in the formation of myelin, the insulating sheath around nerve fibers that allows optimal messaging between nerves.”
“Damn it, I broke a fingernail on your freakin’ pistachios! What are you doing? You’re stopped in the middle of the intersection. You’re blocking traffic! Back up.”
“I can’t. That cop is waving me through. Hey, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts. You can get your coffee.”
“I can’t get out now. I’ll never find you.”
“We aren’t moving. I’ll only be a few cars away in a half hour.”
“Watch out for that taxi! You nearly hit him. Are you blind?”
“Pistachios contain carotenoids, called lutein and zeaxanthin, which function as protective antioxidants, defending tissues from damage from free radicals. They have been linked with a decrease in the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of visual impairments in the United States.”
The ordeal probably lasted 40 minutes, but it seemed like a month before we finally reached the Long Island Expressway, where we were rewarded with bumper-to-bumper traffic for the next 20 miles.
For the record, our GPS system advises that we blew more than an hour getting on and off interstates looking for Dunkin’ Donuts. But that was in North Carolina and a good many pistachios later. By then, we were immune to traffic travails. B6, which pistachios abound in, helps the body make healthy red blood cells, and maintain the health of the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes, ensuring the production of white blood cells that defend the body from infections. They also taste good.