Point of View: One Less for the Road


    Read a letter recently in The East Hampton Press the writer of which was outraged that a successful psychiatrist, who’d had “one glass of wine” at dinner, and who was driving his 86-year-old mother home, had been caught up in the police dragnet of a few weeks back.
    That fatal glass of wine had resulted in the “guilty-before-proven-innocent” psychiatrist spending the night in jail “along with 20-plus others.” The cops, she concluded, had acted out of spite, envious of the successful. Something “right out of Nazi Germany [had] occurred.”
    Now I know what to say should I be pulled over: Not “Do you know Eddie Ecker?” but “Do you know I’m a member of the 99 percent? See, it says so on the rear bumper.”
    Class warfare (“But the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep” — Ecclesiastes 5:12) and Nazi Germany aside, I don’t like these mass stops either, though a lawyer friend said they were for the greater good and that therefore were not a fit subject for hyperventilation. “You really shouldn’t drive after having had two glasses of wine,” she said. And before I could say, “red or white?” added, “Contrary to what that letter writer says, you wouldn’t be arrested if you’d only had one.”
    I was sobered by her admonition, especially on hearing her say an accident victim stopped at a traffic light had been arrested for D.W.I. after his car had been struck by another drunken driver who had died in the collision.
    It is not the time, I suppose, given the five deaths and serious accidents here this summer, to recite Article V of the Constitution’s amendments, the one having to do with with warrantless (and thus illegal) searches and seizures.
    Still, I have some cavils: As for class warfare, Latinos seem usually to bear the brunt of it here rather than prominent psychiatrists, and as for the greater good, one wonders, having read Tom McMorrow’s front-page story last week about the Brazilian couple pulled over on Montauk’s lonely Industrial Road, if it is always served by our police. And finally, one wonders, having just been administered the sobriety field test by McMorrow himself, how many teetotaling “seniors” whose sense of balance has waned would pass!

    And now on to something more cheery. I was at the dump, as is my wont most summer days, when hailed by Joe O’Connell, a fellow avid tennis player who had enjoyed my golf guffawing column of the week before. The setting seemed particularly apt inasmuch as I and he — especially he, who has two new knees to which he recently added a new right shoulder — are living, walking examples of the efficacy of personal recycling.
    “Look!” he said, extending his right arm straight to the sky. Because shoulders are tricky and require a lot of rehabbing — and sometimes are never quite right — he said he had been forced to serve underhand for a while, “but the guys I play with had trouble getting those underhand serves back.” I told him I’d found the same thing last week when forced by a strained lower abdominal muscle that’s taken about a month in coming around to serve softly (though overhand) to my opponents as well. “Despite that, I won as many games as I usually do,” I said. “And now I know now I’ll be able to play this way into my 90s!”
    He spoke for both of us when he said in parting, “I’ll never give up!”