Sartre was right: Hell is other people, I think,s as I try to navigate as calmly as possible through the throbbing, siren-wailing traffic here.
Well, perhaps not other people, but other drivers, for sure. In the aggregate, they and I could pass for a pretty fair approximation of hell, which if by hell you mean torment.
Yes, it’s pretty safe to say that we who drive here in the summertime are tormented — a fact music, however serene, or talk radio, however demented, will not allay.
When I told my wife last night that there had been 57 accidents in the past week, 29 of which had resulted in arrests that alleged drinking while driving, she said, “There must be so many tormented souls.”
Or heedless souls, at any rate, which may be the same thing as tormented inasmuch as the reflectiveness you would think the topography of this place — its beaches, dunes, quiet bays, and milky and burnished light — would inspire seems sadly, and sometimes tragically, absent.
We live in a madhouse, admit it. At least in the summer months. So any pretense at rationality seems to be out of the question. Voltaire told us to cultivate our gardens, but the deer eat them.
At least stay home, then, but summer tenants doth murder sleep, the innocent sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care. . . .
I used to rail at random traffic stops, my accustomed reaction to what I call unreasonable searches and seizures, but now I almost yearn for them. Suspend our liberties, please do. And should we present a clear and present danger to others, haul us away to the looney bin, where we belong.
Perhaps there should be a tourist head tax — a pooled fund dedicated to repairing, as much as possible, the damage done.
And, along with that tax, there would be a summer reading list given out, a list of the many interesting books that have been written on the natural and human history of this place, starting with our late editor Ev Rattray’s “The South Fork, The Land and the People of Eastern Long Island.” Perhaps every bedside table in a vacation rental should have one, in Gideon Bible fashion.
There would be no tests; I have said I’m against them. But perhaps some of the knowledge acquired would take, and the readings on our Richter scale of mayhem would abate somewhat over time.