“I watched you very carefully. Red light, stop. Green light, go. Yellow light, go -- very fast.”
This is my favorite line from “Starman.” The movie is about an alien who crash-lands his spacecraft somewhere in Wisconsin. He takes the identity of a woman’s dead husband, and with her to guide him, sets out on a road trip to find a good spot for his retrieval. He learned to drive her car by watching her drive. He learned pretty well, I guess.
Now, if the alien had crash-landed here in Springfield, he would have learned a lot more about driving. You see, here in Springfield we have a phenomenon even more unusual than a crash-landing, dead-husband’s body-stealing, car-driving alien. It is this: in Springfield, everyone always has a green light. At the same time. Just check the police records in the newspaper and you’ll find that every party involved in any given accident will say, “I had a green light.” The next line invariably says, “No tickets were issued due to conflicting reports.”
Actually, it’s just part of what I call the Cycle of Driving in Springfield. Here’s how it goes:
At 15, you’re in driver education class. You have to drive a car with a big STUDENT DRIVER sign on top that signals to everyone that you are a trainee. You drive like my grandmother. However, the minute you get your license, you become an Invincible Party Machine on Wheels. Unfortunately, you’re not a very good driver. This is because you have very little experience. All you have is a license. And gas money.
Ten years later, you have more experience. However, you are becoming increasingly bored with those annoying little rules. You know, turn signals. Speed limits. Stop signs.
By your mid-40s, you have so much driving experience you can put on makeup, smoke a cigarette, talk on the phone, make obscene gestures to other drivers, and still be paying close enough attention to effectively run red lights and turn without signaling.
Now you’re in your 80s. You’ve been driving for some 70 years. You have plenty of experience, but now you only drive to the buffet -- often. Then one day, as you’re straining to peer above the steering wheel across the 2-acre hood of your gigantic automobile in an attempt to marshal it into a parking place at the buffet, somehow the gas pedal moves to where the brake pedal used to be, causing you to ram into a car driven by a 16-year-old Invincible Party Machine on Wheels, thereby giving him his first ‘real world’ driving experience. And so the ‘cycle’ continues. You, however, should really consider storing the Buick at this point.
I have an idea. I propose to build a vehicle specifically designed for driving in and around Springfield. I’m going to call it the Springfield Town Car. (I know some of you would like to pursue the obvious Lincoln reference, but let’s move on.) Here are the basic design concepts for The Springfield:
The Springfield will have:
1. No turn signals. Nobody ever uses them anyway.
2. No headlights. Only parking lights. I realize that this ignores the basic premise of PARKING lights, but that’s what people seem to prefer unless it’s totally pitch-black dark.
3. Wipers that will only work when all lights are turned off.
4. Rubber bumpers that surround the entire car. Like bumper cars. This is for Veterans Parkway driving, mall parking, and parking anywhere near a buffet.
5. An automated loudspeaker system that announces to other motorists that you are preparing to go through the intersection at full-speed, since you obviously have the green light, regardless of its actual color.
6. Full-size lighted makeup mirror--on the driver’s side.
7. Jogger whistles. These are not only attractive, but they will alert these pinheads who refuse to use the shoulder that a 4,000-pound vehicle is approaching rapidly and they need to move from the middle of the road.
8. A crash sensor with built-in cell phone relay. This will automatically disconnect your text and dial 911 for you when you smash into the car in front of you, which you didn’t see because you were busy texting.
9. A ‘mood’ steering wheel made of the same material used in mood rings. This is to combat ‘road rage.’ If you’re stuck behind a student driver at a non-synchronized light in Springfield, and the steering wheel changes to any color besides blue, stop the car immediately and try to find your ‘happy place.’
I believe The Springfield will perfectly suit the Springfield driver. Just imagine how people will talk when you glide down Veterans Parkway in your beautiful new Springfield Town Car!
“Do you see that car?”“You mean the big bumper car tailgating that student driver?”
“Notice anything unusual about it?”
“Yeah, it has no headlights -- and the steering wheel seems to be changing colors.”