Woah there, crazypants! What’s with the giant, intimidating capital letters!?! Are you shouting? Are you angry?? Did you forget what the button marked “Caps Lock” does??? *

Observant readers will note that I never use uppercase letters in the titles to my blog posts even though, grammatically, I should. There is just something so visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing about lowercase letters. They’re so small and uniform and delicious . . . I will spare you my love letter to the fairer case (as well as the one I have in the works about the Garamond font) because that is not what this post is about. Really, I just need you to know that I do not take the use of capital letters lightly. If I have made the decision to use all caps, you better believe there is a reason.

5. An Interstate highway on-ramp sign. Scott R...

Image via Wikipedia

Today, that reason is THE FIVE (and yes, I am going to keep referring to it like that throughout the post). THE FIVE is what cool kids ’round these parts call Interstate 5, the massive, parallel-to-the-Pacific-running highway that starts just south of the border (Mexico, pronounced MEH-hee-co) and ends just north of the border (Canada, pronounced EH?). That’s 1381.29 miles, folks – and no, I did not know that off the top of my head. While THE FIVE’s span is impressive, what is more impressive is the amount of vehicles that utilize the highway on a daily basis. I recently read a statistic that the north county corridor (referring only to the section of I-5 that runs through Northern San Diego County) is traveled by 70,000 vehicles A DAY (see what I did again there with the capital letters). I used to live in East Hampton, Connecticut; I don’t think Route 66 saw 70,000 vehicles in a year.

Now, hopefully you are beginning to see why THE FIVE deserves its towering stature. It’s not just a highway – it’s an omnipresent entity, an enigma wrapped in an exhaust cloud, a beast. You know how the road in Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road is more like a character than a setting? Yeah, it’s like that.

As is such, THE FIVE and I have a relationship. I should mention that THE FIVE and I live together. It’s kind of a big deal out here to live west of THE FIVE. In the area of Carlsbad where I dwell, it means you live, at most, 0.85 miles from the beach. For those of us not blessed with trust funds (thanks a lot, Mom and Dad) or six-figure salaries (thanks a lot, art therapy), it means that you live just west of THE FIVE. Some days, THE FIVE is a really bad roommate, loud and emitting toxic fumes. Other times, THE FIVE can be a real pal, drowning out your neighbor’s maximum volume TV and scaring away girl scouts.

The most important part of our interaction, however, is governed by fear. THE FIVE rules by intimidation, and I am definitely the beta in our relationship’s dominance hierarchy. I would like to say that my first experience driving on this roadway was atypical, but I think I know better now. THE FIVE will destroy you if you fall into that kind of complacent thinking. I was driving southbound to La Jolla when I noticed a pick-up truck entering the highway via a somewhat curvacious highway on-ramp. Just as my vehicle moved to parallel with this vehicle, the pick-up lost control, smashed into the sidewall, and flipped into the air, finally landing behind me on its roof. Welcome to THE FIVE, bitches.

Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, I do sympathize with THE FIVE. It’s not THE FIVE’s fault that the drivers in California are bananas. There are way too many people in way more of a rush than anyone needs to be. Californians accelerate as though they are trying to break the sound barrier. There is no gradual, gas-tank conscious build up of speed. The moment they turn their white, luxury SUV onto the highway ramp, they expect to be at highway speed (highway speed, by the way, has nothing to do with the speed limit). What this means for me is a long line of irate looking tan people trying to figure out how best to leave the Focus in their dust while I attempt to coax it above 60. I guess I just thought that Southern Californians would be a bit more relaxed as drivers than they actually are. Like, where exactly are you hurrying off to at 11:30 am on a weekday? Will the beach not be sunny again tomorrow??

So, Nate and I have a deal worked out. I drive if we are staying local and not spending too much time on the highway. He drives if we will be doing the majority of our driving on THE FIVE. While he drives, I attempt not to hyperventilate or scream when I see brake lights. Nate appreciates my efforts, but would probably prefer that I take my anxiety and hang out in the trunk. Some might say that I am avoiding, letting fear run my life, and in doing so, I am missing out on what could be a positive and meaningful relationship with THE FIVE. To those people I say, eat shit.

* In case you’re still plagued with wonder regarding those questions in the first paragraph that I asked myself while pretending to be you: 1.) Nope, singing.  2.) Always.  3.) No, but I honestly have no idea what F1 – F12 are good for.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betho
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 04:17:02

    This made me laugh and miss New York. If you and Nate ever leave CA and move to quieter spaces, you will soon realize that you contniue to drive like you were still leaving in Carlsbad and be just as frustrated with the slow drivers ( what Pat and I now call “the speed of Western Mass). It’s so painful. Miss you!


  2. alicia
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 10:17:47

    Sounds like you enjoy driving THE FIVE as much as I love driving ANYWHERE!!!


  3. Angie
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 10:20:26

    I think I peed again. No but seriously – I used caps on my last comment – take note. And I just really appreciated the paragraph that ended in: “Welcome to THE FIVE, bitches.” – I recall driving the bay bridge – intimidating in itself, but at 80mph just so I don’t get run over – awful. They are crazy bitches those Californifreaks. And it reminds me of a moment on a 5 lane busy highway in Vegas – I was following an ex (james) to his humble abode for my first ever adventure to Vegas – envision being in the farthest left passing lane, driving a modest 75pmh, then he, in his small lil Honda zipping over 4 lanes and taking the exit that was 100 yards away… me, left behind, no way to call him, no idea where t.f. I was…. there’s a reason he’s my ex.


    • californiacurls
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 12:51:16

      Oh wow, instant panic . . . what a jerk (Steve would never do that to you, haha)! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this while I was writing this post, but remember that scene in Clueless where Dionne is learning to drive and accidentally merges onto the freeway (likely THE FIVE), and they panic and scream at the top of their lungs the whole time?? I, like, totally get that now, for sure (my bad attempt at valley girl speak).


  4. Sandy
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 17:39:07

    Sorry about the trust fund…we have left it all to the cats.


  5. Liz
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 18:15:04

    F4 can be used to quickly make a cell reference absolute in excel. I think F9 is a shortcut key for ‘save as’ in most microsoft products. The more you know…


    • californiacurls
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 19:53:47

      I definitely use the shift + F7 shortcut to the thesaurus in Word. I think the row just intimidates me, like real damage could be done if I use those keys recklessly. Pretty jazzed to hear about F9 though . . . can’t mess that up . . . hopefully.


  6. Trackback: the heathers « california vernacular

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