Texas Aggression vs. LA Aggression

I’ve recently discovered that there’s a fundamental difference between Texas road rage and LA road rage. They’re both vicious, but in different ways. Neither is worse than the other. Except LA road rage is absolutely worse. But I’ll get to that.

In Texas, the left lane is a coveted area to control; sort of the Texas version of the Autobahn. In fact, there are “official” Department of Transportation signs that actually say: “left lane is for passing only.” But we won’t waste our time with unrealistic fantasies.

By saying this, I don’t mean it’s difficult to get into the left lane – in fact it’s quite simple. You put on your blinker and turn the wheel (I take that back; it’s way easier said than done). However, once people get into this lane, they don’t feel the need to move, regardless of how far below the speed limit they are traveling. We will henceforth refer to these evidently illiterate drivers as “Slowmobiles.” To them, the left lane is like retirement – they had to work pretty hard to get there, and once they’ve arrived, ain’t no one gonna make them go back. And this is where the aggression commences.

Everyone behind Slowmobile is going 90 and joke’s on you, Slowmobile, if you think they’re planning on slowing down. These drivers have several options. Option A: get right up on the bumper of Slowmobile and then aggressively move into the right lane, speed up, and promptly switch back into the left lane inches in front of Slowmobile. Option B: realize that life is too short to have road rage and slow down to Slowmobile’s pace (Lol). Option C: speed up even more until you could be mistaken for a passenger in Slowmobile’s backseat and lay on your horn until the cows come home (literally. I mean, Texas.). Of course there are tons of other options – maybe two more – but these are generally the go-to’s.

I, myself, usually go for option A because I’m a passive aggressive road rager. I want to get my point across, but I’d also like to quickly be on my way.

The thing is, this scenario doesn’t just apply to highways. This happens in neighborhoods, on access roads, in school zones, in open roadless fields, I mean there’s no area out there that is safe from the wrath of Texan drivers. And the more aware of it I become, the more sociopathic it seems. Betsy Jo awakens to a lovely, sunshiney day. She has breakfast with the fam, kisses her dog goodbye, and heads off for work. Betsy Jo gets stuck behind some lunatic going 50 in the left lane. Betsy Jo loses it. Betsy Jo furiously honks and tailgates until she finally accepts that her actions are in fact making this car drive even more slowly. Betsy Jo whips into the right lane, then back to the left just to make her point, then back to the right and takes her exit. Betsy Jo calmly parks her car and strolls into work, greeting everyone with a smile as she continues her peaceful morning.

What?! How does Betsy Jo compartmentalize like that? Could Betsy Jo also go rob a bank and then pick up her kids from school as if nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened? I do not trust Betsy Jo. Although, regrettably, I am Betsy Jo. We are all Betsy Jo.

Texas road aggression is real, yes. But it’s a choice. LA road aggression essentially keeps you alive. Without it, you’re a goner. The difference: in Texas, your road rage is on the offensive. Your team has the ball and you just want to score (stay with me), but in LA, you’re on defense. You’re just trying not to get trampled because you know the ref won’t be giving you that charge call. You’re about to foul out and be on your way to purchasing a new car.

All 87 lanes are jam-packed with vehicles, so there’s really no use in trying to get into the left lane. The “left lane” concept that I took for granted for so long is obsolete here. The goal is no longer to reach your destination as quickly as possible; the goal is to reach it at all.

Sounds terrifying? Yeah I KNOW. If you’re a nice person in middle school, everyone tends to walk all over you. I grew up thinking that kindness was, like, important, so basically I was a middle school doormat. I can’t afford to be an LA road doormat. I’m really reaching with these metaphors, y’all. I guess I’m still shaken up from today’s drive. Nothing in particular happened. Just the fact that I had to drive has me a little apprehensive. The recovery process doesn’t gradually get any easier.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hear honking in my dreams at night. Yesterday, I apparently I left work at a magical time because, by some miracle, I was able to drive 60 on the highway for upwards of 3 and a half minutes. It was the strangest feeling – I haven’t driven that fast since 2015. I felt free. I felt like anything and everything I want to accomplish in life is ripe for the picking. But soon enough, it was back to jammed lanes and tuning out everyone’s venomous yelling by blasting Usher’s reassuring voice.

 

Road rage exists. In some places, you choose it. In other places, it chooses you. To all my passengers, both past and future, know that I am deeply sorry. To all the other cars on the road with me, know that I accept your forthcoming apologies.

Our Sexist World

I’ve only been working in Hollywood for a few weeks and, granted, I’m simply a lowly intern, but I’ve already been witness to the unbelievably rampant sexism in this industry (and just in general). So let’s get something straight, once and for all: men are more than just pieces of meat.

Ladies, be honest. At least a few times in your life, you’ve noticed a hott gentleman walking down the street or at a bar and been tempted to whistle at him or use one of your creative, well-thought-out pickup lines. I hope most of you resisted that urge. But, realistically, I know a lot of you went through with it.

Dudes have enough problems without also being burdened with shielding women from their tempting physical beauty. It’s common knowledge that boys dress for other boys; a female’s opinion probably doesn’t even enter his decision-making process when he reaches for that tight white V-neck. So, just because he prefers clothes that feature his best assets doesn’t give us the right to assume it’s strictly for our pleasure. Yes, that man is wearing a smokin’ hott flannel and glasses. By no means should I insinuate that he wants me to ask for his number and then call it right there on the spot to ensure its validity.

And if you decide to be that creep who egotistically approaches him on his Boys Night Out, at least buy drinks for his whole crew. They’re all well aware of the gender wage gap and they know you can afford it.*

Men are constantly judged solely by their appearance. Can we not accept that they have brains and feelings as well? I can’t even count the number of casting calls I’ve seen for “sexy male extra in dramedy about a female surgeon” or “tall, muscular man to be eye candy for successful businesswoman lead.” I just hope one day, we put more of an emphasis on his talent than on his chest size. Not that men can’t have both. Am I right, Hugh Jackman? But it certainly needs to be more of a balance.

These dudes are human beings. Human beings who sometimes don’t feel like shaving their faces or waxing their chests. And when those times come, let’s not make them feel unworthy or ignored. Each one has a voice and a unique perspective to bring to the table. Each one matters. His weight may be fluctuating, but his work ethic grows stronger each day.

So girls, next time you consider approaching a man at a club and insisting he go home with you, think about your dad, your brother, your nephew. Would you want them to experience that kind of pressure? Would you want them to have to endure a line like “Your body is on fire. Luckily I’m a firewoman.”? (Reconsider that line anyway, ladies – it doesn’t particularly make sense.) Stop assuming every fellow you meet is dying for your attention or approval. Sometimes boys just wanna have fun.

 

*It was recently brought to my attention that women do not in fact make more money than men on average. I apologize for this inaccuracy.

 

 

A Vegas Tale

This past weekend, I made my first trip to Vegas. Unlike many places I’ve been, Vegas is in fact just as the movies portray it. As you walk down the street, people shout things at you like, “Quit hydrating with water! Take this shot instead!” I wasn’t sure if they were referring to an alcoholic beverage or a bullet from a gun because either one would’ve killed me before 11 am.

Naturally, we casino’d. Here’s my story. Learn from it.

Painfully aware of my constantly terrible luck, I began with fairly conservative gambling. A few bucks here and there on machines chosen strictly because I could generally navigate them by pressing all the buttons until something spun or flashed. I wasn’t making any kind of profit, and feeling pretty literally down on my luck, until something caught my eye. In the distance, was my machine. Was it a mirage? Was it a dream? No. It was Ellen DeGeneres’s slot machine.

I immediately concluded that this Ellen-themed slot machine would determine my fate. She’s a pretty giving person. Generosity is literally in her name. There’s no way I could lose money, right? She boasts a platform of kindness and laughter, two qualities that are wholly dictated by earthly riches. Surely winning is the only option this machine offers.

I was suddenly overcome with confidence and certainty. My luck was about to change. I strolled over to Ellen, assuredly preparing for my destiny, and inserted a crisp 20-dollar bill. You may be thinking, “wow Katie, you sure are a terribly risky gambler,” and you’d be right. Damn straight I’m a gambler (I chose to not hear the first two adjectives you used). As the machine validated my money, the screen and buttons lit up and Ellen’s encouraging, sassy voice came on to welcome me to the game and explain the instructions. It was a relatively basic slot machine; you pulled the lever and could get any image from Ellen’s face to her chair to a “dance party” bonus. I made my bet and pulled the lever. “Aw, well that’s ok. We can’t all be good at something.” What? Why would you say that to me, Ellen? Perhaps it was just a fluke. I’d win something the next round.

I pulled the lever and used my second credit. “Someone needs to get a day job.” How dare you Ellen. You are my hero. Or at least, you were. I lost all $20. I’m ashamed to tell you how much more I lost in an attempt to prove myself to Ellen. Dejected and disheartened, I hobbled away from the machine like a wounded prey. I felt like a failure. I felt like everything I’d ever done up to this point in my life had been for nothing.

I thought to myself, “Beyoncé (I call myself Beyoncé), you don’t just come to Vegas every day. Ignore Ellen and go win money elsewhere.” I silently perked up and won $30 at Wheel Of Fortune. Good job me!

I should’ve walked away. I should’ve pocketed my money and rewarded myself with 3 pairs of $10 sunglasses at the gift shop. What a deal. But alas, my inner college intramural participant told me to go back. Go back to Ellen and prove to her, and to myself, once and for all that I AM WORTHY.

So, brows furrowed and teeth gritted (the least approachable person in that casino I’m sure), I sauntered over to Ellen, cocked my head, looked the machine up and down, and sat. I could’ve eased into it, felt out the waters, but no. I jammed in all $30 and pulled that lever like I’ve never pulled a lever before (it’s unimportant to note that I had never pulled a lever until this day).

 

 

Readers, you’ve made it this far, and so I wish I could give you a better, more satisfying resolution to my tale than the one I’m going to tell you. I lost $30 in less than 4 minutes.

But don’t hate on Ellen. My friend Olivia came to find me and I told her to try the machine. She spent $5 and won $30. I was too bewildered to even cry.

 

Gambling is a risky game. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. I lost every time. But I kept going. I’ve always heard that it’s not about how often you fall; it’s about how often you pick yourself back up. But if you fall in a Las Vegas casino, for the love of Ellen, STAY DOWN.