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Seeing black and red in parking lots

On the supermarket parking lot my car, which is car-size, is walled in, as usual, by two sport-utility vehicles.

They are called SUVs for short, but they are not short. They are tall. What's short is my car.

Also, of late, my temper. I am starting to have seizures of parking-lot rage. I sometimes see red when, emerging grocery-laden from the supermarket, I find my car walled in by two SUVs.

Literally speaking, of course, what I see is black, since SUVs, for some sinister reason, all come sheathed in black glass. Trying to peer through the blackness to see what's on the other side of these colossal machines is like trying to see to the bottom of the dank tarn of Auber in the misty mid-region of Weir.

I suspect it's a scheme cooked up by the SUV sales division to sell more of its odious produce. When trapped between black walls, sane drivers must back out ever so painfully, cautiously, slowly, offering the back end of the car as a probe to determine whether drivers of any unseeable oncoming vehicles are sufficiently annoyed to knock it off.

If filled with parking-lot rage, however, you may back out of the black trap at high speed, just to show the world it had better not mess with a tough and crazy guy.

The colossus industry probably thinks that after your car has been destroyed in one of these outbursts of suicidal rage, you will wise up, surrender to the fad and buy a black-sheathed colossus of your own.

Forget it, you greedy auto-industry tycoons of the United States and Japan. I will not be bullied out of my sensible car by your brutish, black-sheathed monsters.

Often, on trips to the supermarket, I take a guest along to help pilot me through the perils of the parking lot's land-bound Titanics.

In exchange for an exhilarating ride to the supermarket, the guest has only to stand back with a police whistle to restrain oncoming traffic when I am backing out of the typical black hole.

It's not always easy, though, to find people willing to drop everything and come along to test their courage against parking-lot traffic. Once you could have hired a sassy kid to do the job for a nickel, but nowadays only a madman would invite ruin and jail by offering to pay money to a kid not his own.

So I have this gnawing sense of imminent breakdown. What is this absurd boom in sport-utility vehicles if not a plot to make me miserable, possibly even a plot to destroy me if I refuse to join the crowd and buy an immense trucklike machine?

Walled in on parking lots, I find myself wondering what the ideal tool would be for slashing tires. A razor? Too flimsy. An ax? Too showy. People notice men carrying axes. A gun would attract less attention, but shooting tires wouldn't be as satisfying as slashing them, would it?

Such childish revenge fantasies are not only unworthy of a good liberal, but also dangerous.

For example: Sometimes when I am driving at night, my rear-view mirror fills with blinding light. A vast sport-utility vehicle is right behind me. Because of its ridiculous height, its headlights shine straight into the normal car's rear-view mirror, blinding the driver and inviting him to crash into a boulder-strewn field where, if he survives, he may be expected to say, "Next time I'd better buy a sport-utility vehicle."

At such times, I think how sweet it would be to let insanity rule and brake so violently that the front end of the pursuing monster would be wiped out. The toll on my car and self would be terrible, of course. Better to curse and pull off the road.

Yes, my hatred for these truck-like machines is irrational. The sensible thing is to put my car up on blocks and stay home until a good genie pops out of a bottle and obeys my command to destroy them all.

How nasty to harbor a passion against poor dumb mechanical beasts. Am I becoming a tyrannical zealot like the anti-smoking police who terrorize any and all who light tobacco in their presence? If backed by power comparable to that of the anti-smoking movement, would I punish SUV drivers with equal zeal?

Well, why not? Anti-SUV zealots of America, we have nothing to lose but our black-glass prison walls. Rise!

New York Times News Service