Don’t mess with Alice…

By John Owen | Feb 16, 2012

There ought to be a law.  And violators should be sentenced to serve time on the top deck of the Kingston ferry when the captain leans on the horn for an extended warning blast.

Let the punishment fit the crime.

The "crime" in this instance is intended to force  women drivers off the road just because they happen to have white or graying hair.

Take my wife Alice.  On second thought, don't take my wife.

She's already mine and I happen to like her looks, her white hair and her driving skills.  

But let me make one observation.  If Alice were leading the Indy 500, coming around the final turn at breakneck speed, the male driver behind her would honk because he doesn't think she is driving fast enough.

It happens on Highway 99, on I-5 and even sometimes driving down Edmonds Way.  

The logic in this horn honking seems to be that (1) she is a woman (2) with white hair, ergo she must not be driving fast enough and is probably holding up somebody 24 years old who is talking on a cell phone while eating a cold slice of pizza.

I hereupon warn them to beware of one particular white haired lady else she pull over to the curb, get out of her Prius and punch a horn-blower  right in the stomach.

I warn you.  The lady has experience.  

I am thinking particularly of the day when my wife and I were walking past the KOMO studios when I spotted an old friend named Bearcat Baker.  

He was a gifted boxer while growing up in Seattle, spent several years in professional rings and the day we encountered him he was long retired and working as a security guard in the KOMO lot.

We walked over and I introduced Bearcat to my wife.

"I'm very glad to meet you missus Owen," he said with a smile. "Hit me in the stomach."

 He stood there for a minute or two, arms extended at his sides, his stomach an unguarded object.  Alice looked puzzled.

"Hit him in the stomach," I instructed her.  With some misgivings, she tapped him lightly with one hand.

"No, no," Bearcat protested.  "Hit me hard.  Right here!"

Alice gave her best effort and Bearcat seemed moderately satisfied.

"Wow!" my wife said, "it's like hitting a brick wall,” Bearcat smiled in satisfaction.  "Yeah, I do 75 sit-ups every morning."

And he absorbed Alice's best shot and came up smiling.

OK, you may ask.  Alice can dish it out.  But can she take it, too?

For evidence I recall the evening we were invited to some awards banquet for million-dollar insurance salesmen, or some such.

Washington State football coach Jim Sweeney was the motivational speaker.  

As a sportswriter and long acquaintance I was invited there to introduce the coach.  

Sweeney and my wife both had roots in Butte, Mt., so she was also given a seat of honor at the head table.

Sweeney gave a 15 minute talk, telling jokes, waving his fists, assuring all the insurance salesmen in attendance that they, too, were champions, just like  members of a triumphant Rose Bowl football team.

He finished his speech with a fist-pumping motivational message and when it ended all the salesmen stood up with a unanimous cheer.

Sweeney was pumped up by the reaction, he waved his arms, led another cheer, then turned to sit down and saw Alice's wide grin.

Instinctively, he  leaned over and punched her in the shoulder.

No offense taken between one Butte native and another.

Speaking of former residents of Butte America, we once received a phone call at the Bellevue home we then occupied.

"John," a familiar voice shouted into the phone.  This is Evel."

"What are you doing here?" I asked, hoping he was not seeking recruits to join him in another canyon jump.

He said he was showing his paintings at a nearby gallery and would appreciated Alice's view of his new profession.

We went to the gallery, saw the paintings and inspected his Winnebago which had been converted into a rolling studio.

Alice was noncommital, but later I asked for her view of Knievel's new talent.

"For starters," she said, "those paintings were the work of three or four different artists."  It's doubtful if Knievel was one of them.

But he was a Butte guy with a lot of scams.  

And he never honked the horn  on his sky-cycle at a white-haired lady because she wasn't driving fast enough on her way to the grocery store.

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