One of my roommates ,way back when I was a college student , had an old Volkswagon bus which I took out once into the wilds of Westwood . Westwood , where UCLA is , at that time was an active place . My roommate lent me his bus but warned me not to hit the horn .
I don’t hit the horn as a rule , but some jerk cut me off there in Westwood and , not thinking , I hit the horn . The horn beeped . That surprised me because I knew that his horn didn’t work . But then , immediately , the engine quit . The horn worked and the engine immediately quit . What ? And I was stuck .
” Make sure you don’t hit the horn ,” Don had said . ” It doesn’t work anyway , but it’s connected to the engine . Just don’t hit the horn. ”
” No , sure , no problem ,” I said . I was thinking : horn connected to the engine ? Huh ? You got to be kidding ! But , whatever , I don’t ride the horn anyway .
” Don’t eat that apple , you two , ” comes to mind from my old bible studies . And don’t honk that horn .
I had to call my roommate , Don , from a phone booth . The old VW bus had stalled somewhere along a busy Westwood street . I was ready to answer his question about hitting the horn . ” Yeah , I know you told me not to . ” Fait accompli . What’a ya gonna do !
Cars used to have real horns . Nowadays they have squeaky little beep beep horns like that little VW bus horn . I had to beep a guy today . Maybe that’s what triggered this post , these random memories . The little beeps of modern horns won’t intimidate anyone . They’re like woosie little pleading squeaks : Excuse me , sir . Please sir , could you consider getting out of the way ? If you don’t mind . Beep.
Horns have lost their virility . Watered -down their identity . Weakened . Changed their role in society . Toned down ; softened ; become non-aggressive . Are roads kinder now , though , more peaceful places as a result ? Maybe so . Maybe not . You be the judge .
My 94 year old neighbor , another Don , came up with a business idea a few weeks ago . It was on his mind for a couple of weeks . ” Horns .” I felt like he wanted me to pick up the standard and run with it . After all , he’s ninety-four . He pitched the idea to me with hopeful old eyes that seemed to say : How fast could I run ? I’m 94 . You’ll have to do it , Dan .
” Horns , Don ? ” , I responded . Don explained his idea : With more and more cars on the roads the more times you’ll be cut off by reckless drivers , he said . A driver’s frustrations are bound to increase . The more need arises , then , for a loud assertive horn , he said . There’s a market out there , he said .
Yeah . Don doesn’t even drive anymore , thank God .
I had to honk at a guy today in Hollywood . He wouldn’t go out into the intersection as he waited to make his left turn . He hung way back behind the white line and left all that intersection space vacant . Our two cars could have fit out there , ready for the oncoming traffic to clear . If the light changed to yellow , we’d be able to make the turn . I beeped him . In Hollywood the traffic is horrendous and the left turn arrows don’t last long . You’ve got to squeeze out into that intersection just to get a turn in if you don’t want to be sitting there waiting the rest of your life to make your turn .
So here’s a guy inexplicably waiting behind the white line . And I’m behind him . I’ll be here forever . Even his car won’t be able to turn by the time the light changes . What’s he thinking !
I honked my little weakling beepy horn and the guy moved forward a little , enough for me to nose out into the intersection , too . What , he wanted to be alone on the turn ?
Maybe my old neighbor Don is right , in a way . Sometimes a real loud and aggressive horn would come in handy . Shouldn’t we have loud horns ? Does that come under the Second Amendment rights somehow ? Or , is it First Amendment ? Eighth ?
People told me after the Westwood experience all those many years ago that , yeah , Volkswagons are like that . Their horns are connected weirdly to their engines . Well , no one told me that before I honked . But , I admit , I had been warned not to honk .
A lot of things in life don’t make a lot of sense , if you ask me .
Los Angeles folks tend not to honk much . Not , anyway , since car horns have been so emasculated , feminized , wimpisized , and cars have been stuck with horns that are mere satirical shadows of what they might have been , of what they once were . Ah , but things change !
That old Volkswagon horn was wimpy , too , now that I think of it . I suppose it wasn’t much of a loss , after all , when that little beepy horn wouldn’t work . I wish I had taken my roommate’s admonition more to heart , though . Maybe I could have kept myself from hitting the horn . After all , it took me a few extra hours to get home when the engine quit . Well , we all have our little mini Adam and Eve moments , I guess, when we’re thrown out of Paradise for some spontaneousy stupid move . Eh ?
Anyway , it’s Christmas . I’ve never heard that Santa’s sleigh has a horn . No need , no doubt . He comes upon no intersections crammed with questionable drivers making bonehead moves . Santa doesn’t have to wait at busy intersections , watching traffic , waiting . He’d never get all the presents delivered if he did . I’m pretty sure that Santa never suffers such frustrations as dealing with lousy drivers on traffic-clogged roadways or worries about the histories and mysteries of car horns . That’s , probably , one of the things that makes him jolly .
Happy Christmas horns , everyone ! ( French horns, and cornets , and little toy toot toots…….)