To the Honking Boogerhead at Lake and Harlem:

To the Honking Boogerhead at Lake and Harlem:

I probably shouldn’t have given you the finger. I drive a tiny ragtop. You drive a monster black BMW. I was headed to the grocery story to feed my Cheez-it addiction. You must have been late for a meeting with the President. I’m a generally gracious Southern woman yanked up by the roots and transplanted into your not-so-fair city, so it was actually out of character for me to flip off someone at a busy intersection. At least that’s what I tell myself. And you? You’re not. Not a woman. Definitely not Southern. And far from gracious.

Turning left at Harlem and Lake is no picnic. There are always busses, which means an ample supply of pedestrians. And, that, my honking boogerhead friend, is the issue. You see, I drive that route a lot, so I know the ancient woman with the Albert Einstein hair and the four-pronged aluminum walker will make several false starts to cross there. It’s a short light, and she will step into the street then hobble back onto the curb several times. At the last minute she will forge ahead, taking what’s left of this green light and more. I imagine she’s sweating with exertion and fear in that faded plaid wool coat. If I live in Chicago when I am that age (God forbid!) I would hope someone would be looking out for me as I screw up my courage to cross four lanes of traffic with a shopping bag and a walker. You, however, even with your superior view from your luxury automobile, decided that honking at me would speed things along. She froze like a deer on a country lane, and you laid into your horn for all you were worth. Evidently you are in the one percent.

What is it about the horn, anyway? I used to spend some time in the Caribbean, and people honk there all the time. It’s more of a toot, though. A short, friendly blast to say hello, to begin a traffic version of Chip and Dale: “After you.” “No, after you. I insist.” Here it is bossy, angry, annoying. Sometimes you are the tenth car back at the light and feel compelled to honk the instant the light turns green. Good reflexes, dude. Practicing for Jeopardy? I’ll take Illinois laws for $500, Alec.

When I moved here I had to take a written exam to trade in my South Carolina license. It made sense. Out-of-state drivers need to know the nuances of Illinois law. Did you know we must STOP, not just yield, to a pedestrian until they’ve crossed? I bet you think holding your cell phone flat in your hand and shouting into the speaker is talking hands free, too. On page 82 of the official driver’s manual it lists the signs of aggressive driving. “Repeatedly honking the horn” is one of them. Inappropriate hand signals to another driver is too. Ok, you got me there.

I considered a honking Boogerhead website where I would post license plate numbers for you and your ilk. The honking Boogerhead in the green Jeep SUV with his palm on his horn who sped around me only to block the US 41 ramp. The Boogerhead who waited until the last four feet of “one lane ahead” to cut in and blasted me as if I were the unprepared one. You’re multiplying beyond all comprehension. Think Invasion of the Boogerheads would kill at the box office?

“It’s the City that makes people that way,” a woman from Rome told me last week, as if cold plus cloudy plus congested equals childish.

So, childish it is. Boogerhead. Like fartface, it’s a playground insult, the worst word a three-year-old can muster up. I can see you in your Spidey briefs, knees level with your chin, spinning those big wheel tires on the sidewalk. You drive with one hand. The other is clamped to that bulbous horn between the handlebars, honking at anything that moves, or doesn’t. Above the rumble of plastic on concrete, you may hear buzzing. That would be me chanting “Boogerhead, Boogerhead, Spidey is a Boogerhead.” Now go on home to your momma.