I was thinking about this yesterday as we headed to the horse barn via Prairie Meadows where Heidi was participating in the NaNoWriMo kick-off meeting. I’m nothing if not disturbingly predictable when it comes to how fast I’m willing to drive. I usually feel pretty comfortable anywhere between zero and 5 miles an hour over the speed limit. Sometimes I’ll push it and do 7 miles an hour over, but it depends on what the posted speed limit is. I’m totally ok with doing 72 in a 65, but for some reason, 77 in a 70 just seems excessive. Don’t get me started on 82 in a 75. The speed limit for most of the way to the horse barn is 70 mph, and usually, I set the cruise on 74 mph and feel pretty comfortable. Depending on the traffic, this is either God-awful slow or faster than everybody else driving. Because I’m also not one of those guys that likes to weave in and out of traffic to arrive at my destination 30 seconds before I would have otherwise, sometimes, I’ll just settle in behind someone in the right hand lane rather than feel like I need to pass them and then go fast enough so that they’re not compelled to pass me.
I’m not a dummy – I don’t hang out in the left hand lane with a mile long line of people cussing me out and waiting for me to move the hell back into the right hand lane. I know that if you’re going to drive the speed limit, you need to be in the right hand lane. I also alter my driving strategy when I’m in a big city. Driving in Chicago, the speed limit really is a suggestion. You go with the flow or you get run over when you’re driving the 290 into downtown Chicago. Sometimes, driving too slow really is as dangerous as driving too fast. Still, if I think too much about my tendency to not speed crazily down the interstate, I can start to feel a little bit bad about my own sense of masculinity. Isn’t the society-approved definition of masculinity involve speeding past slow drivers, honking and giving them the finger? FFS, my own wife drives faster than I do – I sometimes think that she is driven slightly crazy because of my refusal to drive super fast. I feel judged by the world at large for how I drive, which I know is not usually exceedingly fast and is sometimes done in by the difficulty I have in filtering out unimportant stimuli.
I will admit that 95% of the reason I don’t speed excessively is because I just don’t want to be bothered with getting a speeding ticket. My wife got her first one in many years this summer on the first day of our vacation. They are annoying and, I might add, expensive. I always was a rule-follower growing up and, well, I guess some things just don’t change.
Is driving the speed limit inherently unmanly? Or will it, by keeping guys like me alive, make sure that our genes are passed on, creating generation after generation of 74 in a 70 drivers?
Who really knows, but this meme that I saw on Reddit a few months back really summed it up well for me.