Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Mini-Van Experiment

“Are you kidding me? I didn’t even do anything yet!” Tom barks, his hands ten and two on the steering wheel. We'd been on the road for exactly eight seconds when the guy beeped at us. Vigorously. It’d been happening all week, the flagrant and promiscuous honking.

We make sure to flick a really respectable Jersey salute, as you do in such situations, and move on. Or at least I move on, but Tom continues to ruminate. He sorts out the facts. “I think it’s this mini-van,” he says finally. “And the Pennsylvania plates. The combination makes people around here go ballistic."

Aha. Now I’m paying attention.

I snap into immediate action. This is an experiment with my name on it and a short window of opportunity. We’d been left in charge of my parents sky blue Honda mini-van while they hike around Ecuador. We only have a few more days to collect data. All I want to do is drive in and out of the Holland Tunnel with a spreadsheet entitled, “Are New York Area Drivers Spasmodically AssChafed by Mini-Vans with PA Plates?"

You shouldn’t be surprised. I’m a trained non-scientist. I apprentice under my father. He has a well-deserved reputation for haphazard and completely unrigorous scientific examinations. For example:

  • After my nephew climbed up a ladder, Pop set a mousetrap at the bottom of a ladder and told Jack not to step on it. (I strongly suspect this may have been an experiment to see what I would do, more than a check on Jack’s survival skills.)
  • When I was three, Pop followed me around with a clipboard and counted how many words I could say. Occasionally, he references the final tally.
  • He hid toys from us and observed our attempts to find them. If you cottoned onto his ploy, he would blandly tell you that he was merely “watching to see what you would do,” and walk out.
Most recently, my pop sent this animated GIF to all of his children and children-in-law:

Let’s take a closer gander. Upon inquiry as to the purpose and nature of the communication, Pop replied that he was “experimenting with his new iPhone.” If a normal person said this, you’d think he meant investigating the functionality of group messaging. 
But we’re talking about my father here. So I suspect he hoped to reveal how we all might respond to a lavishly epileptic meme.

All I’m saying is that as a family, we demonstrate remarkable perseverance in the pursuit of genuinely bad ideas. And I’m squarely in my dad’s calvary.
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