Saturday, May 31, 2008

Column: How I learned to stop worrying and love the high gas prices


As you may have noticed over the last few weeks, people have different ways of reacting the first time they see gas on sale for more than $4 a gallon. For instance, some stop in the middle of the road and bang their head against the steering wheel; others sit in their cars and sob uncontrollably; and still others take a nine iron to the hood of their Chevy Suburban, like Jack Nicholson might do to a car that cuts him off on Hollywood Boulevard.

But me, I just smiled. That’s because I see the silver lining in devastatingly high gas prices, and with a little positive thinking, you can too. So when you feel yourself start to hyperventilate at the pump, just keep the following 10 things in mind:

1) You have the perfect excuse for not mowing your lawn, now that you’ve worked your way through all your other excuses (it just rained, it looks like it’s going to rain, it will just grow back, etc.). Of course, there are people who will remind you that if you’re concerned about gas prices, you can still use a manual push reel mower. I hate those people.

2) No more of those pesky summer family vacations featuring long, boring drives to faraway places. Now you can get on each other’s nerves and yell at each other in the comfort of your own home, just like the rest of the year.

3) You don’t have to spend your nights worrying that the Saudi royal family will be unable to handle the skyrocketing cost of hummus.

4) You can avoid that vague but undeniable taste of petroleum in your hamburgers by shutting off the gas grill and cooking meat the way our forebears did: on top of a pile of charcoal briquettes that have been soaked in so much lighter fluid that when you toss the match in, they generate a fireball like the ones that unfurl behind Bruce Willis in the “Die Hard” movies.

5) More people will be inspired to walk places. In fact, I predict it won’t be long before hundreds of SUV owners are walking to work down Route 128, dodging Priuses and deer.

6) Having to shell out 50 bucks to fill your tank will keep you from wasting that money on expensive frivolities, like milk.

7) You can console yourself with the widely reported fact that gas is still much cheaper than Starbucks coffee, which actually comes out to $70.88 per gallon. No word on how this is expected to affect the sales of the new 2009 Toyota Macchiato, not to mention the job prospects of a whole generation of snooty and condescending “fuelistas.”

8) If you happen to live next door to an executive from Exxon-Mobil, you might be able to sneak into his yard and use his Olympic-sized outdoor heated pool and Jacuzzi spa while he’s wintering in the Maldives.

9) When people notice how much you smell like french fries, you can tell them it’s because you drive an environmentally friendly car powered by cooking oil from fast-food restaurants. You’ll still have to come up with your own reason as to why you smell like bourbon.

10) We’ll finally be motivated to give up on our oversized vehicles and come up with reasonably priced, environmentally sound alternative energy sources that reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Ha ha ha! Just kidding about that last one — a little devastatingly high gas prices humor. Now if you need me I’ll be outside soaking my briquettes.

Peter Chianca is a CNC managing editor and the brains behind “The At Large Blog” (chianca-at-large.blogspot.com) and “The Shorelines Blog” (blogs.townonline.com/shorelines).

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