Bonkers Honkers

 Bonkers Honkers

By Sean McVeigh

Whistling has always been a frequent topic of discussion in my family; the main talking point being how my sister can’t whistle. The rest of us are nothing special, mind you — just your run-of-the-mill whistlers. We can keep a tune, you know?

Rockaway has some legendary whistlers. The rupture-an-adjacent-eardrum kind of whistlers. Come on, don’t lie, someone just popped into your head. The loud whistle is both a blessing and a curse — just ask the person standing next to the whistler. It’s a skill that mustn’t be overused. As the late, great Stan Lee once wrote about a young man named Peter Parker (whose whistling ability I can only imagine is impeccable and is probably what Stan was referring to) all those years ago, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

We have all been next to that guy at a sports game who thinks that the Yankees can’t win unless the International Space Station can hear his whistle from the bleachers. I imagine this has been an unfortunate occurrence since the beginning of sports. “WHOOEE-UUEET! Come on Aurelius, you can run this extremely long 26-mile footrace from Marathon to Athens! … Man, I hope they come up with an easier way to say that … PHOOWEET PHOOWEET!”

A wise higher power only gave this ability to a certain few people. You can debate about whether he chose correctly, but that is above my pay grade. I am just thankful that he was not more generous with his whistling ability granting that day. But we humans, the fallen beings we are, were envious. We took it upon ourselves to decide that we all needed the ability to create a blaring and annoying noise whenever we wanted. It just isn’t fair that only some can do this. When the first cars came rolling along, we saw an opportunity … and thus the car horn was invented.

If Rockaway has some “legendary” whistlers, then I don’t know what category to put New York honkers in. Honking is one of those things that we all find so preposterously rude until it is your turn to lay on that horn. When the time comes, we unleash hell upon the Toyota Camry in front of us who is going 10 mph in a 25 zone, usually being skippered by a confused, lost, old woman just looking for the right turn that the voice on her phone said would be approaching … 10 minutes ago.

Few things can bring my blood from 98.6 degrees to 212 degrees faster than being at a red light and, within milliseconds of it turning green, having someone behind you honk as if they have been stuck waiting there since last Sunday. I want to throw the car in park and punish them, but I’ve got places to be, too, and I suppose my bark is a little bigger than my bite.

I understand that we need a loud enough noise to get over the sound of traffic and through an enclosed car, but I just think we can do better. Do I have any real suggestions for a replacement? Of course not. It is one of those things that is nowhere near the top of any intelligent enough person’s list that I don’t think we can expect a less brain-piercing solution anytime soon.

At least we are slowly saying farewell to the archaic habit of honking outside someone’s home when you are picking them up. We have cell phones for that. But now those last few Luddites who still choose to let their would-be passenger, and, consequently, his entire block, know that they are outside are even more so the bane of my existence.

The real issue is that people get trigger-happy. Sure, when that guy forgets to look both ways and almost serves up a T-bone for dinner, there is nothing wrong with giving him the business to wake him up from whatever daydream he’s in. But most of the time, that same force is used when a nice little toot would’ve sufficed. In a classic catch-22, the horn feathering that I would like to see is a skill that only comes with practice. Just what we need, people practicing honking their horns. “PHOOWEET … Great honk! Keep up the good work!”

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