Monty Crest’s commute to work only took about 45 minutes, but it always seemed so much longer. The vanpool he joined last November saved him the aggravation of navigating daily through gridlock, but it came with a price.
The other people he shared his daily ride to and from his job in the city as an architect were driving him insane. The more he tried to ignore their idiosyncrasies, the more they came into focus. He finally went beyond trying to ignore their annoying traits and one day amused himself by secretly giving each of his van-mates descriptive “Seinfeld”-esque nicknames (“Man Hands,” “Close Talker,” etc.).
First there was Buttinksy (Herb Ferkel). Monty was stunned one morning as he dug into a new novel and Herb just started talking to him as if he couldn’t see that he was trying to read. No “excuse me” or anything was offered. Monty wanted to say that he wasn’t just reading the book to kill time before someone came and talked to him, but he didn’t.
Next was Mock McFerrin (Charlie Murphy) who always had his headphones on and would sing along to the music. Only he didn’t actually sing, he mimicked the sounds of the particular instruments in whatever song he was listening to.
Now, when Bobby McFerrin did that, it was a musical treat. Charlie’s vocal orchestrations, however, were “musical” torture. What was worse was that he listened to a wide variety of music, so in addition to standard instruments like drums and guitars, he also did excruciating reproductions of rather exotic ones like the sitar, hammered dulcimer, alphorns and didgeridoo.
Cara Phipps was the Nose Picker/Secret Pooter. She would turn her head to the side facing the window and force her pointer finger up her schnozzle dang near to the knuckle and go to town. Monty wouldn’t have cared except she was also one of those people who touched you – a lot – when they talked to emphasize certain words. Yuck.
It took Monty awhile to figure out who the secret farter was, but by the process of elimination he discovered it was Cara who was surreptitiously floating noxious “silent but deadly” air biscuits. So she was doubly disgusting.
The Storyman (Kevin Micheals) was similar to Buttinsky Herb, except he was much worse. At least when Herb interrupted you, it was to talk about a compelling movie scene or tell a dirty joke or something interesting. Kevin was one of those people who told long story after long story that had numerous details, but no payoff.
It didn’t help that he also sounded exactly like Ben Stein going “Bueller . . . Bueller . . . Bueller.” One night Monty watched one of his favorite movies, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” on Netflix and one scene resonated in relation to Kevin.
It was when Neal Page (Steve Martin) was fed up with Dell Griffith (John Candy)’s incessant stories. Monty memorized the rant that Page delivered and dreamed of spewing a paraphrased version at Kevin.
“You know, everything is not an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing or interesting. You’re a miracle! Your stories have NONE of that. They’re not even amusing ACCIDENTALLY! And by the way, you know, when you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea – have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!”
Dr. Freezeout Nicotine Shotgun (Marcus Hightower) was a chiropractor who daily demanded to ride shotgun and no one would have cared except that he always rolled the window down no matter how cold it was. That would have been bad enough, but he was also a heavy smoker. He could not smoke in the van, but the cigarette smell that was plastered onto his body blew off like the dust on the Peanuts character Pig Pen when he had the window down – which again he always did.
Coming up with the colorful nicknames made Monty’s commute halfway bearable that day. Unfortunately when they arrived home that evening, he was told they unanimously voted to boot him out of the vanpool because he was just too boring.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].