Free For All

Dark storm clouds were getting their game face on, tossing lightning back and forth as I walked across Key Bridge, the one named for Francis Scott Key, who gave us “The Star Spangled Banner,” the world’s worst national anthem, when I saw a driver execute a sudden, and I would guess, highly illegal u-turn in the middle of the bridge.

The traffic around him braked and swerved to avoid him as he whipped a u-ee and took off back to Georgetown. Perhaps he’d forgotten his wallet. Or suddenly realized that the only girl he ever loved was back there, soon to be lost to him forever (cue soundtrack). Or . . . maybe he just figured, “What the hell, why shouldn’t I?”

Well, setting aside issues of public safety, general adult responsibility and civil order, it could be argued that there was no actual sign forbidding the maneuver. And it could be further argued that creative driving is as much an inherent right in this country as the right to pursue pursue happiness – in whatever insane manner one chooses.

In truth, in this country, the right to be reckless, ridiculous, and a little bit nuts is one of our more cherished notions. Although our nation is founded on a firm platform of law, we began as revolutionaries, and the call of the wild card remains potent in our deck. We are a nation of innovators, risk takers, rule breakers. It runs in our genes to admire outlaws and thieves, as long as they accomplish their feats with flair and without hurting the innocent.

Perhaps we’ve all watched too many movies. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that, until some fool tries to drive as if he were in a Hollywood chase scene, forcing the rest of us to be his expendable extras.

Ah well. It’s the Fourth of July. Time to celebrate our freedoms, which apparently, in the minds of some, includes the right to act like idiots.

So here’s to you, USA. Long may you wave, strike up the bands, set off fireworks, play ball, etc., etc.

But maybe go easy on the crazy.