Hunting season commences on October 1 this year, for bowhunters, so Rafe and I went out one last time this weekend to check our stands for integrity. One in three hunters will experience a fall in their careers, so we are extra-diligent toward the end of remaining in the 66.6%. Thank God we’re in a Rational Age; otherwise, being in that number would surely dampen the celebration when we go marching in.
You have to understand: when I call Rafe “my friend,” I mean it only in the sense that he has a tremendous deer population on his property, and I’m kind to him in many ways so that he lets me hunt on his property. He has many small mannerisms and annoyances which prevent true friendship from developing.
For example: we were sitting together in our double buddy, which is set over the premier deer-path crossroads, as it were, where the deer are coming in from all points feeding, going toward easy water, then to all points bedding. We were pointing out to each other some of the new features another year has brought to the immediate surroundings, waiting to actually see some deer, when he suddenly asked, “Why do we drive on the right side of the road?”
“I dunno,” I said. “Convention? In Australia they drive on the left side of the road.”
“Do they?” he asked. “Is that why water spins the other way ’round when it goes down the toilet?”
“No,” I said. “It spins the other way ’round when it goes down the toilet because the moon goes around the earth the other way ’round in the Southern Hemisphere. Like a mirror image of the Northern Hemisphere.”
“No, seriously,” he said. “Isn’t there some sort of logic to the convention of driving on one side or t’other?”
“Even if there once had been, the logic is meaningless now,” I replied.
“Ah!” he exclaimed, which ruined any hope of seeing deer before sunset, and possibly changed their patterns forever. “This is what I was talking about last time, how everything is relative.”
“But it has to be relative to something.” I caught myself. I saw where he was going, but it was too late.
“So by convention, by an organic, common agreement, we drive on the right side of the road just because it works for us,” he said.
“No!” he said, again very loudly, annoying me even further. I reminded myself that I was sitting above his property. “When convention was codified, no one argued for the left side of the road, to be in communion with England or Australia? No, someone argued. Some percentage of the population strongly desired to drive on the left side of the road. In fact, I hazard to guess that there will always be a percentage of people who want to drive on the left side of the road, and they are making the same argument as you: the convention for right-side driving is founded upon baseless, logic-free, utilitarian convention.”
I stared into a distant thicket, hoping against vain hope to catch sight of movement. Alas, he continued:
“What percentage of people do you think it is?”
“I dunno, three?”
“Okay, let’s say five percent, for round numbers,” he said. “Five percent of the population is completely opposed to right-side only driving, constantly lobbying the rest of the population to allow left-side driving in addition to right-side driving.”
“Normally, the ninety-five percent would ignore the five.”
“Moreover, when it came right down to it, only two percent of the population said they would actually drive on the left-side of the road, were it conventional,” he said.
“Okay, so the ninety-eight percent would ignore the two. Or, in realistic terms, a vast majority would ignore the two percent, going on with their business.”
“Ah,” said Rafe. “But what if the two appeal to justice?”
“It’s all relative,” he said.
“But it’s all relative to something,” I argued.
“If that’s true–and it’s not–who are you to say what that something is?” he riposted. I sighed.
“Why have convention on the roads at all?” I said.
“Indeed,” said Rafe. “Many countries do not. Aren’t you the one who brags about going down to Nicaragua all the time? How’s the driving down there?”
“Says you. One man’s terror is another man’s adventure. After all, big shot, you can step in the river only–”
“Don’t!” I shouted. “Don’t you dare.” He laughed.
“What was that?” he whispered, pointing into the thicket. I stared. He stared. Minutes passed. The sun drooped toward the horizon. Presently, I felt something crawling along my thigh toward my crotch.
I swiped at it. It was Rafe’s hand!
“Hey!” I cried out. “What the–?”
He laughed, and we stared into the distance again while the light waned. After a minute he did it again, this time with his hand nearing the danger zone.
“Listen, Raphael,” I said. “You do that again, and I swear, I will throw you off this double-buddy. I promise. To the ground. I’ll tell the DEC you fell.” He laughed.
After another minute, he did it again, right on my man-parts, so I jammed my elbow into his ribs.
“Hey, cut it out,” he said. “I was just funnin’.”
“Just funnin’? With my man-parts? Who funs with another guy’s man-parts?”
“Seriously, Dave,” he said. “Teasin’. Just joshin’, yankin’ yer chain.”
“TWSS,” I said. We laughed and climbed out of the double buddy. I can’t get back out there until Friday, October 2.