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Need for Speed

By Mark D. Crantz
By Mark D. Crantz

I got caught speeding in Nebraska. I blame Laguna Beach. Here’s what happened. I was passing the exit for Kearney. This exit is just west of the better-known Lincoln exit. Lincoln is the home of the University of Nebraska and Johnny Carson. Both are icons and average four years for relationships. And like many students, Johnny red shirted a fifth year by finding a fifth wife, not named Joanne.

Readers may not remember, but Kearney came in first several years ago for water conservation. Laguna was second. It made me mad at the time of the announcement. I’ve nursed an unhealthy grudge ever since. I dream about turning the spigot on Kearney. In one scenario, I hack into the farm bureau’s irrigation system and turn the field sprinklers on 24/7. This action would water log the fields and turn the corn crop to mush. But at the end of the dream, I can’t bring myself to do it. I like corn. It brings back childhood memories of brotherly competition, where we tried to pick each row of kernels off neatly and not leave any kernel residue behind. The game was a variation of the clean plate club. Now thinking about it, I realize we must have been more bored than the Kearney kids. I grew up in Pittsburgh and didn’t have 4 H clubs like they did in Kearney. I think it would have been nice to have raised a hog, entered it in the county fair and then taken home all the bacon by winning first prize. My brother was a pig and I would have  won easily.

That’s what I was thinking about when the flashing police lights woke me from my watery reverie. “License and registration,” said the state trooper. I handed the information over to my wife to give to the officer, who had come up on the passenger side of the car, so as not to be hit by speedsters, like myself. I knew I was in big trouble. The policeman was the same size as his cruiser and my driver license picture looks exactly like Nick Nolte. I was on the verge of doing five to 10. “Mr. Crantz, you’re a dead ringer for Nick Nolte. Have you been drinking?” Geez, I was going to get life, with no chance of parole.   The trooper admonished me. “You can’t speed even when passing trucks. Come back to the cruiser, where we can talk while I run your information.”

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” asked the trooper. I informed him that I had a home in Michigan and I was coming from Laguna Beach. The trooper looked at me with that dead-eye stare that could make any innocent person confess to any and all unspeakable crimes. “Is that the MTV Laguna Beach?” he asked. I looked across at him with my Nick Nolte thousand-yard stare and answered, “Ahh, there’s that portrayal. But really, Laguna is best known for the Pageant of the Masters, a once a year event, when volunteer actors recreate great works of art on stage by standing perfectly still. “I see,” said the trooper. “You know, you could learn from that Nolte. I mean Crantz. Maybe you could slow down and think about being a little stiller yourself. Okay then. Here’s your warning. Have a safe trip.”

Well, I guess I can’t really blame Laguna. It was the Pageant explanation that helped me get out of a ticket. Whew. So readers, what’s an alternate route back to Laguna that bypasses the Cornhusker state? I have a need for speed.

Since his brush with the law, Mark has sent his driver’s license picture to Pageant artists for a detailed airbrushing and makeover. We believe the new Steve McQueen look will not serve him well in Nebraska or any other state.

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