At the risk of sounding like a hater, I HATE flashers.
I don’t mean folks who like to show you their bits. Unless you’re talking about Rihanna. If I ever see any of Rihanna’s bits, ever again, I will pluck out my own eyeballs.
I mean motorists who think it’s the done thing to flash you with their headlights for no discernible reason.
Take the other day. There I am, driving along the country road into my village, when a motorist flashes me.
I check the speedometer. The instrument panel. The mirrors. Nothing.
A second motorist flashes me, then a third, this time with eye-melting LED headlights that emit more light than a nuclear explosion. In a state of high anxiety, overwhelmed by the mind-altering pain of the retinal burn, I consider the following possibilities:
a) There is a corpse on my car roof.
b) The radiator grille is spewing out Plague.
c) The flesh-eating flying demon from Jeepers Creepers is preparing to swoop down on my car and eat my head.
d) I have become invisible, rendering the car (apparently) driverless.
e) There is a gigantic bomb strapped to the bumper.
I pull into a cul-de-sac of executive housing. I am five minutes from home, maybe less, but if I continue driving, the car will explode. I also notice a police car parked in a lay-by up ahead. Drive onwards, and I will be committing an unprecedented range of serious motoring offences.
A man walking his dog meets my gaze. He looks concerned. I get out of the car to look busy. I check the tyres. I check the bonnet. I have no actual clue what I’m looking for. I may as well be looking at a diagram of the Higgs Boson particle.
"You allright?" says the man.
“Yes, fine thanks, just checking for locusts, intestines, explosives, wraiths, that kind of thing! Ha ha ha! You know how it is!”
Obviously I don’t say any of this. People here have a positive outlook. They get up early. They have good jobs. They are not the kind of people who freak out on the side of the street. They are not the kind of people who frisk their vehicles for entrails.
I text my partner.
Hi hun. Can u ring me back ASAP. In car. Three people flashed me. Have pulled in. Afraid to carry on, especially as police car in lay-by ahead. Something HORRIBLY wrong, obvs. PLS ring. PLS xxx
Up ahead, the policeman gets out of his vehicle, looks in my direction. I absolutely shit myself. I start to cry a bit, because of all the stress. My partner phones back.
“That text was hilarious!” he says. “They’re trying to warn you about the speed trap!” he adds. “It’s fucking obvious.”
As soon as he says it, I know it's true. The policeman returns to his vehicle.
“It’s not obvious to me”, I say, angry now.
“That’s because you’ve got no common sense!” he says, laughing heartily.
I don't wish to rant, or digress, but the worst part of not having any so-called Common Sense is that most folk think it’s a fucking hoot. Totally OMG, ROFL and LMAO. Whether they’d be rolling in the aisles quite so much if you didn’t have any, say, working elbows, is doubtful. The second worst part is feeling like you’re not really a grown-up: that somewhere along the line, you missed the class where the teacher gave out secret little notes about Life, including answers to questions like a) What the actual fuck is going on in Eraserhead? b) What is a goddamn annuity? and c) WHERE EXACTLY IS THE BASTARD iCLOUD? As well as information about when and where to flash your headlamps at people.
“There’s definitely nothing in the Highway Code about flashing people to warn them about police cars parked in lay-bys”, I say. “I got full marks in my theory.”
I didn’t get full marks in my theory. I got 49 in the multiple-choice part. Which is still awesome.
“It’s a common sense thing”, he says. Again.
I drive home without incident, albeit filled with the sudden, thrilling realisation that I was tipped off. I shoot the police officer a smug smile as I pass. "D'you think I was born yesterday?" I want to shout. "I know the score mate!" I walk with renewed confidence towards my front door. I find my keys easily. I am part of a clandestine network of experienced motorists who use coded light systems forbidden by the authorities to communicate! I am a grown-up!
But then, as I’m making myself a nice cup of tea in the kitchen, I remember something else. The school of thought that says that if you’re speeding through a residential village, where there are children, well, maybe you deserve to get caught. I remember all those not yet baptised in the gritty jizz of Common Sense, and all my fellow scaredy-cats, for whom flashing is ALWAYS alarming. And I decide that I hate fucking flashers.