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The need for speed

The need for speed

Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 8:00 pm

The Messenger 02.15.12

I have a problem. Speeding on Highway 22 is my problem. No, I haven’t gotten a ticket (recently), but if I don’t change my ways the flashing blue lights are my destiny. I’m hoping that writing this column will provide closure to my foolishness.
I can’t fully explain my need for speed. I tend to be a law-abiding citizen in other areas. But there’s just something about that 45 mph zone of Highway 22 in Dresden. It taunts me. It’s like a voice says, “This big beautiful smooth four-lane highway was designed for speed, Lisa. Raw speed.” And the moment I hear that voice in my head, our 2003 Chevy Trail Blazer becomes a bright red Ferrari convertible and I can feel the wind whipping against my Hollywood head scarf.
What happens when a middle-aged woman feels like she’s wearing a Hollywood head scarf and driving a Ferrari convertible? Nothing good, people. Nothing good. I start wearing bright red lipstick and my foot gets heavy. Ironically my biggest temptation to speed comes right in front of the sheriff’s department. That big smooth hill just calls out like a long lost friend beckoning me to put the pedal to the metal. I know. I know. It’s always immoral to break the speed laws. But to speed right in front of the sheriff’s department is like throwing a brick through the window of the police department. It’s that moment when immorality meets utter stupidity.
I don’t want to get a speeding ticket. I’m sure my insurance company doesn’t want me to get a speeding ticket. I know for a fact that Judge Tommy Moore doesn’t want me to get a ticket. The last time I appeared in traffic court, he said, “Well, Mrs. Smartt, speeding wasn’t a very ‘smart’ thing to do, now was it?” No, Judge Moore. A life of traffic crime is a real kick in the pants. Every time.
Last week I determined to drive the speed limit on Highway 22. No more risk taking. And it worked. I mean, I didn’t speed. At all. I drove the speed limit and my kids were really proud of me. But I learned something about myself. I’m not quite right. I eliminated risk in one area and adopted risk in another.
Usually my husband takes the boys to school in the morning on his way to UTM. But he was out of town one day last week and that task fell to me. As we approached the Trail Blazer that beautiful morning, one of my boys said, “Mom, you’re still wearing your pajamas.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well, isn’t it kind of a bad idea to drive to Martin wearing your pajamas?”
“Uh, you’re probably right. But I figure I have a full tank of gas and I’m just dropping you off, so it will all be fine.”
But I knew the truth. It was risky. And somehow that risk made the life of a middle-aged woman less conventional. Less planned and more joyfully sporadic. I know. I could have gotten a flat tire. I could have had car trouble. Just be glad that I didn’t go into the grocery store to get a gallon of milk while wearing my pajamas. I’m positive I’d never do that. Well, almost positive.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. She can be reached by email at For more information, visit her website,

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