Jewish World Review March 15, 2002 / 2 Nisan, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Birth of a Pothole | It is that time of year when our teen-age daughters begin complaining about potholes. Not that potholes, or chuckholes as they call them, dotting the city streets are a problem, mind you. No, they have no problem with chuckholes whatsoever. As a matter of fact, if either one of them is behind the wheel of the car and there is a chuckhole in their line of vision, it has been my experience that they are able to hit it dead center eight times out of ten.

They are drawn to chuckholes like heat-seeking missiles. They will be cruising along a thoroughfare when an enormous chuckhole appears ahead in the road. There will be another lane parallel to the one in which they are driving, a lane completely uninhabited by motorists, pedestrians or road kill, a lane begging to feel the warmth of tires, a lane they could easily drive in. Instead, they size up the hole, calibrate angle, speed, and approach, and BAM! Down we go! BAM! Out we come as the car bounces off the bottom of the crater and the horizon is once again in sight.

After several excursions punctuated with potholes, the girls have been known to return home and say, "Dad, something is wrong with the car. It seems to pull to the right." You don't say.

The problem the girls have with chuckholes is that their father insists on explaining where chuckholes come from. Ordinarily, he does this on the days he drives them to school (because the car they drive is in the shop, a small matter of having the alignment adjusted and shocks replaced).

"Girls, potholes are nothing more than the process of freezing and thawing. The road freezes and contracts. Then, the sun heats up the road, causing the road to expand and the pavement to crack. Water seeps down through the cracks. The water is soaked up by the mixture of rock, gravel and sand that supports the road. The weakened asphalt eventually cracks under the continued impact of tires and a pothole is born."

The girls like Birth of a Pothole even less than Birth of a Dandelion. When they were younger, the talk served a purpose in the same way Grandma and Grandpa's cassette tape of luau music from their cruise to Hawaii served a purpose. It would put them to sleep. Now that they are older, they have been known to politely protest the pothole discourse.

"Mom, he did it again. The whole chuckhole routine all the way to school."

"And what did you learn, girls?"

"That there is no limit to the number of times Dad will repeat himself."

His educational approach may not be culminating in the intended outcome, but the pothole lecture is not without benefit. When I hear the girls engaged in some argument over the blow dryer, or an article of clothing, I simply say, "Just wait 'til your father gets home. I'm going to have him sit you both down and explain chuckholes!" They moan and groan and immediately comply with my every whim.

Or if there is some reluctance to cheerfully perform a household chore, I just say, "The choice is yours. Load the dishwasher or listen to the chuckhole lecture." Some times they even wash the glassware by hand. And sing.

The girls announced yesterday that they heard city crews will be out in a few weeks filling potholes. "Now what will Dad talk about?" one said with a grin.

"You girls are slipping if you can't remember what comes in the rotation after potholes," I said. "The price of gasoline."

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman