Archie’s Middle Finger Salute
Yesterday Archie had a job interview. I felt it necessary for me to clear my entire schedule because he is going through a feral stage. He went to one of those schools that requires a neat and tidy appearance so as soon as the boys leave school they’re on a mission to shake their constrained image. It starts with sprouting hair – everywhere. Ned Kelly sideburns, Billy Connolly goatees and ponytails like the one David Beckham used to sport are what all the mothers are complaining about.
I talked to him about taking a shower and using soap, shampoo, even conditioner. ‘How about cleaning your teeth, using a mouthwash, spraying deodorant and using a foot powder?’ Then it was a battle over what to wear. I told him a something with a collar was more appropriate than a crumpled T-shirt. He reluctantly put on a shirt but didn’t iron the sleeves because he said he’d have a jacket on so ‘no one will see the sleeves anyway, mum’. He’s always looking for a shortcut.
I let the crumpled sleeve issue slide because I needed some energy for the hair sprouts. I didn’t go in hard; I merely suggested the sideburns be trimmed from their Ned Kelly size to something more like Elvis used to wear. I urged the goatee be done away with because ‘it’ll grow back in a couple of days’. I begged that the hair that was matted and looking like hedge trimmers had chewed it be flattened, ‘just slightly’.
By the time he was ready I had a headache and I still had to talk to him about how to conduct himself during an interview. I saved that for the car trip. ‘Don’t shake hands like Mark Latham. Annunciate your words properly. Don’t sniff, snort or scratch your crotch. Don’t pick your nose, ears, teeth or nails. Stand up straight, shoulders back. Say ‘yes’ not ‘yeah’.’ I thought I had a good audience but then noticed he had his headphones in his ears. I despair.
Off he went to his interview and I stayed in the car. When he came back he said it went well. ‘They love me. They’ll call me before the end of the week to let me know’. That’s the good thing about Archie. He’s full of confidence. I was relieved and we headed for home.
We came off the Harbour Bridge and turned into a six-lane mess of dense traffic. Without warning, a silver sedan put on its indicator and just swung into my lane, almost colliding with the front end of my car.
‘Rude driver’, I said to Archie, ‘he should have waited until there was at least a gap’. And the driver in the silver car just carried on and didn’t even give me the ‘thank you wave’. I told Archie I hoped when he was driving he always remembered to give the ‘thank you wave’.
But Archie thought the driver of the other car needed to know we weren’t happy. He reached over, honked the horn and when the driver looked in the rear vision mirror, gave him the middle-finger salute.
I was horrified. I grabbed Archie’s hand and pulled it down and told him it doesn’t matter what another driver does to you, you can’t get involved in road rage etc. We noticed the silver sedan move into the lane beside us. Next thing we were alongside and Archie felt the need to give the driver a death stare as we passed by. We carried on driving with me berating Archie about how not to let things bother him, not to have such a short fuse and not to escalate situations by becoming more aggressive.
But then the driver changed lanes again and was now behind us and appeared to be following me. I mentioned this to Archie and said, ‘see what you’ve done, he’s now following us.’ Archie turned around to see that we were indeed being followed and just then the driver wound down his window, put a blue light on the roof of his car and turned on the siren.
Yes, Archie had given a middle-finger salute to a plain clothed policeman in an unmarked car.
I was ordered to pull over. I found my licence and wound down the window and managed a few fitting words to Archie who mumbled, ‘sorry mum’. The policeman stuck his stern and furious looking face inside the window, stared at Archie then turned to me and said, ‘Is this your partner or your son’. How flattering to be thought of as a cougar! ‘Oh, that’s my son, officer.’ And he leaned his head in even further and said to Archie, ‘mate, it’s not really appropriate to be sticking your finger up at other drivers, is it?’
‘Oh, you’re right officer, and I’m very sorry’, apologised Archie.
‘Can I see your licence, ma’am?’ And I handed it to him. ‘Are you aware you’re driving with ‘P’ plates mam?’ Oh dear. I had no idea. Archie must have left them on my car. ‘Oh no, officer, they’re Archie’s.’
‘Is this your current address?’ he continued. Oh no. I moved a few months ago and had somehow forgotten to notify the RTA.
‘Was that you on the horn, ma’am?’ he asked. Recently I heard a story of a driver who stopped at a pedestrian crossing. He recognised a friend of his crossing the road so he tooted the horn to grab her attention and wave. A policeman then pulled him over for ‘unnecessary use of the horn’ and fined him $350.00.
‘Oh no, Officer, that wasn’t me. I didn’t touch the horn’. Because it was Archie.
‘I definitely heard a horn’, continued the policeman, glaring at me like I’d committed a triple homicide.
‘It certainly wasn’t me, officer. I didn’t touch the horn’. I was tallying up the offences; middle finger salute to a police officer, driving with P plates, failure to notify change of address, unnecessary use of the horn. Was I also speeding? I have just two points left on my licence and I don’t get any points back for another 12 months. Have I just lost my licence?
The officer removed his head from the interior of my car and went back to his silver sedan. I just let fly at Archie. Honestly, with him it’s just one thing after another. Why can’t we just have a normal day? Can’t even go for a drive without an incident. Shouldn’t have told him to get a job. Should have just let him stay at home with his mates and music.
After what seemed like an hour the officer returned with my licence and again, stuck his head through the window. He said to me, ‘you’re free to go’, then turned to Archie and stressed, ‘now mate, just relax when you’re on the road okay, you don’t need to be offending other drivers’.
‘You’re absolutely right officer, and I’m very sorry’, replied a very humbled Archie.
I was ecstatic. Let off without a fine. I took my licence, beamed at him and said, ‘thank you so much. It’s just I’ve always told Archie that if someone lets you in in the traffic, you should give them the wave and you didn’t do the wave’. He looked a little stunned then said, ‘yeah, well I’ve got more important things on my mind’.
But having important things on your mind shouldn’t be an excuse for removing your manners. Perhaps they both learnt something.
I’m making Hot Cross Buns. Once you make them, you’ll never buy store-bought buns ever again. Have a go at it. They’re not that difficult. And all that kneading is good for letting out your aggression, anger and aggravation at the day’s events.
Hot Cross Buns – makes 15
Degree of Difficulty: I’m giving this a 4/5 not because they’re tricky but because there’s a few hours in the process.
Cost: Cheap. You can make 15 buns for just a few dollars.
This recipe has been adapted from a recipe I found in the Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.
30g (1oz) compressed yeast
1 tsp sugar + 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tblspn sugar
1 tsp plain flour + 4 cups plain flour + 1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 tsp salt
60g (2oz) butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 lightly beaten egg
1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup currants
1 tsp gelatine
Cream yeast with 1tsp each of sugar and flour. Add milk, mix well. Cover, stand in warm place 15 minutes or until mixture is frothy. Sift 4 cups flour, salt, 1/4 cup sugar and spices into a bowl. Rub in butter. Add yeast mixture, egg and dried fruit then mix in well. Cover bowl with a clean cloth, stand in warm place for 40 mins or until dough has doubled in size.
Punch dough down, turn out on to floured surface, knead well until dough is smooth and elastic. Cut dough into 3 equal pieces then cut each piece into 5. Knead each into round shape. Put buns in lightly greased 18cm x 30cm lamington tin, stand in warm place 10 to 15 mins or until buns reach top edge of tin.
Sift 1/2 cup plain flour, mix to paste with 1/3 cup water. Fill into small plastic bag with small hole cut across corner. Pipe crosses on each bun. Bake at 250°C (475-500F) for 15-20 mins. Remove from oven. Immediately brush with glaze made by dissolving 1 tblspn sugar and gelatine in 1 tblspn boiling water. Cool buns on a wire rack.