“To make a long story short,” Al said, but it was much too late for that.  He’d been rattling on for a half hour about whatever trivial subject came into his mind, taking only short breaks to inhale and then get back to his long-winded dissertation about the deleterious effect of global warming on long underwear and snow shovel sales.

I was trapped. We were carpoolers back then and he had me cornered behind the wheel of my old Chevy while he pontificated ad nauseam.  I tried desperately to escape mentally at least, reading  every road sign  and singing under my breath – “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer…”

You might find it interesting to know that between Route 287 in Parsippany and Willowbrook Mall in Wayne there are 506 telephone poles on the eastbound side of Route 46.  I might have missed a few in Pine Brook when I had to give way to an ambulance.

The ambulance reminded Al of his gall bladder operation six years previously and I was given yet another graphic account of the episode beginning with his initial abdominal pains and vomiting.  By the time he got to his rehab experiences and his  extensive critique of the hospital staff I was having my own abdominal pains. (I’m very impressionable.)

I had to exceed the speed limit to shorten his soliloquy and to keep from moaning.  I always blamed the moaning on a fictitious war wound to keep from hurting  Al’s feelings,  but that would set him off on a recitation of the rigors of his two-year Air Force hitch.  It was quite a dramatic account and I had to keep reminding myself that Al was a clerk typist stationed on an island called Staten.

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