It snowed the other day. We all crept around on the roads, driving as if trying to avoid baby snails on the pavement and making maneuvers in slow motion, like instant replays of maneuvers: "Let's see that right turn again! A minimal turn of the wheel, an unavoidable touch on the brake, and a sl-o-o-o-o-o-ow pivot around the corner. Beautiful! Now back to you, Ben."

It snowed the other day. We all crept around on the roads, driving as if trying to avoid baby snails on the pavement and making maneuvers in slow motion, like instant replays of maneuvers: "Let's see that right turn again! A minimal turn of the wheel, an unavoidable touch on the brake, and a sl-o-o-o-o-o-ow pivot around the corner. Beautiful! Now back to you, Ben."

All in all, not bad, considering it was the first real snow since last year. You'd think I'd have been driving along, beaming happily and singing inappropriate songs with the radio.

By inappropriate songs, I don't mean songs whose lyrics can't be printed in a family newspaper; I mean songs that even I'm aware sound ridiculous emerging from my middle-aged, middle-class mouth: "My hand's wet on the wheel, There's a voice in my head that drives my heel " or "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control "

Of course I did do some of that, it goes without saying. Singing Pink Floyd while sitting up very straight, the better to look out both the windshield and the rearview mirror, clutching the steering wheel with my mittened hands and keeping an eye on the traffic light half a mile ahead has a calming effect similar to the calming effect of Lamaze breathing during childbirth.

And, in fact, driving in snow is not all that impossible. As I like to say, it's doable. Driving on slick pavement, on the other hand, is plain impossible. I was caught one night on the interstate in a freezing rain that was sending cars off the road right and left, as if they were playing cards being dealt by an unseen hand. One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me ... I drove through the middle of the wreckage at about two miles an hour, having been saved by a stalled truck that forced me to stop, literally, at the edge of the ice. When I drove around the truck I discovered the ice and commenced to move in a homeward direction with all the speed of an Alaskan glacier.

I was so terrified, in fact -- speaking of hands wet on the wheel -- that I continued to crawl along the highway long after the ice had given way to wet pavement again. Only when I noticed that all around me cars were zipping by at their usual breakneck speed did I realize it was safe to rejoin the world, already in progress.

But my point is, a person can drive in snow, if a person drives slowly and doesn't allow herself to be distracted by nitwits.

By nitwits I mean the people who enter the roadway inside cars still virtually buried in snow. Snow is piled on the roof and the hood; snow covers the license plates front and rear; it covers the headlights, which in any case aren't on ("Why should I have my headlights on? It's nine o'clock in the morning!") and it covers, or practically covers, the windshield.

Granted, there's a swath of clear glass across the driver's side of the windshield. But snow is piled six inches down from the roof; more snow is heaped to a point on the windshield six inches north of the windshield wipers. The passenger's side of the windshield is still entirely snow-covered, obviously because passengers don't drive, silly. That's why they're called passengers.

It makes me crazy to see this. It makes me want to stop my car, jump out and run slipping and sliding over to the other car to shout something rude at the driver. Maybe "What are you thinking?" or perhaps "Are you nuts, or what?"

Of course, I would never do this. For one thing, if I tried to run across the snow in these shoes I'd certainly fall down, and for another thing I'm way too shy. But what are they thinking? That's what I'd like to know.

Also, what comes after "We don't need no thought control"?

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer. E-mail mbartlett@thisweeknews.com.

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