My Mother was often described as a “colorful” woman. As a child, the term was innocently interpreted as a compliment. As I reflect on these comments as an adult, I’ve come to understand that “colorful” does not necessarily equate to positive behaviors. Life with my Mother was never boring. At her core, she could best be described as a stereotypical southern lady in the body of a northern suburbanite. Couple this with a tortured soul and closeted dependency issues and you have anything but boring. While I could retell stories that would curl the hair of a bald man, I will restrain myself and provide you with a relatively tame example of a Faux Pas “don’t”. First, let me impart you with some guidance on proper etiquette should you encounter a funeral procession (cortege) while on the road.
Should you encounter a funeral procession while driving, it is customary and oh, so respectful to pull to the side of the roadway until the procession has passed. It’s easy to identify the cars included in the procession train as their car lights will be on, they will be traveling within close proximity of each other at a slower speed and there will be a placard in each window. Occasionally, you may even witness a police escort at both the front and back of the train. This makes identification easy. When in doubt, wait it out.
If at all possible, do not break into the procession line. In larger cities and on busier roadways this may not always be practical or safe. Should you have to merge into a funeral procession, please detach yourself as quickly as is prudent.
Don’t honk your horn! Funeral processions are typically allowed by law to proceed through red traffic lights and stop signs. If the car ahead of you respectfully and lawfully yields to the traffic laws and stops at the light or sign, honking your horn as a gesture of encouragement to sail through is crude. This is especially important to remember when Smokey Robinson is blaring from your car speakers.
Now for the story…
It was a glorious Saturday August afternoon in the northland; warm and sunny. I had been to the mall with my Mother on our traditional pre-school shopping excursion. I was to begin my third grade scholastic year in high style. As was customary, our shopping spree ended with lunch at a five-star, “grown-up” eatery. I was elated and apparently, so was my Mother. Our ride home was joyful. The windows were rolled down, the music of Smokey Robinson was blaring from the radio and bags of new duds were flapping in the backseat of our car. As I remember it, my Mother enthusiastically began to tap the car horn in rhythm to “Tears of a Clown”, smile at the passerby’s and wave her hand in the manner of Miss America (elbow wrist, elbow wrist-wrist). When I asked her if we were in a parade she declared that “Yes! We are in the middle of a cortege, darling!”. Naturally, my eight year old self participated with grand and innocent panache.
So…in addition to the three good form rules outlined above, I believe we can take away a fourth lesson: If your Mother asks if you would like to be part of a cortege, smile and graciously decline the generous invitation. You understand the meaning of the word “cortege“, it’s good form rules and would prefer attending The Rose Parade.