So I just had what I think of as a very “Knoxville” moment. I’m coming back from the takeout pizza joint, which in another rather Knoxville moment, is called “PIZZA HOSS”, when I pull up at an intersection (on clinton highway, not far from the 50’s novelty-architecture tin biplane-shaped filling station that the preservationists are fixing up), and there’s a big dark blue diesel F350 pickup at the light, and he is, as they say, blowin’ coal. He is blowing all the coal. He is blowing all the coal in the world, an Industrial Revolution’s worth of the coal. And it’s coming out his tailpipe – he doesn’t have one of those high-rise smokestacks, so it’s making an absolutely monstrous, opaque jet-black cloud at ground level. It’s a nice day, everyone’s windows are down, and everyone’s car is just filling up with black soot. The soot is settling in around them like their cars are filling with black water. People are frantically rolling up their windows and yelling (thank god I had mine on a/c recirc) and trying to back up and get away. But the light’s red, we’re packed in, and there is nowhere to go. And it gets worse. I can see he’s been resting his foot down on the pedal, so the engine isn’t just at idle, so it will blow worse, and now he’s easing it down a little harder, a little harder, and now the tailpipe absolutely going like a rocket engine. It’s like the Saturn V test, only black, pitch black, black as – well, actually black carbon soot is about the blackest thing there is, so it’s incomparably black, and forming this huge bolus of a black cloud that’s like Atlas’s globe, hanging there, this massive orb of black poison, rolling out towards us, over us. People are yelling. The light hasn’t changed yet. And he opens the door, this ratty guy in a ratty shirt with a ratty baseball cap, and he spits this huge gross loogie on the pavement. The light changes, finally, and he, naturally, of course, of course he does, he stomps down on the pedal and he’s off, he’s gone and it’s midnight, nobody can see, it’s as if someone has poured a can of hot tar over everyone’s windshields. When we can see again, he’s way down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, leaving this incredible plume of black pollution, like an office building on fire driving down the road at about 45 miles an hour.

So that was both very horrible and very funny at the same time.