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I used to enjoy getting in my car and driving around Miami. But those were the days when "living on the edge" still amused me. Now, I find myself facing the greatest fear of all--fear of myself and my capabilities behind the wheel. I am, gulp, a crazy Miami driver.

You have to remember that in Miami, the rules are different here. It's HOT here, and that does something to our brains. Also, many of us are not from Miami, and as little babies we were dropped on our heads when we were delivered. If you find yourself having to drive in Miami, here's a few suggestions for doing so, and for staying alive at the same time. Take it from a pro--me: A Typical Miami Driver ("TMD").

MUSIC: One of the most important things that people need while driving in Miami is distraction. Because if you think about how you're driving, and the traffic, and the hassle of it all, and your sorry life, and how you don't have one, well, you, too, might not want to go out the door. So before you do go out that door, make sure that you bring along your favorite cassettes and CD's, and turn 'em on! What a relief to hear "C'mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now" as you're getting honked at. It's always heartwarming to have someone flip you the bird as you're listening to Barbra crooning, "People, people who need people . . ."

GET A HOBBY: Always be sure to bring along a good book, a deck of cards, knitting, or some porno to look at, because you never know when it'll turn up handy. In Miami, it's unbelievable how, in very heavy traffic (and there really is no other kind here), when you're hanging in the left lane, trying to turn left, there's rarely a left turn arrow to be seen. So, while waiting for the oncoming traffic to swoosh by for about ten to fifteen minutes, you can read. Or do like Mary Kay of Mary Kay cosmetics said, and attempt some stomach exercises. Stomach in, stomach out. In, out. Its good for the abs. Do your knitting, light up a healthy cigarette, anything. Finally, when the light turns red, you may make your left turn, but only after the two cars in front of you have also turned left on red.

It's also good to have something in the car to amuse yourself for possible (that is, really very likely) traffic jams. For some reason, huge trucks and cars seem to overturn a lot on I-95 in Dade and Broward. This can cause a big slowdown, or even a complete stop in traffic. Sometimes, however, nothing's really happening at all except someone's pulled their car off the road because it stopped running (usually a good reason to stop driving). Or maybe a guy got a flat, who knows. Whatever,

Miamians are very bloodthirsty people. The rubber-necking here is as good as it gets.The car is on the side of the road, and yet everyone's backed up for 25 miles, because of all the busy-bodies looking. While others are busy stooping so low as to rubber-neck,you can be utilizing your time more wisely by reading The National Enquirer.

BABS: The Butt and Barge technique of driving has been proven to be a very effective style of transportation. The beauty of it, as in many things, is it's pure simplicity. Just weave in and out of traffic at random, bypassing anyone in your way. Using this and one other method (that being, whoever gets in your way simply gets Steamrolled), and you're on your way. See why we call it BABS?

YOUR HORN -- USE IT! What do you think it's for? It's to wake people up, tell them that the light's not going to get any greener.! It's to help people realize that their 30 miles per hour is not your "thing"--get that stupid Escort moving! HONK! ! It's to shake up the guy in front of you; he's daydreaming again about being with Claudia Schiffer on the beach--HONK!! Ain't gonna happen, man! It's to let someone know you don't appreciate their driving like you do, cutting in front of you, weaving in and out of traffic. What kind of maniac is he? You can't believe he barged right in there like that! So let him know you're pissed! HONK! ! Mad as you are, though, see the next rule:

YOUR MIDDLE FINGER - DON'T EVER USE IT!: Even if you're packing a pistol, even if you have bullet-proof glass, I don't suggest that here in Miami, one of the highest "testosterone" cities in the world, you flip anyone the bird. If you must, do it so no one can see you. Aim your bird/finger at the accelerator or the floor mats. See? There, all better. You've gotten it out of your system.

YOUR BLINKER - WAH?: What's your blinker for? In this city? Aesthetics, that's all. If you want to pass as a TMD, don't use it. (It is, however, okay to use your windshield wipers when it rains.) Also be sure to check that your blinker is not on for several minutes to a half hour when there is nowhere to turn. That is what tourists and the TMD-challenged do.

BYOW: Very important. Bring your own Windex. That way, when you are assaulted by guys who are hopping on your car's windshield to allegedly clean it, you can pick up your bottle and say, hey guys, I do my own windows, thanks. If you're at a light and someone is hanging onto your car's windshield and the light finally turns green, go! Go really fast!