Below, you will find a dialogue between Justin and Justina, two unusual-yet-similarly-named friends who should be familiar to New Leaf Journal readers. For the second consecutive Justin and Justina snapshot, Justin and Justina are taking a walk in the evening. In their previous dialogue, they were blinded by the siren lights of a parked ambulance. In this dialogue, they face a harder-to-escape problem – blinding car headlights. I discussed this issue in a regular post. It seems that fictional people struggle with the same issues that I struggle with.

Part I: When Did Headlights Become So Bright?

A photo of a street crossing on West 9th Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with a car with bright headlights on the right side of the photo.
I took this photo in Gowanus, Brooklyn in the spring. This was before I started noticing the brighter headlights. However, the days were longer in the spring. As you will notice, the sky was still blue despite my having taken this photo after 8:00 PM. Unlike most of our photos – this photo was not retouched.

Justina: What is with these car headlights? I’m being blinded. Were they always this bright?
Justin: They have become brighter. Terrible stuff really.
Justina: When did this happen?
Justin: Started in the summer. You’d have noticed before if you went out more.
Justina: I could have lived in ignorant bliss if not for you.
Justin: You’re welcome.
Justina: Did they all buy new lights?
Justin: Perhaps. They also don’t dim their lights anymore.
Justina: Why not?
Justin: Well…
Justina: I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?
Justin: Don’t phrase questions like that! It’s not nice!
Justina: Not this again…

Part II: Illustrating By Example

Justin: So imagine you’re Bill.
Justina: OK.
Justin: You’re driving along with your big fancy new headlights in the evening.
Justina: Right.
Justin: You don’t have them on max. Maybe six out of ten.
Justina: Eight.
Justin: Six-and-three-quarters.
Justina: Seven-and-three-fifths.
Justin: Six-and-a-half.
Justina: Sure.
Justin: Then you pull up behind Von.
Justina: Proton Von!?
Justin: Von has his lights on max.
Justina: Why?
Justin: Are you ready for this?
Justina: Just tell me.
Justin: Because he can. Isn’t that something?
Justina: …
Justin: Anyway. How does Bill respond?
Justina: Huh? Why does he need to respond.
Justin: Bill has a wife, Justina!
Justina: So?
Justin: And three kids!
Justina: Are you going to name them?
Justin: Bill already did. Pum, Take, and Pumtake.
Justina: Pumtake!

Part III: Why Bill Cannot Dim His Headlights

Justin: How could Bill go home to his wife and kids if there is even the slightest chance that Von may go home thinking that he had “Bigger Lights” than Bill?
Justina: Through the door?
Justin: This man has pride, Justina. This man has dignity. Bill provides for his family by working on the docks. Good union man. Honorable man.
Justina: Why can’t he just go home then?
Justin: Von could think he has “Bigger Lights”! What would he think of Bill!?
Justina: Who cares? Von probably doesn’t even know that Bill exists. Even if he did, why would he care? Even if he cared, why would Bill care? This makes no sense.
Justin: Bill has a conscience. After the kids go to bed. He has to confess something to Lidya.
Justina: His wife?
Justin: I hope so. If Lidya is not his wife, he’s in big trouble.
Justina: …
Justin: Anyway. He has to tell her because he’s so honorable – “Honey, I may have left some guy on the road with the impression that he has ‘Bigger Lights’ than us.”
Justina: …
Justin: She replies: “How can you provide for this family if you’re not willing to disabuse strangers on the road of their unfounded notions of headlight superiority over our family. You are an embarrassment. I’m taking the kids and moving in with parents.”
Justina: There is no way that she would say that.
Justin: Really?
Justina: No. This is insane. Do men really think like this? Who cares about your headlights. If anything she’d be annoyed if her husband blinded her with his headlights when she went out to meet him in the driveway.

Part IV: Justin Turns the Tables

Justin: So you’re telling me that women don’t care about what total rando strangers think about their lives and “Big Lights”?
Justina: Exactly. You men are weird.
Justin: So you’re telling me that you do not spend hours scouring Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit looking for pictures and stories about people posting their “best lives” online so you can feel miserable and inferior?
Justina: …
Justin: I don’t know. I distinctly remembr having this conversation with you a few months ago. Am I mistaken?
Justina: Look. The bottom line is that women do not care about how bright a guy’s headlights are. I’d dump a guy in a second if he tried to have that “coversation” with me.
Justin: I bet you think none of the guys in those Instagram couples are maxing out their headlights to keep up with other guys on the road.
Justina: …I hate you but they’re totally not.
Justin: …
Justina: How long we’re you setting this up?
Justin: Since I named the protagonist.
Justina: Duly noted.