The folks at VVV (OK, Cassie) recently put up a post about checking people out while driving. While that post is an invaluable guide for the lecherous- or romantic-minded driver, I feel that an important dimension of automotive people-watching was left out. To me, successful people-watching involves some people-resenting, even outright people-hating. That's where "That's What You Say" comes in.
That's What You Say is a fun game to play while you're driving with passengers, or just by yourself. Here's how it works: When you're driving, preferably while stuck in traffic, pinpoint another car that annoys you. Anything about that car could annoy you - it has a stupid bumper sticker, it's too big, it's too small, the driver tried to merge in an annoying way, you hate the driver's hat, whatever. Look at that car, work up some resentment, and then try to imagine what kind of things a jerk driver in a jerk car like that might talk about. Now you're ready.
In a mocking voice, improvise a short monologue for the jerk driver. "Oh, I drive an SUV! Look at my seventeen cup holders! Look at my bumper sticker! I'm gonna pray for the troops when I get across this bridge!" Then - and this is the crucial point - switch out of the mocking voice and say, very quickly, "That's what you say." That last part is key, because otherwise your passengers might think you are confused, and also religious.
Your improvised monologue need not rely on your snap judgments of someone's appearance, or your guess as to their ethnicity. I'm not gonna lie, though - accents and stereotypes make That's What You Say much, much easier. Paul Haggis was inspired to write Crash after a highly-charged game of That's What You Say outside of Culver City.
Q: Can I play That's What You Say outside the car?
A: Yes, but then someone might hear/punch you.
Q: How about pointing at the person for whom you are improvising your devastatingly accurate monologue?
A: That is not advised.
Q: Did Paul Haggis ever talk about what Crash and That's What You Say meant to him?
A: From an interview with Chinese Boat magazine:
"The message is that there are barriers between us in America. Sure, we say a lot of things while driving, but I wonder if we spend too much time saying, "That's what you say!" and not enough time listening to what you actually say. Yes, my locksmith is Mexican."
Q: Hey Sean, I don't have a car. Can I still play That's What You Say on public transportation?
A: Ooh, I have a Fast Pass! I don't have to worry about parking! I request stops by ringing a bell! That's what you (and I) say!"