Cruel cost of fuel is all-purpose excuse

RALEIGH — Gas at $4 a gallon has launched a summer of sacrifice. Canceled vacations to Disney World. Hummers permanently parked in the driveway.

But high-priced petroleum has given the Triangle a handy tool for avoiding unpleasant chores.

Tired of driving to see the in-laws? Want to skip mowing the lawn? Just use The Gas Excuse: this year's version of "The Dog Ate My Homework."

In Raleigh's Mordecai neighborhood, designer Jennie Malcolm has a friend whose husband suddenly became interested in his carbon footprint -- not something he would normally fret about -- once the annual mother-in-law trip to the mountains rolled around.

It didn't work, Malcolm said. Everyone knew carbon footprint meant gas prices, and he ended up visiting the in-laws anyhow.

Still, the ruse planted a seed.

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