I am chaaaanging . . . I'll be better than I am . . .

Remember my friend flower-pot-head lady?

Well, she was at it again this weekend, yelling at me like a drill sergeant:

(Grow, you stupid #@*&$!! Her swearing is implied, but implied very loudly.)

In the interest of disclosure, I'll begin by admitting that the two phrases heard most often during my childhood were "scaredy-cat" and "marshmallow-muscles." Still valid criticisms.

This story begins where our minivan ends, in the Chili's parking lot. We came out to drive home and there it was, deader than dead dead dead. Except that, even when the key wasn't in, the needles on the dashboard (and some lights) were still quite animated, swinging and blinking eerily.
Perhaps our van was celebrating Halloween early.

I know we have been.

At any rate, AAA was summoned. While it may have been just the battery, we suspect additional foul play. It spent the weekend in our mechanic's parking lot, waiting for someone to notice it and do something.

Meanwhile, back in the driveway:

Thank goodness we have the new pickup! Except, wait a minute -- when Russ chose the manual transmission I said something along the lines of "NOW I'M NEVER DRIVING IT, EVER!! NOT THAT I WAS EVER GOING TO DRIVE IT ANYWAY, BECAUSE I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE EVEN BUYING SUCH A STUPID THING, BUT NOW YOU CAN JUST FORGET IT!"

It dawned on me (in the Chili's parking lot,) that if Russ was going to be in Seattle all week, and if my van was going to live at Dick's Valley Service for an undetermined amount of time, I would be stranded here on a suburban island with Cooper, wishing I could at least drive somewhere to pick up a large diet Coke. And what about an emergency, I mean one that involved something more serious than diet Coke? Here comes lesson #1:

1) Never say you'll never do something. It will only embarrass you later when you do it.

Russ gently reminded me that I always tried to teach our girls that driving a clutch was a life skill that everyone should have (including you, Chelsea -- please report your progress on this goal) and that I happen to possess that skill, so no problem . . . I could just hop in the pickup and take him to the airport. EEEKKK!! Here I have to confess (again) that I'm a terrible chicken and much too -- something -- to drive an enormous pickup truck while simultaneously trying to figure out how to work the clutch and the 3-foot-long gear shift. If you know me, none of this will surprise you. I hate driving. And I have my pride to consider. Therefore, in the Chili's parking lot I just stuck out my lower lip in my best-two-year-old manner and said, "I guess I'm just stuck with no car this week!" Here comes lesson #2:

2) Don't make yourself miserable just to preserve your pride. That's dumb.

And lesson #3:

3) Life is much too short to be afraid of driving pickup trucks. That's even dumber.

Remember this photo? (last post)

Because standing next to my politician-bashing cowboy/farmer grandpa (and my young father), is my farmer/grandma. She was terribly short and didn't say much, but there was a lot packed into that tiny body --
she feared neither man nor beast.

Have you heard the story about the little lady that climbed up on a chair, pulled down the hive of yellowjackets by the back door, and then took it over and dumped it in the river? That was her. (yes, I know -- difficult to believe that we are related . . .)

I don't have specific memories of riding in the truck with my grandma, but because they always had a truck, I can only assume she drove it. I have many memories of riding in the truck with my grandpa -- I was always the one straddling the gearshift. The one I remember best had a shiny black head like a billiard ball, which would buzz my leg when I brushed against it. There was also a black "choke" knob, which I thought seemed rather ominous and hoped we would never have to use. They don't have those anymore, by the way.

(And you must absolutely swear not to tell Russ that by choosing the truck with the gearshift he was giving me an inner smile and that lovely stroll down memory lane!)

But anyway, if my grandma, who probably needed a ladder to climb in, never whined about driving the truck (and actually would have absolutely no patience if she knew I had to give it a moment's thought) . . . wait -- I feel lesson #4 coming on:

4) Always make your grandma proud of you.

So for you, Grandma, I pushed the truck seat as far forward as it would go (I'm taller than you were, but not by a whole lot) and drove that darned truck like nobody's business. (Haven't killed it once!) I must confess I did insist on a trial run on some out-of-the-way sidestreets before we took to the freeway. I'm also not sure I'm ready for prime-time parking, so we'll try to avoid the Target parking lot for a few days.

And I have not yet considered driving it while wearing my cowboy boots. (We can't give Russ everything at once -- it might kill him.)

Russ has predicted that eventually I will have the Marge Simpson "Canyonero" response. (If I do, I'm never admitting it. Can't I keep a little pride?)

As for now, I still look more like this Marge Simpson; I'm driving, but with a nervous laugh.

And if you see a short lady perched way up in that shiny black cab bumping and lurching down county road 42 with a big gulp in the cupholder, you may want to drive with some caution until you have safely passed.

Or at least honk and wave!

Yeehaw, indeed.


Jake and Chelsea said...

hey now, i drove the maxima back from the zoo and only killed it once at that pesky left turn! that was successful! and in my grand literary tradition, i can tell you how to drive a stick shift, i can dazzle you with my attention to detail and i'll even throw in some rhetorical alliteration(push the pedal powerfully, but beware being punchy...)...doesn't that count?

keep it coming.

Jake and Chelsea said...

and linguistically speaking, my alliteration uses only labial non-continuant plosives, p being unvoiced and b being voiced.

all that junk HAS to amount to something.

susan m hinckley said...

You're right! Wordsmithing is infinitely more important in my book than anything having to do with driving. So I will declare myself a parenting success, while simultaneously bowing to your superior knowledge of linguistics. But I think I'll make you drive the truck when you're home at Christmas.

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