Monday, February 1, 2010

I am not a bad driver. I am disabled.

My first car was a red 1980 Chevette. My parents got it for me - notice I said got, not bought - when I was 17. They did not get me the Barbie pink VW bug I wanted. Or the nice sorta new Toyota I had my eye on. No. They showed their love to me in the form of a 1980 red Chevette.

One evening they took me outside to the driveway and presented it to me as though it were a Porsche wrapped with a big red bow. I said, "Oh...is this for...me?"

"Yes!" They beamed.

I nodded slowly. "You bought this for me?"

My mom smiled hugely. "Someone owed your dad some money don't you like it say thank you!!"

I slid my behind onto the red vinyl seats and my feet onto the red carpet and checked out my red AM radio. Which was glaringly lacking a red cassette deck. I sighed. And grimaced. My automotive dreams shattered on the concrete of our freshly repoured circular driveway. "Thanks."

Now, before you start saying what an ungrateful brat I was at the age of 17, I need to make one thing abundantly clear: I was an ungrateful brat at the age of 17.

My parents later said that they believed that that car would build character. And it did. My whiny, self-conscious, covetous character grew by leaps and bounds.

Soon, however, I began to appreciate the fact that my car was what it was - and wasn't what it wasn't. Not only because it could get me and my friend Marcella to Galveston and back on only $4 of gas as we competed in the Great Summer of '87 Tan-O-Thon Slash Cancer Quest, as the jambox in the front seat busted out Cure and Erasure songs on our mixed tapes.



But more so because my driving skills were frequently called into serious question. Even by, well, especially by my friends. All of our teenage cars were lovingly and thoughtfully christened: Tony's was the Gumbymobile, Rosann's was the Bootymobile. Missy's?

They called it the Deathmobile.

There was a hint of this before I even got my drivers license, on the day that I backed my mom's prized 1985 Champagne Oldsmobile Delta 88 right into the side of her friend and coworker's car.

It became more apparent as my Little Red Chevette drove off to Austin for college and soon became covered with dings and dents and scratches from backing into poles and trees and people etc.

Yes, yes, whatever, I backed into a people once on the UT campus, trying to parallel park in an alleyway by Dobie. He was uninjured. All of him. Especially his middle finger part.

I also backed into my ex-boyfriend only a couple of weeks after he had broken my heart into 48,672 pieces. It was truly an accident - I honestly did not see the boy. I was so, so glad he was okay! Not because I wouldn't have taken delight in his being just slightly injured, say, a broken femur, perhaps an ulna. No, I was relieved he survived only because I felt quite certain that not a jury in Texas would believe that his vehicular homicide was completely unintentional. He did deserve it, after all.

After the Chevette finally fell apart, I received a much nicer car just in time for graduation - a 1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse. It had a tape deck and my word, that car was fast! I mean, supposedly it was fast, I wouldn't know myself, being a Law Abiding Citizen. And it was beautiful. And I really wanted to keep it that way.

Problem was, mailboxes and poles and yes, other cars still had this nasty habit of jumping out behind me when I was trying to back up. The poor Eclipse was soon Missified.

After one particularly bad week when I backed straight into the tree in the middle of my Aunt Martha Ann's driveway (why would you have a tree in the middle of your driveway?!? Especially when I was coming to visit?!?) and into a parking lot pole the very next day, my good friend Stephen decided that it was time for a heart to heart.

He sat me down. He held my hands in his. He looked into my eyes. "Missy," he began. "I have been thinking about your driving and I have come to a conclusion."

I sighed and pouted a little bit. He continued.

"You are not a bad driver. No." My face lit up slightly. "You, Missy, have a disability. Therefore, whenever you are about to back up, you must stop, and say to yourself, 'I have a disability. I must be very. careful.' Then you may proceed."

It was genius, y'all. Absolute genius. I would repeat my mantra every single time I slid into reverse and and I think I only backed into like, three things over the next six years. Which was a beautiful record.

Having kids, of course, instilled an intense paranoia in me, so not only did I become much more careful but when we bought the momivan I had the backup sensor installed. Now if any object real or imaginary comes within a couple of feet of my back fender my van freaks out and beeps herself apoplectic. She is very neurotic, and Mommy like it like that.

Considering my disability, I positively loathe driveways. Ours is rather long and not straight. There was a tree along one side of it and yes I hit it and chopped that sucker down. But since we have lived here seven years, I have mastered the fine art of backing out of my own driveway, never with full confidence, but without incident.

Until about six months ago.

When for WHATEVER REASON, I suddenly and inexplicably began to veer slightly off to the right, into the grass, which caused me to bottom out on the curb, and severely trench my own yard!!


Now that the trench is there, it is retrenched and my already neurotic momivan is bottomed out on about a weekly basis. Walker even does it now!

It is the most frustrating thing in the world, and I admit when I do it words expel from my mouth that refute any character building that may have been achieved since I was 17.

I need very desperately to revive the mantra.

My name is Missy.
I have a disability.
I must be very. careful.

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