My Sicilianesque brother-in-law drives with two feet–left on the brake, right on the gas. He blames this on his Sicilianisness, and although I’ve never been to Sicily to watch any fancy footwork, I reserve reasonable doubt that a Sicilian Driving Gene would survive generations of stewing in the American soup pot.
This is the man who took me out for my first driving lesson in the middle of a regular Saturday afternoon with no preemptive notice but for the hard swing into an empty Research Park lot. Up until this time, the only driving I’d ever done was at the age of nine along a quiet freeway sitting atop a massive structure otherwise known as LeRoy, Ma’s boyfriend. I was to keep the RV moving in the most forward direction while he held the gas and chuckled. Being the scardy-pants I’ve always been, it didn’t do much to ease my tension and I took leave of my navigational duties at first call–about 30 seconds in.
By the time Sicily Guy got it in his head I needed to learn to drive right now, I’d no more than noticed the signs along the road meant anything other than “stop” let alone gotten my temps. He was messing with my groove, man. But I played it up. Sure, I wanted to drive.
I was horrified.
I mean, I was the only kid in first grade who didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. I had a bike, oh yes, I did. I had two! But I couldn’t ride them.
I was terrified.
And I’ve never been especially well balanced.
So sticking me behind the wheel of a big, old car with buttons and lights and gadgets and peddles–not great. Bravado always serves well in times like these. Instead, my face goes all ruddy and slack-jawed and my knuckles cinch up like a 98 year old lady with a severe case of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
And did I mention yet that my sister was also in the car as well as my baby nephew tucked up all nice and cozy in his car seat? They were, and the sun was shining summer all over us. So I put that car in Drive, and eased my foot slowly… oh, ever so slowly… off the break.
Then back on.
The car lurched. My shoulder blades had to have been making out I was so tense. Give it some gas, Sicily Guy said. Lurch. Take your foot off the break, Sister said. Lurch. Turn the wheel, Sicily Guy said. Lurch. Just relax! Sister snapped. Lurch.
When I was planning my wedding, I was insane. Not bad insane, just prepared insane. I never know when a good idea is going to pop out and scare the bejeebus out of me, so I carried a tiny little notebook with me in my bag for notes and clippings. If the topic of my wedding ever came up, which it did all the time because nobody ever knew what to talk to me about before I had kids, I could whip out the book exploding with pictures and fabric samples.
This was the year I went to Sister’s 4th of July party. I gacked wedding all over the place: Yes, I’m making my dress. Yes, it’s this pretty red. Oh, we’re going to the Redwood Forest to get married. No, we’re not inviting the family to come along. Yes, we’ll have a big party after we come back. La la la…
I don’t know why, how, or what, but Past Me was brought out to show Current Me how lame she was. “That hair was definitely 80’s,” Sister’s Friend said. “You should have seen her when we taught her how to drive,” Sister said. “She was the worst driver I’ve ever seen.”
Left foot on the brake. Right foot on the gas.
I had way too much fun writing this blog post. It feels as if I’ve been swirling in a vat of nonwriting Jell-o for so long my brain turned to orange goo, but oh no! Throw me Thursday is back. Today’s suggestion via Raymond Gibson aka rgibson103: “Learning to ride a bike vs. learning to drive a car?” Well, now you see how that went.