Monday, June 8, 2009

Sometimes the truth hurts

"I feel like I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe."
Author Unknown

I feel a little bit like Winnie the Pooh when he stuck his paw in the honey tree and disrupted the bees inside. Although my last post did cause my Sweetie to LOL, in spite of himself, it also pushed a few sensitive buttons. Son of Sweetie let me know that their need to pay close attention to detail is not something they do because the are "clean freaks." Instead he told me earnestly "it's that we have ticks that make us do certain things."

Ahhh, I said to myself. I know about ticks! I have a tick or two myself. Like the one that causes me to eat Kettle Cooked potato chips with wanton abandon. I guess we all have ticks. Which sounds really gross because I can't help thinking of tick as in a blood sucking insect instead of a quirk of compulsive nature. Let's face it ticks are just nasty. From here on out I'm going to refer to Sweetie's desire to have things just so as a "quirk," not a tick. And, really, the bottom line is this .... he is who he is and that's what I love about him. So if I wake up in the morning and grab a bath towel out of the linen closet and happen to notice that everything has been repositioned into straighter, neater rows, who am I to complain? It's like getting an unexpected note that says, "Sweetie was here!" It's a great way to start my day off with a smile.

Having written so much about my guy, I think it's only fair to comment on a rather distressing realization I had about myself over the weekend. In fact, if I'm going to be totally honest, writing about Sweetie's quirks helped take the focus off my own.

Last week we took one of our really old vehicles to the junk yard. I say we, but the only real reason I tagged along was to drive Sweetie home after he turned the keys over to the car smasher. He was not as emotionally attached to this van as he had been with "Nellie" but it was still a little sad to let go of what had become a family friend ... or a stripped down version of the friend. The hand-made storage cubby, the seat and steering wheel covers, the GPS, 3-in-1 clock, tools and blanket had already been assigned a place in my van per Sweetie's fastidious layout.

For the record, I have to say it was kind of a toss up as to which van should be trashed. My van is no longer a youngster. It has spent more time in the shop in the last month than it has in our driveway. Still, it is the car with the least number of miles and most potential. Potential for what, I'm not quite sure.

Once the decision was made to do the deed, Sweetie took his van for one more ride. He drove the lead car and I followed. I had no idea where we were going which made me a little nervous. Actually, a lot nervous; but it never occurred to me to test out the newly installed navigation system. It wasn't exactly rush hour but there were plenty of cars on the road. I turned the music on as I always do when I'm in the car alone. Sometimes silence is golden; sometimes the quiet is hard to take. Like Goldilocks trying to find a bed that was just right, I flipped through all the programmed stations to find some tunes that fit my mood. Apparently my mood was leaning towards Lawrence Welk.

Okay, slight exaggeration there. But every station I turned to, including my fallback favorite the one that plays Christian music, was blaring loud noise that did not fall into any music category other than noise. There was heavy base thumping in the background of every song. There were unending drum solos. What was supposed to be "yesterday's favorites" i.e. Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, John Denver, or even the BeeGees, turned out to be a cacophony of sounds that made my ears hurt. I know I date myself when I say that the country singers of today know nothing of how to sing a tearful ballad about dogs and trucks and broken hearts. All they know is how to make a guitar scream. A talent to be sure, but not really music to soothe the soul.

In disgust I turned the radio off. Blessed silence filled the van. That's when I noticed that the speedometer hadn't gone over 50MPH. My hands were clenching the steering wheel at exactly 10 and 2 o'clock with such intensity that my knuckles were white and my fingers were beginning to tingle. OH MY GOD! I said to no one in particular because I was the only one in the car. Look at me. I have crossed over an unseen line between normal driver and "old lady driver."

The scary thing is that I don't know when it happened. I've never been what one might call a speed demon, or reckless or adventuresome behind the wheel. A few years ago after a day trip to Ft. Lauderdale, one of my sisters commented that we would have gotten there a lot sooner if "Granny" hadn't been driving. But she's the sister who used to call me "Toothpick" and chased me around with long-legged spiders so I didn't pay her comment a lot of attention.

All right, I admit I have some driving "quirks" - little to no depth perception, speeding up at yellow lights instead of slowing down, yielding the right of way, and giving a friendly wave with my whole hand not just one finger when someone lets me pull in front of them - but who knew they would one day all add up to make me look like one of those little old ladies who still uses her left arm as a turn signal?

My inability to measure depth and distance sometimes makes driving Dad's Lincoln problematic. I think it's far better to blame the shape of my eyeball than my intelligence when I have trouble judging how much car is in front of me and how much is in back of me. I have suggested to my father on more than one occasion that the boxwood that falls just outside my line of vision when backing up would have a better chance of survival if it was moved a car's length away from the driveway. All he can do is growl about the status of his sprinkle heads. (Sprinkler heads? What sprinkler heads?)

To the great dismay of the men in my life, I have never learned how to use fisheye bubbles on the side mirrors. I still put my arm around across the back of the seat and turn my head to look over my shoulder when backing up, exactly the way I was taught in driver's ed 40+ years ago. I see quite well over my right shoulder - it's the cars on the left that are in jeopardy.

I'm not ashamed to say I'm a timid driver. I'm just not prepared to be an OLD driver. I realize that I am no spring chicken; that being on the far end of my fiftieth decade puts me squarely in the middle aged category. Don't you agree, however, that it is a little ironic that I can, on one hand be a doddering danger on the road, and on the other I'm still trying to tame my inner child?

Almost every day my father reminds me how hard it is to be old. To him old is painful. Old is lonely. Old is hard of hearing and having to pee too much. I guess when I look at it like that I've still got some good years ahead of me. I just wonder when I'll have to give up my car keys.

Knowing that anything I say can be used against me in a court of law, I hereby plead the 5th.
Merry ME

1 comment:

Fire Byrd said...

Well I'm half way through my fifth decade, and I'd scare the pants off you with my driving. I do an awful lot of it and think nothing of sitting at 90 on the motorway (speed limit is 70!!) I do drive correctly in towns but hey the open road, speed limit, what speed limit!!! I'm a bit like toad in Wind in the Willows, poop poop!!!!!