Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hell on a Stick

Ok, so I knew the basics and I could manage getting through neighborhoods without obliterating every mailbox and garbage can that happened within 2 yards of my driving radius.
Mark decided it was time to take me to the streets. The streets with actual painted lines on them. And more people. Lots of people.
All I remember of this one was getting out on the road, ka-klomping along and barely making it into first before we were headed down higley to heaven knows where when at a stoplight....I stalled.
In the middle of traffic.
And again, suddenly, just like the first time I forgot what part of the galaxy I was from or whether up was down and light was dark. I began shouting,
"What do I do??!"
And didn't hear a word Mark said because the panic was ringing so loudly in my ears.
I totally abandoned trying to think of how to start the car and just searched for the caution-blinkers button. People began zooming around me and the embarrassment settled in and guess what!
I cried again.
My brain finally began clicking again and I tried to get the car going but failed once, twice then finally rolled in 1st gear up the last 3 yards to get to the now red light.
I don't remember if we switched spots then or later but I do know I was completely and totally against EVER manning a manual car. EVER.

And then I married him.

And gosh darn it that guy makes me pretty happy so I'll do much of anything he says. Which, if you're thinking sounds like a bad thing, quit it. Cuz he's the more sensible of the two of us and pretty much a genius who can really actually think about things whereas I'm like,
"Oh my gosh! A rock! Let's set it on fire, k?"
But he thinks I'm cute so it's whatever.
Thus, when he said,
"If you're gonna be my wife, you've gotta drive stick..."
It was like,

"You have betrayed me. But I love you. So ok."

So we recently found a ska-reaming deal on craigslist for a '96 VW with only 95k on it and only one previous owner and listed for $5,000 (we paid $6,000 because, again, my husband is the greatest human on the planet and felt like he was cheating the guy with only 5k. It's fine. He's just a saint, is all). 
We brought it back down, registered it in my name, passed emissions and wheee! New car for the Douglass'! 

Only problem was his car, the other VW, was broken so he had to use Benji (my car's name) to get to work. But all his spare time was spent slaving in the heat and attempting to fix Marvin (his car's name).
We're going to skip over that process because it was an absolute nightmare. In every sense. It's still not over really.

But finally, at the beginning of this week he stated that the car would be mine and I needed to learn how to drive it. Starting with backing it out of the driveway so he could get Marvin out. 
Except it's been another load of months since I last drove a stick-shift and I don't retain information very well at all (as exposed by my horrid story-telling lacking any sort of concrete detail whatsoever). So I got in and couldn't even get the car to start. Not even a single turnover in the engine. Mark comes back to my door and states,
"You have to put the clutch in to start, remember? This car is different."

Umm, no. I don't remember. I don't' remember anything. Who are you?
So I start the car and he goes sauntering back to his car, giggling at my mishap.
And then no matter what I seemed to do, every time I began letting the clutch out the car would "ka-chunk! ka-klump!" rocking forward and back and then die.
I did that about 7 times until Mark stuck his head out impatiently and shouted (with quite the perturbed look on his face),
"Honey! The parking brake!!"

Imagine humiliation and then put some horse dung on top. That's about how I felt. I sheepishly, and red-faced, put the brake down and half rolled down into the gutter ramp and Mark didn't even wait for me to make it all the way out into the street he just popped into gear, zoomed out around me and away he went.
We had a little discussion on the rudeness of that behavior and that I very much needed him to say a kind word to me before he'd be gone till 11 at night or at the very least, roll down the window to say goodbye.
But before that discussion I was left to get the car back into the driveway. Which I mostly failed at.
I went inside, eyes stinging with tears (again!) but a harder, grimmer determination to absolutely NOT cry this time around.
Later, after I'd stewed awhile. I gathered up my lady-balls and marched back out to that car. I decided I was going to take it to the nearest parking lot and do what I'd always done. Start, and stop. 
Except for I only got to the first 4-way intersection stop sign and died. I put my caution-blinkers on again and rolled down the window to wave people by me. When I'd jerked and rolled myself halfway out into the intersection, a chatty lady stopped next to me to ask if I was alright. When I explained I was learning to drive stick she exclaimed,
"Ah! Oh, I could never do that. Had to stick with automatic for me. Good luck!"
And left me to my misery.
I got myself going again through sheer luck it seemed. I never felt like I knew what I was doing right to get going. I was coming up on a streetlight that was necessary to go through to get to the parking lot where I was headed but after that previous intersection I chickened out and turned onto another side street. 
I got stuck, AGAIN, and for the longest time could not. get. going. I began throwing fits like you see in the movies when the guy wants to show off for the girl but his old klunker of a car won't work and he has a seizure against the steering wheel. The frustration from all these failed attempts was welling up and about to make me scream.
I stopped and turned the car completely off, whipping up the parking brake and sending Mark a rage-text of angst and failure. I sat for another couple minutes just pissed off at the car and my inability to function.
I tried again and I wish I could say I was suddenly a genius but I wasn't. I got stuck over a speed bump which was super fun.
But then miraculously, my feet just kinda got it. I don't know what was right or different about it but it just started working. I was heading home but I was doing so good I decided I could try and go out on public streets. My new goal was to make it to a nearby McDonald's because I deserved a Dr. Pepper gosh dang it! As well as I wanted a straw to use for a pinterest nail painting experiment.

And you know what? I made it! There and back, without killing a single soul. I did kill the engine only a couple times but easily made it back on track. Died in the drive-thru lane actually. That was fun.

That night I had a zumba class to go to. 6 miles away from my house and over freeway too. I spent quite a bit of time agonizing over whether I was ready to do that or not. I gave myself a little bit of acid reflux just from stressing out so much. But I did drive there, stalled once at a light but got myself going again in one try and about 2 seconds flat. Got to the class.
It was cancelled
I was so drained of frustration and anger though that I could only laugh and go home again. Didn't stall a single bit on the way back.

So all in all, Benji makes driving manual bearable. I'm getting more awesome. And my husband is sure a supportive and amazing guy.

And there you have it.

Oh, ps, here's how that nail experiment went...

Nailed it!
Get it?

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