Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stick-Shift; a Series

I have recently acquired the very first vehicle of my lifetime that is registered IN MY NAME. My own name. My very own brand spankin' new name, at that. The title says so and everything.
Also a first, it's a manual.

And here is where I have to open my clenched hands and let my little ball of pride slip free and fall out into the dirt. Where you have free range to judge, as you please.
But as I tell you these woeful tales of misery and demise, please think on me in the most compassionate way you can muster. Because I tell you what, I wish I had a different story here.

I wish I could tell you I'm a beast and took to driving stick like an octopus would take to sticking to the ceiling. (Whether that would work or not I don't know, but they both have the word "stick" in them.) Or that I'm the speediest speed demon to ever never get a ticket because I'm like an Indy500 prodigy dynamite woman who obeys laws cuz she's cool like that.
Instead, I'll tell you how it's really been for me to learn stick-shift.

It all started back in 9th grade, when I first got my permit. Maybe it was 10th grade. But then I'd be older and more susceptible to responsibility expectations and the ability to grasp concepts faster so we'll stick with 9th grade. My dad still had his little baby. His toy car. The mini cooper S soft top. A 5-speed manual. He rather looked like Mr. Incredible, in fact...

Except a lot less miserable because he thought that tiny car was the best thing since sliced bread.
So he took me out driving! He drove to the church parking lot and then we switched places. I plopped down in the seat and realized I had suddenly forgotten what planet I was on let alone what sort of contraption I was supposed to be operating. I didn't know how to turn it on. How to open the door. What the first step to going was. I was an empty-minded idiot. But of course Dad was there (laughing at my brain-blip) and coached me [roughly] on the basics of manual driving while also rambling off stories that had no pertinence to anything ever. If there was ever someone to get off topic lightning quick, it's my father. Bless 'is heart.
A couple rounds about the church building and then he says, "Hey, let's go out on the road." Like he's proposing we take a picnic in a flowery field. Nothing to worry about right?
But he's Dad so I wasn't about to argue. So I haltingly pull out onto the road and successfully manage a left turn to go east and head out toward Bush Hwy. The perfect, long, mostly empty scenic highway to practice starting and stopping.
But lo! A wild stop sign appears! 
That awkward moment when you seriously contemplate running straight through a stop sign because you're just too terrified to put the clutch back in.
But I stopped. And tried to start. And tried. And tried. And naturally there was a line of three scumbag, impatient misers behind who were just waiting and hoping for an excuse to lay on their blaring horns. 
And you know what I did?
I cried.
I broke down and burst into tears. Dad doesn't skip a beat and hops right out of the car, comes around and takes over. I got the hint the moment he opened the doors and just scooched over the console to stare pitifully out the window in complete morbid humiliation.
He zoomed on out of there and the people I stole 10 whole seconds of life from were soon gone down other roads and to other places. Dad got us out to the high way and parked the car down off the side of the road in the dirt and was quiet for just a second before chuckling and saying,
"I think that guy thought I was getting out to beat the crap outta him. His face was terrified."
I giggled and remembered the incident and about started crying again.
But he made me try again and mostly let me shift up and up and cruise along in 5th gear.
I'm pretty sure I couldn't look my mom in the eyes when we got home. I actually don't even remember if I was the one that got us there. Traumatized. Blocked it out, I suppose.

I never drove that car again.

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