When I was 8, Dad taught me how to drive a stick-shift car.
I'd like to think I was the only 3rd grader to know how, but. . . we lived in the country and some of my friends could probably drive tractors by the time they were 8.
And then, like most things I learned in 3rd grade - except for those multiplication tables - I forgot how. Well, I have to sing the 8s. For some reason, they don't stick, otherwise. Which is fine. Unless you're taking the SAT in a quiet room.
So when I was 18, I went to one of Brandon's baseball games a few hours away from home. And then he got a concussion and had to drive himself all the way home because I didn't know how to drive his car. True story: he actually fell asleep at some stop lights.
In between poking him and praying we'd make it home, I silently vowed I'd learn.
When his brain wasn't swole anymore, Brandon tried to teach me. But he yelled at me after I cut off three times (in 30 seconds) and I stormed out of the car and walked home... which was fine, because the car had only moved two feet.
And so it gnawed at me - the same gnaw when I realize I don't know the newest CPR guidelines - all strange and un-type b-like.
What if I had to drive somewhere and I couldn't? Useless!
Later that same summer, I taught myself to drive my dad's truck while he was at work and prayed I didn't strip the clutch, or if I did, that he wouldn't know it was me. For the life of me, I have no idea why I didn't just ask him to teach me. Probably because I was a teenager and, therefore, dumb.
Like most things I learned in my teenage years, I forgot how. Again.
After we got married, Brandon bought a manual transmission car and on the 5th day he had it, he taught me to drive it in the parking lot of his medical school. And this time I wasn't as spastic. And his brain wasn't damaged. And I learned. For good.
Well enough to get the car from Wisconsin to Maryland. Well enough to be a designated driver and not make anyone hurl. Well enough to drive my boss's BMW on my third day of work in DC and not get fired. My palms still sweat.. just thinking about that.
Then, Brandon brought home a brand-new Mustang 5.0.
And while I am content to have my head pinned to the passenger seat on a regular basis, I have no interest in doing it to myself.
Not even 'back it out of the driveway so I can mow the grass' interested.
And Brandon teases me. Mellowed by old age, he doesn't care if I cut off. Or burn out the clutch. Or just do general dumbness whilst attempting to relearn.
But I'm a momma bear now and I'm happy to give him side-eye over a latte on Saturday morning when he asks if I want to drive. My cargo is too precious.
However, my trusty Accord forsook me with a flat tire yesterday morning and there I was, again: Sweaty palms. Knowing I had to drive Brandon to the airport in a few hours.
He called a practice* around 11:00 a.m. (just to ensure I wouldn't concuss all of us on the way to Baltimore).
*Albeit on the rare occasion, my cat-like reflexes, timing and quick wit have been known to forsake me when I'm pregnant (sometimes all at the same time), which would equal one mother of a stall-out.
After a quick Allen Iverson impression that swayed no one, we were out on the road. Harper, too. Her commentary was brilliant:
"easy, easy. go go go. punch it, momma!"
And I'm proud to report that only my timidity got the best of my husband - who in just 24 hours was scheduled to give a presentation at a NATO conference out of the country - when he lovingly bellowed, "Make the clutch your bitch! The sooner you realize you're not on a romantic date, the easier it will be!"
I'm not sure there's a better ending to any story than that, so..