I just saw a cute post on Facebook. It had a Halloween themed picture of a witch riding a broom. Captioned “Why, yes I can drive a stick!” made me chuckle and of course reminded me of a story.
Several years ago my brother Harvey and I decided that we would go to my Aunt Edith and Uncle Donnie’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary. In South Dakota. The only option we had for transport was a truck that was REALLY past it’s sell by date! It was a stick shift.
It had been a while, OK a LONG while since I had driven a stick. Dad had gotten a little international jeep type thing and we called it the “Green Weenie” yes it was an almost florescent shade of Green!! We could take the top off and it was used for several parades and transporting high school kids. With the top off the back of the “Truck” part and the cab seemed to be just an open air ride. I know it wouldn’t pass safety inspections these days. It had no seat belts – the seat in the back were mostly just the tire covers! The windshield could be laid down and so it looked just like a – well it looked just like a Jeep! It had the added advantage of being a stick shift. You knew it was coming up to that didn’t you? Yes, I learned to drive a stick shift in the “Green Weenie” Dad figured it couldn’t be damaged if I ground a few (OK, a lot) of gears. The wheel had so much play in it it was almost like driving a bumper car. But I was thrilled!! At my tender age – I was driving a stick shift!! Dad did joke about getting out and kissing the ground a couple of times – at least I hope he was joking!
This all leads up to my story. Yes, I know but I usually get around to it sooner or later, this time it was just later – much much later. OK, on with the story. Because the driving lessons with my Dad happened in the last century, I decided before we left that taking a few laps around a vacant parking lot could not go amiss. I still had it!! After a FEW jack-rabbiting shifts it was smooth as milk… OK maybe cottage cheese. But I felt confident that we could get there.
After the Anniversary party we found out that Englewood had been particularly hard hit by a freak hail storm. We were still living in Mom and Dad’s house at the time and Peter, my son, was staying there by himself. With 10 or twenty of his closest friends. I called to find out about any damage and his reply of “What storm?” didn’t instill confidence in me. Harvey had been shoeing a horse while we were back there so he wanted to stay another day. My Mom radar was pinging so I REALLY wanted to make it home. When it was known that I was trying to leave a group of family was in my Cousin Roger’s dinning room. Someone brought up the fact that it was a stick shift in the truck. Thinking on my feet I said “Of course I can drive a stick, my Dad didn’t raise no female fools!” out of the whole room of about 7 or 8 people the only ones that laughed were me (of course I just crack me up!!) and my Aunts. OK, the rest of them were guys including my two older brothers! But we made it home that night!