After Dawn watched last week's Mad Men episode where young Sally Draper drives Grandpa Gene's Lincoln at his urging, Dawn sent me an e-mail note.
"Remind me of that story when your dad made you drive."
Well, it wasn't my dad, it was my great aunt Fay. She made me call her GREAT Aunt Fay with an emphasis on the great. And she was great.
Anywho, she and I were driving to north Louisiana to pick up her daughter at college. I loved those trips because Great Aunt Fay treated me like an adult and seemed to enjoy my company. Plus campus trips were a treat to a small town girl. A 10 or 11 year old girl like me.
It was a 4 hour drive and at some point Great Aunt Fay said she was sleepy and pulled over on the side of the road. She got out of the car, walked over to the passenger side, opened my door and instructed me to trade seats. I thought she was going to take a quick nap and wanted to be more comfortable.
I walked around and sat in the driver seat. The car is still idling.
"You know how to drive?"
"It's easy. This is a straight road. Just drive straight."
I thought she was pulling my leg. GREAT Aunt Fay was also a GREAT prankster.
"See this number right here? The 50? Don't go past that. If someone gets behind you, slow down so they can pass."
She pointed to the seat adjustment lever and I pushed the seat as close as possible. She reached over and pulled the transmission shifter to DRIVE.
We travel about a mile down the two lane highway. "You're a good driver. It's easy, isn't it?"
I am too petrified to speak. The steering wheel seems ungainly in my hands. I don't know how to smoothly move it side to side like experienced drivers do naturally so I perform my best version of how I've seen mom and dad steer.
We move down the road with no more conversation and when I finally get the courage to look over at her, GREAT AUNT FAY IS ASLEEP!
Holy guacamole! Now I know there are only 2 eyes on the road so I remain vigilant and don't look away again. No messing with the radio, no awareness of hot or cold or air vents - just drive.
After awhile, I relaxed my death grip on the wheel and actually enjoyed the drive.
What seemed like hours, GREAT Aunt Fay opened her eyes and declared she had a great nap and asked where we were.
"Pull over and stop and I'll drive."
Able to speak again, I asked "How do I pull over?"