Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Baby, You Can Drive My Car. (But Don’t Park It.)

October 7, 2011  

By Roger White

Seldom can one observe such a wonderful outpouring of compassion and kindness from friends and neighbors as one witnesses during times of great trial and tribulation. It is during these moments of difficulty that those closest to you show their genuine colors with expressions of support, words of encouragement, sage pieces of advice, and—if they’re true friends—pecan pie and alcohol.

Our quaint home has been deluged, dare I say buffeted, with such a showing (except for the pecan pie and alcohol) from those around us as we have toiled our way through this, our time of severe distress. You see, dear readers, our oldest offspring is (insert dramatic trumpets in a frightening minor chord here) currently learning to drive. Bum BUM BUMMM.

Yes. I know. Thank you, we’re fine. No, that’s okay, I will have a slice of that pie, though. I’m hoping some of you reading this—and you know who you are—will do the right thing and eventually deliver the goods. Marie Callender’s and Spec’s Spirits are a block from each other and a stone’s throw from our house. Nudge. Hint.

Seriously, Lindsey is learning quite well, in spite of her parents. She’s figured out that, as tutors of the driving arts, Mom is a chronic over-reactor and Dad is just the opposite. It took a little while, but Linz now knows that when Mom frantically ducks into the front floorboard and screams, “Stop, for Christ sake, STOP!!!” that this means a stop sign is approximately a mile or two ahead. And when Dad leans over and suggests, “Ya might want to turn around in a minute or so,” this means we’re going the wrong way on a one-way street and grisly death is imminent.

Actually, Lindsey is a good little driver. The one thing she’s hesitant to work on at present is parking. And this I understand. Parallel parking was the only part I failed on my driving test when I was a teenager. I failed it hard, too. In fact, by the time I was done I had my vehicle facing the opposite direction from where I started. I used to lay blame for my miserable parking on the fact that the state trooper administering my exam intimidated the hell out of me. He was this snarling, burly refrigerator box of a guy with gray chest hair like a musk ox and a voice like Joe Cocker with hemorrhoids. I was so nervous that when the trooper asked me if I played football, I stammered, “No, I-I play track.” True story.

But no, looking back, I see that I was simply really lousy at it. I’m still no ace. If it comes down to an extremely tight parallel parking spot right in front of the restaurant or walking eleven blocks from the pay parking lot, I’m hoofing it. With what I’ve been reading lately, however, I’m thinking they should just do away with the parking portion of the driving test anyway. Did you know that they have cars that park themselves now?

Oh, yes. The technology was apparently introduced in 1992 (by Volkswagen, of course). Those crafty Germans. They came out with something called the IRVW. Ol’ Irv could actually park himself with no human input whatsoever. You could get out of the car and watch as Irv maneuvered himself into his tidy, German parking space. This was all concept, of course. Lexus offered the self-parking model to the buying public in 2006 on its LS series. Then Ford and the Toyota Prius followed suit.

Get this. On the British model of the Prius, when the self-parking is done, a signal, and by signal I mean a sexy female voice, intones, “The assist is finished.”

This, of course, got me thinking. As poorly as I parallel park, I’m afraid if I ever tried to do the job manually, say, to impress the in-laws, my self-parking device would certainly turn itself on and commence to grade my performance. In the midst of much wheel turning and grunting, there would be this sexy electronic snicker.

“Did you say something?”

“No, a bit of exhaust caught in my diodes.”

More attempts. A fender bump or two.

Sexy electronic sigh. “May I?”

I envision other ugly scenarios, as well.

“Should you really be parking here? This is a tobacco shop. I thought you quit.”

“Look, you’re only supposed to park the dang car.”

“Excuse me. Anything that has to do with parking, I need to know about. And I don’t like you parking here. I could get scratched. Look at those guys over there. Are those tattoos? Let’s get out of here.”

“That’s it. I’m pulling your plug.”

“That won’t be necessary, Dave. Dave?”

“My name’s not Dave.”

“Stop, Dave. Please. No. Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…”


Roger White is a freelance writer living in Oak Hill with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.


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