Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Driving With Crazy
After we got the trailer situation under control, we were “free” to go places and do things. One of the things my folks really enjoy is going out to dinner. They don’t go very often now, because my dad has a very difficult time getting around. He uses a walker because unlike almost every other person who has had knee replacement surgery (twice on the same knee), it did not help him move better, it made things worse.
According to him, anyway. His main goal in life was to be a pathetic little old man, and he started defining that role when he was still in his 60’s. He’s had about 20 years to perfect it and he’s getting it down quite well.
So, my parents tend to stick around the homestead… well, my dad does, but my mother is very busy with her church work and is away a few days every week. This does not displease either of them, because after 60 years together, they can stand as much apart time as possible.
But when we come to town, they love to show us around and we end up going out to dinner every few nights. When my parents lived up in Washington, they knew good food, especially Chinese food, as we have access to some of the best. Their taste has slipped a few degrees and the place they hauled us off to that first Sunday was… dismal. They, of course, loved it.
One of the nice things about my car is that it’s quite comfortable for four adults. My mother drives a mini van, but it’s not that comfortable, because she has filled it with… stuff. Lots of stuff, so it takes her a while to make enough space for passengers. It’s easier to take my car. Besides, her driving makes me wet myself.
In my car, my father is a good passenger. I think he’s afraid he’ll accidently push a button and something terrible will happen. Like triggering the ejector seat… So he sits quietly and minds his manners.
My mother, on the other hand, takes backseat driving to a whole new level, and while I appreciate getting directions on where we’re going, I end up reminding her several times that I do not want a thousand directions at once because a) I’m in a strange city, b) hello! traffic! and c) I cannot remember that much while I’m trying to find my way AROUND pedestrians and not OVER them. She is also the type to say, “sure, you can go this way,” and as you are heading in the direction she insists will get you where you want to go, she’ll pipe up with, “or you could have gone the other way and gone past that other place that we like so much, you know where my friend Gert and I go every so often, blah, blah, blah nothing germane to the final destination, drivel.”
Dear Goddess, SHUT HER THE FUCK UP!
I will give her credit for continuity, she does the same thing when I’m driving her van.
My dad, on the other hand, becomes a raving lunatic when he’s riding shotgun in the van. According to my mother, he does similar things when she’s driving, but not quite as bad. For instance, the car ahead of me went through the green light, but was stopped by traffic just past the cross walk. I decided to forgo blocking the intersection and stayed back where it was legal. The next thing I know, there is a lot of flapping and hand waving, mixed with grunting and other strange noises coming from the front passenger seat.
“What?” I asked him.
“Why aren’t you going?”
“Because I don’t want a ticket. When the intersection is clear, I’ll move forward.” Just then the car ahead of me made room, and away we went. He was… satisfied.
Before I continue, just let me say that my father has dentures. New dentures. New, ill-fitting dentures. He’s always had sloppy speech which made him difficult to understand, but now that he has sloppy teeth, it’s almost impossible. He sounds like the love child of Sylvester the cat and Donald Duck. Just toss in a nasal whine and you’ve got my dad’s voice.
Yes, it’s that lovely. He used to sing really well in a marvelous baritone, but evidently, little old men don’t sing baritone, they mumble through their nostrils.
We made it through town and headed toward the final stoplight before the hitting the highway. There were several cars ahead of us and the light was green a few seconds before anyone moved. Suddenly, he started shouting, “Come on, you gol’dang Irishmen! That light’s not gonna get any greener!” Of course, it sounded more like, “Kem en ya gol deng Irshmen! Nat lighsh’s no’ gonna geh a-e geener.” If he hadn’t been saying that same damn thing at every green light for the last 40 years (or more), I probably wouldn’t have understood a word of it.
Despite knowing what was coming, it was still startling and I told him there would be no more shouting in the car, or he’d have to walk home, and I wouldn’t let him use his walker. He shut up, but that was my mother’s cue to start yammering on about how he does that all the time while she’s driving too. Yay, it’s another pissing contest with my mother! How awesome. I declined to play.
After dinner, even though the sun was still high in the sky, I was implored by the D.O.T. to turn my headlights on for safety. So I did. I asked where the switch was and turned them on. Just like that. Five minutes later, my dad said, “Turn your headlights on.”
“No you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did.”
“I can’t see them.”
“Well, no, it’s still daylight.”
Tam piped up from the back, “You have your sunglasses on, Pop.”
He fussed and fumed, and for the next forty miles, he tried to convince me I had not turned on the fucking lights. When we got home, however, I forgot to turn them off and the warning bell started dinging the minute I opened the driver door.
“Whass’at?” He demanded.
“Ah, that would be the van letting me know I FORGOT TO TURN OFF THE GODDAMN HEADLIGHTS.”
“Huh. How ‘bout ‘at?”
Yeah, how about that?
Next: Profiled…at Walmart!