Driving Lessons: Surviving (Barely) Day 3

Gabe Plays Chicken – and Survives

— Reading time: 3 minutes: 

It’s called the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memory, particularly the transference of short-term to long-term memory. Mine is defective enough that I have selective recall. I only remember good things. So in a couple days, when Gabe says to me, remember how close that pickup truck came to ending our lives on Manchester Road, I’ll be able to look him in the eye and say, “what pickup truck?”

A defective brain can be a very good thing.

It’s anybody’s guess why Gabe would pull up to Manchester Road – a busy four-lane street car– look to his right, look to his left, see a pickup truck barreling toward us a few ticks beyond the 40 mph speed limit … and choose to make a left turn anyway.

Realizing what he’d done, he brakes – in the lane where the truck is hurtling toward us!

“GO GO GO GO,” I scream. He slides his foot. Brake pedal to gas. Feeds the engine. We lurch forward. Somehow the pickup avoids us. The next lane is vacant. Gabe glides into it. We escape. As if this whole event was choreographed for a chase scene in the next Jason Bourne movie.

This, I discover, presents yet another benefit of a convertible. If one of us has peed our pants – I haven’t checked either of us yet – the wind is whooshing in and canceling out the smell of urine. For a half-mile, neither of us says a word.

Eventually, Gabe flicks on his appendix to turn left. I ask him where he’s going, and he says he needs to park for a minute and take a break.

“Are you kidding me? That was the greatest comeback since the Buffalo Bills beat Houston in the ’93 playoffs. You don’t need a break. We’ll turn off in a bit and cruise some side streets. You’re fine.”

“Did you see that truck?” He stammers out every syllable.

“I saw the dead mosquitoes in that truck’s grille. Of course, I saw it. But the thing to remember here is you didn’t panic. You took control and got us out of that mess. Next time it’ll be better to avoid the mess in the first place, but we won’t worry about that right now. This is a good point to introduce today’s rule of the road: Don’t panic. You’ve mastered that one already.”

“I don’t want to practice that one anymore.”

At length, we pull into a Phillips 66. I pry his hands off the steering wheel, where he has deposited a large sample of DNA. We go inside to get a beverage. He’s earned one. I’ve earned something stiffer than a Mountain Dew, but he follows me through the liquor section where I pretend I’m looking for Kleenex and circle back to the fountain soda. He tosses me the keys. “You’re driving home.”

I toss the keys back. “I didn’t bring my license,” I lie. “Get back on the horse.”

We return to the car, Gabe in the driver’s seat, immensely more relaxed than ten minutes earlier, and he turns to look at me. A smile slowly comes to him. “Okay, one thing,” he says. “Mom doesn’t hear about the pickup truck.”

I furrow my brow. Tilt my head like a dog. “What pickup truck?” I say. He laughs, thinking I’m in cahoots with him and not realizing his father has a defective hippocampus.

If Gabe knew I was blogging, he’d be thinking: Hope Mom doesn’t read the blog tomorrow.

10 thoughts on “Driving Lessons: Surviving (Barely) Day 3

  1. Your son will have a bright future in the stunt driving industry…which in these days of cell phones should be a pre-requisite for a driver’s license. Glad you guys are all right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the long run, I suppose, it’s even better this way. Well, with the right spin anyway. Now you know you can get out of a predicament. Next up: work on avoiding the predicament altogether. I see many more gray hairs in my near future.


  2. It took me a day to comment b/c I was IN THE TRUCK with ya’ll and I had to recover, and yes, I had something stronger than a Mt. Dew.

    I did get a chuckle out of “I saw the mosquitoes on the truck’s grille…” sentence. I needed that chuckle to wipe out the whimpering.

    This post got me to thinking about the close calls I’ve had, but, then I got all freaked out, b/c evidently my hippocampus is functioning a la perfecto. Dayum.

    Glad you survived. There isn’t a Day Four posted yet. Now I’m worried.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Yeah, after what has become known as The Pickup Putdown Incident, we agreed it might be wise to take a day off from the road and let our nerves settle back into place.

      Sometimes it takes a little perspective to realize what just happened. This is one of those times. If that was you in the pickup — thanks for not blaring your horn. It was downright considerate of you because you certainly were afforded the opportunity and would have been excused.


  3. I love that the blinker is now called the appendix. I feel like you handled that pretty well. My dad got very angry when I did stupid things while learning how to drive…I think because he feared for his life! :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Serena. I’m not sure what causes things. I used to get angry at stupid things. Now, I don’t get angry when I probably should. It hasn’t required much scientific reasoning on my part to realize which works better. I’ve had a better relationship with my son after a week or two of driving than in the past six years.

      I don’t know about you, but blogging helps. Forces you to reflect on things you’d otherwise let you pass by without a second thought. I’m grateful to everyone who visits because it keeps me sharper and it keeps my mind actively engaged in life.

      So thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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