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Back Seat Driving

Dee says I’m a back seat driver, but I beg to differ. I sit in front, so he hasn’t a leg to stand on… er, a seat to sit on.

He’s so ungrateful. And after all the times I’ve saved his life! I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve come to the rescue when he’s about to swerve off the road or hit the car in front of us.

I’ve mastered the art of warding off pending crisis. It’s in the execution of the perfect intake of air. You suck in a quick, sharp breath, sorta like an asthma attack. Try it now. That’s it, fill your lungs… form your throat into a yawning position… now project it. You got it! I credit that sound, sometimes known as the Wheeze-Thrust-Maneuver, with saving lives every day all over the world.

“DON’T DO THAT!” Dee screeches at me. “You almost made me get in an accident!” Oh, like I didn’t just save our lives. Sheesh!

I take my co-piloting very seriously. Somebody has got to watch the road! (Watch the road, will you, while I find something in my purse?) I can’t close my eyes when I’m in a car, no matter how tired I am, but Dee can. And does. He can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. So even if he swears he isn’t drowsy, I never fall for it.

“So why don’t I get in an accident when you’re not in the car?” He asks smugly. Ha! The answer to that is simple. His guardian angel is on duty when he drives, but when I’m in the car she

takes a much-needed coffee break!

Dee’s favorite trick is to pull between two semi-trucks. If you swerve even an inch toward on of them, the giant magnets attached to their undercarriage will draw you in and crush you like a soda can. Sometimes he gets us into what he thinks is the perfect position—with one semi next to us in the right lane and another just ahead in the left. Then he traps us there and holds his speed until I promise to take a nap. He’s crazy—but okay, okay!

I try to relax and settle into my seat. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. That’s it, think of something else. Try to sleep. My thoughts drift back in time; back to my very first car.

It was a light blue ’53 Plymouth and I bought it for a hundred bucks. It had no back seat—hence the co-pilot aka back-seat-driver had to be in front. There were holes in the floorboard and you could watch the street zoom by if you took your eyes off the road. That was great in summer because there was no air conditioner but not so hot in the winter without a working heater.

Don’t get your violin out just yet—there’s more.

The windshield wipers were broken and I would stick my arm out the window and wipe off the rain and snow with my cold, gloveless hand. I worked nights at Primary Children’s Hospital and always parked my car on the slope of a hill so I could start it by compression. The brakes were shot and the tires bald, so every night that I got home safely, I breathed a sigh of relief. (Notice that I didn’t say every night, but that’s a story for another day.)

To this very day I dream of being out of control in that damn car. Now I can hear the violins. Actually, the music is from the car radio. I rub my eyes. Did I really fall asleep?

Yawning, I mumble, “Your blinker is on.”

“I was going to turn.” Dee says. “Now will you please get in the back seat where you belong!”