Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Drivers Training...Day 1

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Well it finally happened. I took Nigel out last night for about 30-minutes. Do you remember when I said this boy was tall? Well I wasn't lying. His legs are like mini-Mississippi rivers, only unlike the real river, these mini-rivers seem to never end. I would say he is 75% leg, 25% torso. When he sat in the drivers seat, his knees where past the steering wheel...HIS KNEES folks! Then to add injury to insult, Nigel yields these man-sized feet that seem to not be connected to his central nervous system. They act independently...and rarely do what normal people's feet would do when driving a car. As I looked over at Nigel...the boy who used to drink from a sippie-cup all the time, because it was easier. The boy whose life I saved when there was a frog in his room. The boy who once called me "little bastard." The boy who saved my virgin eyes in Amsterdam by telling me, "whatever you do...don't look left." The boy...who no longer is a boy. The boy who has grown...literely...into a young man.

Anyway, as I looked over at Nigel, I said a little prayer and tried to remember what it was like the first time I got behind the wheel. Of course, par for course, I'd like to think everything I did was perfect and with out hiccup, but I'm sure Kenny would have a different tale to tell. I can't remember if it was the first time I ever drove, but I like to think it was. It was in a 1972 Ford F-250. This truck was a beast. The gears where so far apart, they had zip codes. Power-steering consisted of this 90-pound string bean pulling and pulling and pulling until the truck was heading in the direction I wanted. I remember parallel parking with two trash cans. Kenny said, "if you can drive this truck...you can drive anything." He was right. I pretty much am the master driver. Several times while in third world countries I've had to drive cars and trucks from Russia. It took me a few minutes, but before long we were in motion.

Back to Nigel...I used the same theory Kenny had. I put Nigel in the Rodeo. Two reasons: 1) It is a real tough car to drive. The clutch has a weird friction point on it. 2) THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL HE'LL EVER DRIVE MY SAAB!
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You know what? He did really good. It only took him about a minute to get the car moving forward. I was impressed. We were on a real road...no parking lot. We had water on both sides of us and at times the Chesapeake Bay in front of us. We made it to third gear three times. We backed up, made a three point turn, and generally had a good time. He only stalled four times. There were only a dozen or so bumpy starts and quick stops. Remember his feet aren't connected and the Rodeo's brakes are touchy! I'm sure it was pure nerves, but Nigel couldn't resist man-handling the steering wheel and shifter. He held them so tight he had veins popping out of veins on his thin arms. I thought he was going to push the shifter right through the radio when he'd put it into first and third gear. He was nervous, but he really did a GREAT job! LADIES AND GENTLEMAN...we have some natural talent here... There were no cars on the street. I felt relatively confident Nigel could keep the Rodeo in motion and on the street, so I told him to drive us home. We were about 1.5 miles away. All he had to do was keep it in 2nd the whole way, make a right turn on Messick and a right turn into our driveway. He agreed. As we made our way down Poquoson Ave, some little terrorists popped up and flanked both sides of the road. Then like a bad episode of the Twilight Zone, five cars merged at the intersection of Poquoson and Messick. I tried to verbally tell Nigel what to do: "Indicate you're turning right, clutch in, downshift to second, turn." Simple enough! NOPE! Nigel somehow heard, "Freeze up, indicate you're turning right, stop in the middle of the intersection, clutch in, stay in third, gas and clutch until you're moving again, clutch out, go!" WE MADE IT! We got a bit close to the ditch on the right side of the road, but we didn't hit anything or anyone and no one honked their horn. Not bad! I think the first time I came to an intersection I was there for three or four light cycles. OOPS! OK, our final task was to turn right into our driveway. It is kind of on a bend and is flanked on both sides by deep ditches. To make matters worse, the cars we blocked when we turned onto Messick, were right on our ass. Once again I tried to verbally tell Nigel what to do: "Because there are cars behind you, you want to indicate you're turning right way in advance. Clutch in, downshift to second gear, brake, turn." Nigel however heard: "Indicate, turn, brake!"

We made it...He was happy, I was extremely proud, we were both alive.


Anonymous said...

We all gotta start somewhere! My Grandfather pulled out the huge Cadi and taught me. Stick shift took a couple of years. Chris, your probably the funnest-bravest teacher Nigel will ever have. ~Prima

dadysangel_87 said...

Well, tell Nigel, if it helps, one of the first times I got behind the wheel, I pulled the rear view mirror right off the windshield! I think the first lesson I got was in my dad's little brown truck in a gravel parking lot on a road by Speicher. It was the parking lot-a few bushes-the river! I hit the gas and spun out and it scared me to death!!!