Today I was reminded of something that happened way back in the beginning of my relationship with my husband. It’s one of those fleeting memories that randomly makes an appearance, and brings with it a head shake, then a chuckle, and finally, what an old friend of mine would call a “warm fuzzy”.
We were young when we became serious, so young that my mother didn’t want to believe exactly how serious we were; she kept referring to what we had a puppy love or infatuation, and I honestly think it took 10 years and 3 children before she finally believed that maybe we truly in love. But just maybe.
I only had my learner’s permit when we began dating, while my husband had both a license and a car. Every now and then he would let me steer the car. (I know, I know… if I caught my own kids doing this stuff, I would be less than thrilled. Who am I kidding… I would freak, but I was young and foolish and didn’t realize the danger. Yes, that is the same excuse all young, foolish kids use when they are doing something really stupid, but it was a different time and I really wasn’t thinking about how idiotic it was.)
He would sit in the driver’s seat and control the gas pedal and brake while I would sit as close to him as possible and simply steer. Looking back, I’m sure it was for that reason alone he allowed me (encouraged me?) to do it as I couldn’t have been any closer unless I had been sitting on his lap.
Now we both grew up in small, neighboring New England towns complete with rolling hills and old cart roads through pastures and farmland that were simply later paved over. It was nothing like today’s planned community with careful thought put into where the road would bend or cross another. These back roads, as we used to call them, were generally narrow and there were a lot of curves and corners around which it was difficult to see. There were often trees surrounding both sides of the road and they had no lines painted on them to indicate if you were fully on the right side.
One day, during one of these “driving” lessons (and let’s face it, I wasn’t really driving), I was focused on the road and realized we were picking up speed and there was a very sharp turn to the right around a tree ahead of us.
And he wasn’t. Slowing. Down.
I was so frightened, I couldn’t even say anything. My attention was focused completely on the road and I was thinking about how I could navigate the turn properly. So, I simply gripped the wheel tighter and tried to keep the all four tires on the pavement (and prayed there wasn’t another car coming from the other direction).
At some point, the look on my face gave him an inkling as to my fear and he grabbed the wheel and applied the brakes as we were about halfway around the curve. He asked me why I hadn’t warned him, and when I was calm enough to speak, I told him I thought at some point he would notice himself and slow down. Then my fear turned to anger and I asked him why he hadn’t been looking at the road. His answer immediately caused my anger to completely vanish – “I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop looking at you.”
He always did know exactly the right thing to say.
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