When I was 12 years old I learned to drive my mom’s 1966 Buick Skylark two door hard top. It had three on the tree, an iffy clutch and temperamental breaks.
That was my first car. I had been upgraded from a tractor, four wheelers, and the ranch pick up I dented (only the tailgate).
I drove it daily 11 miles to the bus stop.
Yes 11 miles. Or was it 12? At any rate it was gravel and I competed with oilfield drivers for space and speed.
The best part of the road was cattle guard at the top of hill, and I was sure we would catch air every time.
I had always pictured us flying over the top like a movie.
Windows down. Radio loud. Hair flowing with that rebel yell.
In reality the landing was hard and the radio didn’t work.
Driving that car taught me so much. How to shut it down, down shift and coast when the clutch went out. Or not to panic if I had no breaks.
Nope. I know what you’re thinking. Knock on wood and to quote my dad as he says to my mom, ” have I ever wrecked you?”
The answer is no.
I learned to take the ditch. It slowed me down and I always rolled to a stop. ( or the one time I eased to a stop with the help of Grant’s house I still can see his dad’s girlfriend coming out to check the house and he replied, “we’re fine. Thanks for asking”)
Mom’s Buick got retired. When I got too cool or maybe because it wasn’t street legal. It’s funny because it’s the car that holds the most memories for me.
I took those lessons with me.
I had to learn to push it to floor when I can; there’s going to be rough spots but learn to slow down or it will just beat the shit out of you. Take the high side and go low on those corners.
And when you feel like you can’t stop; look for a ditch to help slow you down and pray.
Just don’t stay there. You have the ability to push yourself out.
Every chance you get roll down the windows, push those gas station sun glasses up and pull your cap down low.
I still like to drive fast.
Only I call him Blue and he has heated seats and the radio works. I talk to him. I ask him if he wants to run. Or apologize to him on cold winter days when we have to take it slow.
Yes, I still roll the windows down and play the music too loud. Yes, I always wear my sunnies and my snap back.
And I’m still looking for that cattle guard on a hill.