July 22, 2007

Little Red Chevette

I was quilting last night (a quilt post is way way overdo, I just keep forgetting) and decided the best way for me to get through the 48 more squares of hand quilting that remain, would be for me to pop in old movies.

Eh. Old is relative.

I picked Say Anything with John Cusack. I love his movies, but will pass on his new horror flick. I don’t remember the hair being so ‘80s’ in Say Anything, but then again, it came out in 1989, so there would be that. I’m glad I never had that big hair going on. Good grief. I’d be horrified looking at old pix. (My hair won’t do big hair.)

There is a scene in the movie where Lloyd is teaching Diane how to drive a stick shift and it brought back a flood of memories of my learning about life.

On a sidenote...And why don’t they make more cars in stick? Why is it that every car I’ve owned since my little Mazda, that I drove into the ground and outgrew in a family way, has had to have automatic? I really don’t think they make a stick shift mini-van, which just shows, I picked the perfect name for my vehicle, the asexual mom-mobile.

I prefer stick to automatic. That is easy to say of course, being a flatlander, but even when I lived where it was more ‘hilly’ I did prefer stick. It is a control issue. I’m in control of the motor when I’m driving a stick, telling it what to do. With an automatic, it does it on its own accord. One day I’ll own a stick again. Stick is sexy and powerful. Automatic mini-van… not sexy and very very… Mommish.

Anyway, TGOO owned a little Chevette that was manual transmission. I used to call it his ‘vette. That was his functional tool to get to work. Hubba drove the family car, which seated all five of us. We had a 1970 Lemans Pontiac as well that TN and I drove. (Morrigan is six years younger than I.)

TGOO took to teaching me how to drive his stick shift when I was 17 and… well… my brother and sister know how that went, because TGOO is not a patient person, a trait I admittedly inherited, and after much frustration on his part with yelling and ‘colorful language’ and my grinding that clutch, and conking out at inopportune times and never being able to get past a stop sign without doing a massive herky jerk in the car, I gave up. Some how we got the car home, and I said, “I’m done. I’m not going to do it.”

And I had no intention of learning. Ever. He tried to convince me. “I could not handle knowing there was a vehicle out there I could not drive”, he would say. And I’d ignore it.

I’m pretty damn stubborn.

I was finished and I sure as hell wasn’t going to get back in the car with him. It was too frustrating for both of us.

Then a year later my great aunt died. It was my father’s father’s sister. I wasn’t too fond of her. Actually, I didn’t really like her at all. She was cold and distant, unlike her husband or any of our other family. I think as an adult, I’d try harder, knowing people better, but as a teenager, I just knew I was not fond and when she died of brain cancer, I decided not to go to the funeral in Birmingham.

I had a job. I was a waitress at Quincy’s Family Steakhouse, my first job, and I could take off for the weekend if I had to as well as cancel classes (I was going to college in the summer as well), but I had no intention. And something else was going on, something with cars and for some reason there were transportation issues and I needed to know how to drive a stick if I was staying home or I had no transportation.

The no transportation thing was not going to fly. I had a job and school.

And there was no way in hell I was going to the funeral of someone I didn’t like when they were alive. No way.

So as the whole discussion was ensuing as to what we were going to do, I got TGOO’s keys, jumped in his little red 'vette and taught myself how to drive it. It took about 30 minutes of my going around the neighborhood, stop signs, hills, the whole nine yards.

Then I drove home, gave him back the keys and said, “I’m staying home and going to work.”

I learned a few lessons from that weekend. I learned how to drive a stick and actually preferred driving his car over any other at that point… I fell in love with manual transmission. My favorite car to drive at 18 was a frickin’ Chevette.

And I learned I should have gone to the funeral, even if I didn’t like her because… I loved my granddaddy.

A few months after the funeral I saw Grandaddy and he said, “Why didn’t you come to the funeral?”

I replied, “Grandaddy, I didn’t like your sister much. It would have been hypocritical for me to come.”

He looked at me and laughed, taking both my hands in his, and said, “Hell, you didn’t have to come for her funeral! You should have come to see me! I missed you!”

I regret to this day I didn’t go, just so I could see him. But it had to be learned and it was a lesson that HE actually taught me, one that may have been lost on me if I had not made that decision at 18.

Funerals are not for the dead, but for the living. You will notice that when someone I know dies, I try to never miss their funeral or viewing. I attend one of them… just to tell the family I remembered. I try harder to attend funerals and/or viewings than I do weddings.

It all stemmed from that weekend with the Chevette and my vast determination, in the summer of 1984.

Posted by Boudicca at July 22, 2007 09:36 PM | TrackBack

I've never been to a funeral even though I've had many "opportunities" (mad choice of words I suppose)

As for stick, my mom tried to teach me in their Ford Ranger pickup. We did this once. Never again.

It urks me still to this day that I don't know how. I understand the concept, just need to get in there and do it.

Posted by: Sissy at July 22, 2007 11:56 PM

Daughter just got a car with manual transmission. Adapted quickly and now loves her little red car. I will send you a pic with a story later.

Posted by: Peggy U at July 23, 2007 02:02 AM

Did you ever see my little pile of sh.t? A sh.t brown vw bug? Manual? I got pictures and stories... one day.

Posted by: vw bug at July 23, 2007 05:52 AM

Come to think of it, I think when you came over for dinner and I retrieved you from your hotel you were surprised to see me driving a stick.

I had to wait for them to find my orange Element in a five-speed. Standard transmissions are not the norm anymore. The sales guy kept insisting I get an automatic. It must have been easier for them to sell me a car from the lot than search for the car I actually wanted.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at July 23, 2007 07:22 AM

Sissy- Its just practice and getting the feel. And every car is different, or so it has felt to me, getting the right finesse as to when to engage the clutch. i think littler cars are easier to learn with as there is not so much 'car' to worry about, although I think that shouldn't probably matter.

Peggy- Holy crap. That is a hysterical story! The car fits her too. I wonder if she will teach him? Heh. If he will allow it?

VW- that is not what we drove when we were in college, I don't think...

Writersblock- I was shocked. I was thinking, "She got this on a lot, stick?" You just don't see them anymore, unless its a little car, and even then, you don't much anymore. Not down here, in S. FL. For sure.

Posted by: Bou at July 23, 2007 07:35 AM

Was Prince blaring on the radio??

Posted by: Christina at July 23, 2007 09:16 AM

First car I ever bought was a 91 Ford Ranger, 5 speed. Didn't know how to drive a stick when I bought it, but it was $1000 cheaper and all I could afford.

Now that I can afford automatic trans I will never drive another stick. My knees couldn't handle a stick anymore and after getting stuck in a snowstorm on a hwy for 3 hours in very very slow moving traffic with my stupid stick I voided never to own a stick again.

I couldn't walk for days.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at July 23, 2007 11:23 AM

Like you, I preferred driving a stick, until my accident. I can still do it, but my left leg is not so reliable and occasionally gets part of the brake pedal. Not too much fun when trying to do a power shift on entering the freeway.

You nailed it! Funerals are for the living. I am so sorry that I missed my godfather's funeral earlier this year.

Posted by: Denny at July 23, 2007 09:24 PM

I prefer a stick because

1) control

2) better gas mileage

3) a new clutch is cheaper than a new transmission

Posted by: Harvey at July 24, 2007 08:49 AM

The only place I prefer automatic is the stop and go line up at the Canadian border crossing. Clutch gets a real workout there.

Posted by: Peggy U at July 24, 2007 01:29 PM

My car is a stick - Audi A4 - I love it. There are hills in MA so it's not like Chicago where it's flat and I have no trouble driving it. It's so much more fun than an automatic.

Posted by: Teresa at July 24, 2007 04:22 PM

You have much greater mental strength than I do. I do not even want to go to my funeral. Cremate me and throw my ashes on some nice lake.

As for the stick shift, be glad you can drive one. Us seniors don't have the legs or knees.

nice article. Enjoyed.

Posted by: nickel1942 at July 24, 2007 04:23 PM

So you quilt? Do you knit, by any chance?

Posted by: Peggy U at July 25, 2007 02:44 AM