Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rollin'

Boy has his learner's permit. Wasn't it just the other day he was seven years old and waiting in line to meet Mickey Mouse?

I took him out for his inaugural drive yesterday, in the most remote parking lot I could find on the college campus. He practiced backing up, pulling into a parking space, and driving around in circles. At first we stuck to idling speed, so he could get a handle on the car before we started accelerating.

You should know that our car is a Honda Fit. It's a teeny little hatchback with a snub nose, and I adore it. It's a Tardis: fold down the back seats and it's got huge cargo room, while still being a little teeny car. But it does have a lighter engine than, say, the Honda Accord; 130hp vs. 185, for example. 

When I test-drove it, I cracked that it had two little hamsters in wheels for the engine. Whenever the car has to do something special, like go uphill with the entire Literary Underworld in the back, we encourage the hampsters to run faster. (At one point on our camping trip last weekend, Jimmy declared one of the hamsters dead. "Is not!" I insisted. "He's just sleeping.")

As Ian drove the car around the first bend on idle, he grinned and said, "I'm the slowest driver ever."

I replied, "That's okay. The hamsters can use the rest."

"The hamsters are walking," he said, and that kicked off my giggles.

Ian did very well, managing not to hit anything with my precious new car and managing some good trial runs around empty places of the campus. He even started to use the accelerator to pick up some speed.

"Now the hamsters are running!" I said.

"They're jogging," he replied.

That did it. I had a hysterical fit of giggles as I envisioned the hamsters in Jane Fonda headbands and legwarmers working up a sweat under our hood. It's possible I was a bit loopy. Hey, it was my tiny baby spawn behind the wheel of my brand new car. I think I handled it pretty well.

(Yes, I know he's hardly a tiny baby. Six feet tall and 185, he's more man than boy now. I still see the baby cheeks when I look at him, and I think I always will.)

So batten your hatches, Edwardsville. Boy is on the roads. With me strapped to the bumper and reciting prayers, while the hamsters warm up for the run.

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