Driving with Dad

My mother has been a good sport this week. Now it’s Dad’s turn.

My father, during my growing up years, was rarely provoked to anger. Provoked to exasperation frequently, but rarely actually angry. When he was aggravated, the most that usually happened was that he tautly pressed his lips together in a straight line and he inhaled deeply before speaking. And, if I had ever heard him say a curse word before I was fifteen, I cannot honestly remember it.

But, when I was 15 and learning to drive, Dad’s patience ran out. He took me to flute lesson and after I begged, he let me drive home in our suave marigold colored Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The route home took us along a winding two- lane road divided by a solid double-yellow line. Along the way a mixture of light commercial businesses and residential driveways dotted the landscape. And, critically, there was no shoulder. The roadway was elevated somewhat above the homes and businesses that turned off it, so dropping off the right-hand side of the road would be seriously ill-advised.

I hugged the steering wheel as I peered ahead for oncoming traffic, dutifully watching out to avoid cars. My fear of the double yellow center line and oncoming traffic was greater than my fear of the right white line. Not so for my father. The silence was abruptly broken by Dad slamming the dashboard with his open palm as he yelled “DAMN-IT, SUZY. GET OVER!” **

My fear of the white line was instantly cured. I now had a choice, fear the center line or fear Dad. I chose Dad since I had to go home with him.

(**Dad recalls his exclamation as being “DAMN-IT, SUZY.  GET OUT OF THE DITCH!”)

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