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Summer Driving Lessons

July 2019

Sure, It’s Eggy . . . The automobile and I have a fairly tortured history. And, in all fairness to myself, it wasn’t a one-way street. Each vehicle in question exasperated me just as much as I exhausted every attempt to find common ground, or road, with it. I did not own a car until I was well into my 20’s and had moved to California from the East. I soon, and alarmingly, discovered that Life in the Golden State without a vehicle is impossible. In a State where a person cannot function without a car, the citizen is hard-pressed to love anything or leave it!

My first car was a used, very used, royal blue Pinto with the KZAP sticker cat that was still on the hatchback window when I sold the junker, after 2 years of torment, for scrap, at a profit. Car #2, The Ex-Car, was a 2-door powder blue Newport Chrysler Coupe. My coworker-engineers used to joke that after I’d driven the boat down J Street in Sacramento, I picked Hondas and Datsuns out of the front grill. My Chrysler could be used as a bridge-section replacement for the Tower Bridge! The frame around the door latch on the driver’s side had rusted, and I was unable to close the door again after opening it. I discovered this non-function malfunction when this door first flew open during one of my commutes down J Street (“She wiped out an entire lane of traffic!”).

Whenever I’d get out of the Chrysler to buy gas, the attendant wanted to know why I didn’t use the driver’s side door. I explained it was easier to use the passenger side. Especially since that door was “wired” shut with a lengthy telephone cord. (Just the picture of that car scares me now!) The “almost-new” 1-year-old Chevy Citation replaced the Ex-Car (which I also sold for scrap for cash). It was morning-in-America, and my answer to the K-Car was a Chevy-four-on-the-floor. I bought it one weekend without knowing how to drive it. My work supervisor was very upset upon hearing that my boyfriend was going to teach me to drive the gleaming white Chevy Citation sedan (with blue interior). He quietly and discreetly told me that he, and everyone else in the section, really wanted this “relationship” to work out for me. Having my adoring boyfriend teach me how to drive a stick-shift was not a good idea. He, my boss, would teach me.

Which was so much more appropriate! So Dear-Husband-To-Be taught me how to drive a stick-shift, without any A/C, within less than a week during the sweltering month of July. I simply took a Stress-Tab before the evening outing and brought along a thermos bottle of water. And We had more than ample opportunities to discover Debra-under-Stress and Ronald-Under-Duress. I shall never forget his patient affirmation: “The clutch is your friend.” I’d first learned to drive at the age of seventeen (which my peers considered a rather late age in NJ) — on an automatic used in the Driver’s Ed training classes during my junior summer of high school. The lessons were hilarious. The instructor, for instance, would say: “Okay, Debra. Turn right.”

I immediately turned left. “Did I not tell you to turn right?” “You might have. I have a hard time telling my left from my right.” The “family” car was a very vintage, very white Dodge Dart of a very unique transmission shifting. The push-button pad to the left was the novelty precursor of the current App craze! Debra tooled the Dart through the Driver’s Ed test with a bracelet on her left wrist as a memory aid. Parallel parking, 3-point-turn — absolutely no problem for me on the driving test. But telling my left from my right was the most frightening part of my Driver’s Test — in New Jersey — where, at the time, driving was so hazardous that a special Driver’s Ed Obstacle Course was constructed behind the State DMV office just for the would-be drivers to take their tests.

Decades later, I was stunned when my son took his California’s Driver’s Test, and he drove out on the PUBLIC roads! In spite of my automobile history, I am a very safe driver. Cautious and efficient, I handle the clutch very well. While Dear Husband used the teal-blue Ford Explorer for carpooling to work, I drove around Suburbia, with my little tykes, in classic trucks. First, there was the 1961 bottle-green Chevy Apache; and then a 1965 dark-green F-100.

Nowadays, however, the Manual Transmission is an endangered mechanical species. My brand-new blue-chip CTS-Caddy of 2005, which is still in excellent condition, has been joined by a newer set of wheels, the 2013 Edge by Ford. I didn’t want to buy an automotive Egg. The Tuxedo Black Edge is less roly-poly than a Weeble-on-Wheels but it is still round-ish. The Edge does not have a lot of edges! This already-vintage vehicle (2013) came into my possession early last December; I am using the excuse of non-stop torrential rain from late November until early June for the reason why I have not fully mastered this vehicle. The highly inclement weather was indeed a deterrent. I have since clambered up into the thing half a dozen times to drive it. The view over the dash, in front of me, onto the road, is almost non-existent. I like to see where I am going, and the nifty view-finder display/touch screen of the expanse to my rear does not endear me to the Edge.

The console is a big hulking mess. Everything is programmed for me, but I don’t know how to use it. The people encapsulated inside of this automotive orb are insulated: No harm will come to anyone! My biggest objection, however, to this vehicle is the overall shape. It is neither car nor truck (which is now a 4-door bus). In fact, the Edge is one of those cross-overs. I dislike in-betweens of any kind, so I am still trying to categorize this vehicle even as I drive it, and as I drive it, I feel all caged and hemmed in. When Dear Husband drives the Edge, he works the enormous console as if he is playing a video game — and winning! I know where the AC and heater are, as well as the hot-seat function. Yes, if you have a chill, your buns get warmed!

I looked online today at the Cadillac XT5 Crossover. The advertising pitch is: Makes Safety Look Stylish. No: Safety has never looked stylish. Remember the Volvo? Sure it’s boxy. But it’s safe. Here is your crossover. Sure it’s eggy — but it’s impenetrable. Somehow, somewhere, I hear the CT5 calling me. This sedan is mythical, since it is not yet created! Already, I feel at one with it. Supposedly, the design is designed to STIMULATE YOUR SENSES. As opposed to programming them.

And — It’s unrivaled! A work of Art that I can also drive! Spirited, this luxury sedan will make my heart race even when I am not driving it.

But there is no App to monitor that function! This Caddy just might be my Dream Car, once it appears, after my Dream House! I already have a name for it: ma petite bête.

20 July 2020 Update The BIG Bend My love affair with the CT5 Little Beast, ma petite bête, may be over. The spirited luxury sedan, the work of art that I can also drive, unrivaled as it may be, has found a rival: The New Ford Bronco! I — and millions of other Americans — have only waited about 4 years for the sight of this classic driving machine. Now there is no longer the need for spy-pix and spy reports. The 2021 Ford Bronco has emerged from the factory. The price tag does not give sticker shock! I am liking the look of the Big Bend, but the Black Diamond also thrills and delights my adventurous soul. Let’s hope the road reviews live up to the pre-drive excitement!

23 July 2020 Update to the Update Dear Husband informed me last night that the Limited Run of the Bronco First Edition (which does not interest me) is all sold-out for 2021. That version is the only Bronco that the Ford factories will be producing during that year, at a much higher price than the thing might be worth. The production of this Bronco was DOUBLED, and it still sold out! Then Ford announced another allotment, and that quantity sold out. Reservations Only became STO merely to order the long-awaited vehicle. And the $100 deposit is almost too reasonable. There are, according to Bronco Blogs and Forums, galloping all over the ether-sphere, orders for all the other models as well. The numerical breakdowns list the myriad types of Bronco lust with the type of intimate details that only a man can enjoy! The Legend returns with a blockbuster bang! Investors are lining up late, but that’s par for their course.

The glitches and recalls — standard features of any 1st-year-straight-from-the-factory vehicle will be worked out in time for my 2022 Bronco Big Bend or Black Diamond. I hope the color choices stay the same. I really like the Antimatter Blue; it appeals to both the artist and the contrarian in me!

On the Ford Bronco website, the Explore the Bronco Family tab has been replaced by GET UPDATES, just before you scroll down to Meet the Broncos. They change hourly! The interior of my choice is most telling of the action in the Ford plant: Rollin’, rollin’ rollin’ . . . keep them wheels a rollin’ . . . Rawhide! We’ve yet to even hold the steering-wheel reins of these equine creations — or see one on the hoof. It is obvious, however, that Ford has found the niche for the new decade, and sales text that makes sense: At its core, a wild spirit takes root, raring to take you outdoors, off-road, and to places you've never gone before. I can tell you, from this point on, the Legend is just beginning! To continue with further events in the Bronco Saga, as the legend continues, please see: The Big Bend and Canned Cactus Gray


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