My first time behind the wheel was in a cute two-door blue
hatchback with white stripes zipping down each side. It had been handed down
from one soon-to-be sister-in-law to another. Joe, their youngest brother,
borrowed it to take me home after our date.
“Is it okay if I stop and get gas?” Joe’s profile as he talked
to the windshield, confident and comfortably in controlling of the Gremlin, made
my armpits tingle.
“Sure,” I said.
Such a gentleman to ask. The walk or bus ride would’ve taken
longer, so we had plenty of time before I had to be home.
“My sister was nice enough to let me use her car, I can at
least put gas in it.” So thoughtful.
Joe drove when someone lent him their car. I wondered how he
could be so adept at operating different ones. He pulled up to a pump.
Before getting out to go to the cashier booth to pay for the
self-serve gas, he asked, “Um, would you mind keeping your foot on the brake?
It’ll stall if I take it out of drive.”
The guys behind a glass wall of the connecting car wash watched
us two skinny teens.
“But I don’t drive,” I whined, like a useless
“If it stalls, it might not start up again. All you have to
do is keep your foot on the brake while I pay the guy inside and pump the gas.”
“I don’t feel comfortable doing that.” Actually, I was super
scared, especially with those car wash men smiling at me.
He leaned towards me. His hushed words cleared reality from
my senses, enticing me to focus only on his face. ”Don’t worry, nothing’ll
happen." Shaded pilot glasses and wispy brown hair accented sharp, sexy features.
But my body shook as I rounded the car to the driver’s side.
Joe stood outside with his foot inside, on the brake. When I was in the
driver’s seat, my foot replaced his, and he closed the door. He went to step
away from the open car window. “What if something goes wrong?” I didn’t want him to
“It’ll be alright. Just keep your foot on the pedal.”
He was still next to the car when I had the sensation of
starting forward on a carnival ride.
Shocked at the car’s movement, I pulled my foot off the
brake. The ride accelerated. Mixed up about which pedal was the brake, I
stepped on the gas. Joe’s waving figure shot backwards out of my peripheral
view through the window.
I was driving for the first time, heading for the car wash.
The red faces of laughter on the guys’ inside drained as they scrambled to back
away from the glass wall of live 3DTV coming at them in the form of a blue and
Common sense hit me before I hit the glass; I braked.
Joe caught up with me. In relief, I returned to the
passenger’s seat. He backed up to the pump again. He still planned on getting
that gas for his sister.
“I had my foot on that one but it didn’t work,” I almost
cried, when Joe gave me the same instructions as before.
“You have to press down hard.” He was getting out again.
I grabbed him. “No. I don’t want to.”
“I won’t be long, just remember it’s the middle one.”
Why trust me after almost killing him and others? Those men now
gaped at me again through the clear wall at a possible Groundhog’s Day
I pressed down so hard on that pedal, I feared wearing it
Joe later told me that when he made it to the booth to pay
for the gas, he said to the teller, “Ten dollars for the Gremlin with a mind of
He wasn’t angry, frustrated or embarrassed by his ditzy
girlfriend. Entertained? Not scared, that’s for sure. He was ready for the ride
of our lives down the aisle.
I can't inhale enough oxygen when I'm not reading. Maybe some day I'll breath stories. But for now I write full-time from my home in southern New Jersey, taking in written words and exhaling them from my subconscious to juggle until they fall into a story. Always looking for kindred spirits in artistic endeavors.