Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why don't you drive, You are not stupid

No sooner did I talk and I annoyed my mother.
She told the story during the rest of her life.
I would get ready for bed and say: ”Jeannotje downstairs”
She’d reply “UPSTAIRS”
I sternly : “No, Jeannotje downstairs”
This routine was the beginning of my confusion with directions.
Mother wanted a perfect child and this was a bit of a hitch.

Over the years I would try to adjust the right brain and ask people “stupid” questions:
“Does this escalator go up or down?”
Especially difficult in airports when I often see a choice and both are filled with people going so many places.

So later in life people asked :
“why don’t you drive? You’ r not stupid!”
“Well , thank you for thinking that at least I have a brain”.

I did drive. I drove for 4 years in the 1960’s in New Jersey on Highway 1.
Thank you very much. I did it! With babies in the back fighting! I did it!

My ex purchased a 1951 Buick. I had my photo taken by it like a movie star caressing the top of the Buick. I was so proud. Our first car!!!!
“Look, Ma, we have a car”.
A big car it was , a monster, no power brakes or power steering, just brute force
From your hands and feet and the vehicle was like a tank.
X husband taught me how to drive it. Patience he was lacking. Understanding that I was not sure when to turn left or right was not left for him to absorb.
I heard words like “stupid women drivers”…..and more.
I wanted to drive in the worst way.
Driving was equal to freedom.

So I drove, I obtained a license under bad circumstances, waiting in line for hours in the NJ heat I told the guy that I did not feel well.
I had turned over more cones than they had there.
Parallel parking was just not my expertise.
The man said:”I think you are going to faint, here is your license and go home”
The angels sang that day!!!!

So I drove my husband to work ,piled children in the back, wee ones and friends and one day the brakes went out. I was near “2 Guys from Harrison” supermarket to pick up Joe . What to do? I drove around the parking around and around letting go of the pedal and slowly we came to a stop against the wall of the market.
Not a dent in the Buick, children safe, moi wondering what the hell was I doing in a car.
After the Buick came a better choice a Ford Fairlane, think it was a 1954 or 55.
I could manage that better and took us all to Ashbury beach when mother came to visit.  Still I felt uncomfortable every time I stepped in a car. Took of my shoes, I needed to feel the pedal. Drove badly with both feet to the ready to stop. You are not supposed to do that, Jeannot. One day you will hit both at the same time.

When I needed to make a left I would go around the block till I was facing the right street , I just refused to make left turns. Why is that? You ask. Well it takes me minutes at time to figure out where my left is.

Imagine sitting in front of a light and trying to make the sign of the cross before you know which hand is the left. People honk at you , they want you to go to hell for all they care. Make a move, lady, I have things to do. Even in the sixties this did happen.

We moved to San Jose California, yes, we knew the way!
I needed to renew my license. Rumor had it they were very strict.
I still drove but figured that the Californians were all nuts on the streets.
Wild cowboys they were. I would perspire when I delivered my Avon products.
I was with a client when Kennedy got shot, I ran to my car (then a station wagon) and got home in no time. Later I figured out that I had not noticed the red lights and stop signs, I had just plowed through them.

I stopped driving. I did not get a California piece of paper to say I was safe on the road. I started to figure out that one day I would kill somebody, my children, or myself. I was not a driver. Period. Live with it.

Living with it all these decades was somewhat easy as husband numero uno loved driving and we had always some place we loved to see in our new state. We had purchased a 17 foot trailer in N.J. and spent our days in the parks.

Husband numero dos did not tell me when we first met that he could not drive.
He lived in San Fran for years after art school and who needs a car when you can climb these lovely mountain streets in a glorious cable car.
His sister had a Thunderbird with some horses under the hood who liked to run fast. She gave Bob lessons and soon he became my designated driver for all occasions.
He loved it, the girls loved it. After my divorce I was left with a broken down car which ran on 4 whatever. Speed it had not but luck was always with us as the car would break down we were always in front of a garage. The girls would giggle and say that we made it again to the right place.

It was not too many years ago that I found out what was “wrong “ with me.
Nothing. I am right brained and so be it. A form of dyslexia and a host of other things work different for a right brainer and a left brain. My mother was left brain and could never understand that I was not exactly like her.
Even late in life people tell me :”You can do it!! Try it!”
It is not a question if I can do it but the question is can I do it well? The answer is NO. I know I would make a faux turn one day and cause a lot of damage.
Do all the people with dyslexia give up driving ? Of course not but are they safe drivers is a question I would have.

I do not “live” with the anxiety of it , this is me but imagine the nerve I had a couple of years ago to think I could go back to beading and designing jewelry. After all I did it with Bob in the 70’s , I can do it again.
I forgot that having a composition of beads in my head and putting them on the string in the right order is just another matter altogether.
Add to this old age and vertigo.
I have made necklaces OK and even sold them but you have no idea how much sweat and even tears it took to execute them.

Do not ask me why I am not driving, be happy that I don’t. You are safer that way.


Angela said...

Well...whatever...but there is no denying that you are just the best!!!! story teller under the sun...OMG...did I laugh... There is someone like you downstairs at this moment, he failed his test four times and only got his licence because he convinced the examiner that he had not really learned to drive the new car (second hand) Renault four...lovely car, as it was bought just the other day!
We now (and it took years for that to happen) have an understanding that when we go out together...I drive... but...he never muddles up port and starboard...left and right is pure guesswork.We still have two cars, his has a built in guardian angel!!
You are as you are, Jeannot ...and to me you are to read about your life xx

Jeannot said...

Angela, my sweetie pie, I thank you for the compliments.
Imagine for a second, Bob had to get his license renewed, I wanted to get the woman on the side and tell her not to renew it but did not have a chance to be near her. He took the test very well, instructor was well pleased and then the angels came and Bob told the women :Not bad driving for a man with Alzheimer , is it?"
Bingo I had my wish, it was time he was no longer able to do it well.