the danish outpost
updated when time and inspiration allow. latest and greatest always in the blog.
a paean to Penny

01.02.2002

feeling kinda how a girl feels

have i mentioned lately that i love Penny, my car? well, i do. lots.

this is a relatively new breakthrough for me. when i bought the car, which you may remember was by accident, i didn't know how to drive a stick shift (standard, or manual, depending on what part of the world you're from). looking at it from a purely investment point of view, it still made sense, because if i gave up on learning how to drive her, i could sell her for easily twice what i'd paid. this, however, was not likely to happen.

as you may know, i tend to rise to the challenge. i hate losing, almost as much as i like winning. and yes, i did view all of this as a win-loss venture.

so. so i set myself the challenge of learning how to master a standard. and with the help of a few friends, one in particular, i've been rather successful.

i've ground a few gears, stalled out a bunch, done at least one violently illegal thing (at least, we think so - the intersection was phenomenally poorly marked, which should come as exactly no surprise to anyone from Around Here), and ended up having a few panic attacks. i've also figured out how to start on a hill without rolling back *at all*, how to use all the gadgets in my car without looking down (as looking down often results in an unplanned swerve), how to avoid pedestrians who insist on flinging themselves in front of my bumper, and mastered the parking garage. the last is the most recent conquest, one of which i'm quite proud. there's something about small spaces with lots of concrete and other immovable objects that's apt to strike terror in the heart of the novice driver.

yes, you read that right - the novice driver. and not just on a standard, but pretty generally. see, when i got my permit, i took Driver's Ed. and it went fairly okay. then i tried to learn the cars available to me. this entailed lessons with my parents.

the lesson with dad... i think there was only ever one lesson, altho there might have been a few. i did well. but there's nothing like putting two control freaks in the same car - one of whom is nervous and afraid of disappointing her dad, the other of whom has high expectations and about as much patience as i do. not to mention - i was driving his car. so that ended rather quickly.

then there was a lesson with mom. and yes, there was only one. i drove around our neighborhood - two dead end streets that did a highly mangled figure eight with an extra loop or two thrown in for good measure. it was summer, and i had the window down. as i came back around to the house after the lesson, bro rode up next to the car on his bike and yelped at me. i freaked out, big time. what scared me most was that i hadn't seen him coming, and i was terrified that i was about to hit him. didn't happen, of course. but it was enough to freak me out to the point where i gave up, which means it was a huge amount of panic.

so i never did learn to drive until about 6 or 7 years ago. in fact, the only reason i even have my license is by the grace of a state cop i once knew. i didn't really need to drive growing up, as i could get nearly everywhere i needed to by bike. and, hey, i had friends for the rest. when i got to college, cars still seemed superfluous, not to mention prohibitively expensive at a point in your life when you wonder if you can afford Top Ramen for dinner. and then i moved to the Hub. public transport is a wonderful thing. and i've lived within walking distance of my job nearly the whole time.

there was a brief interlude, when i was still married to Fritz, when we had a car i could drive. i still miss that car. Mazda Proteg¸, with a sunroof. loved that car. then Fritz wrapped it around a tree, took the insurance money, and bought himself a new car. probably used some of the money for the downpayment on his house, too. yes, i'm still bitter about that one.

that was a number of years ago. haven't had a car since then. then my best friend's mom convinced me to buy one. yee ha. how is it that i did this by accident? or more accurately, on a whim?

since then, Penny has earned a name, and my undying affection for having one of the most forgiving clutches i've met. she also has a few bumper stickers, largely for my fave local bands. on the dashboard are a small beige cat who peeks over the well, and the Happy Monk, blissed out with espresso and a cell phone. he chants if you squeeze him. living on the shelf by the back window is a small chocolate brown stuffed dog, which i bought on a tipsy whim. and wrapped around the peg for the ... what the hell do you *call* that little flippy thing you put down to keep the sun out of your eyes? (i'm writing this at 5ish in the morning, so forgive my lack of vocabulary) anyway, around the peg for that thing is a small silver Celtic cross with a purple stone. that is there to protect me from garnering any more dings than absolutely necessary in the process of learning the car. i know she'll earn a few; she already has.

here's the best part: i like driving. i go out sometimes just to tool around town, because *I Can*. and that's a great sensation.

yesterday :: tomorrow

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