Cars may come and go, but it’s nice to know there are some things about motoring that never change.
driven to distraction
The MOTH (The Man of the House) opened the door of our new car and stood back while I climbed in. We inhaled the delicious new car smell and watched the steering wheel move silently into place and the wing mirrors open out.
I thought back to all the cars that went before.
There was the HD Holden. It saw service as a tank in World War II. Then a snappy little Fiat that turned on a ve-cent piece but the pivot windows fell out on the highway in the heat. Along came a Ford Fairlane and a Holden Monaro. The back seat held 12 people. A full tank cost a week’s wages.
There was a brief, glorious affair with an elderly Jaguar. It took three minutes to drift majestically around a corner and parking was impossible but I felt like the Queen when we pulled into Woolies.
Then we had ve children and a dog. We needed a “people mover”.
The Toyota Tarago had lots of room and a small fridge. We could never
nd the engine.
Next came a Nissan Patrol. We jammed two children, the dog, food, beach toys and suitcases in and around the back row. In the middle row were the two “big” girls and the baby. The children in the last row were unreachable. I made threats. The MOTH wore earplugs.
We had other cars over the years. The MOTH fancied BMWs and I owned a Daihatsu Charade.
The difference wasn’t lost on me.
My last car was a red Peugeot. Everyone should have a French car in his or her life but only once. Ruff Red’s surfboard was wedged on an angle across the seat backs. I drove with the pointy end in my left ear.
There were dents and scratches on the outside and empty bottles and cans rolled around on the oor inside. I wrote “NEVER BRAKE SUDDENLY!” on the dashboard in big red letters.
The MOTH interrupted my drive down memory lane.
“Meet Alice,” he said proudly.
“Now you can stop telling me how to drive. Alice is in charge.”
Alice is our new car’s warning voice. “There will be no holding your breath when I pass a semi-trailer. No slamming your foot on an imaginary brake pedal! Alice will take care of everything. She’s programmed to point out bottle shops and parking spaces, too!”
“I taught ve teenagers to drive!” I reminded him.
“I know. They still talk about it and not in a good way!”
I admit Alice doesn’t gasp when a B-Double hurtles by or grab the MOTH’s arm to point out old men and little dogs on crosswalks the way I did. But, three weeks in, I notice he gets irritable when he hears the “ding dong” that announces Alice is about to speak.
“Caution – school zone.”
“Caution – red light camera.”
“Caution – Speed camera.”
‘I KNOW, Alice!’
“Caution – red light camera, speed camera AND high accident zone ahead.”
“SHUT UP, ALICE!”
It reminds me of the old days hurtling up the Paci c Highway with the kids on board.
“You can each have a lolly but only if you stop ghting!”