Posted by Bill (not IB) | Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the family car, along with the rest of the family – Dad, Mom, and older brother “Chip”. Whenever there was somewhere to go, it was by car – be it the shopping plaza, my grandparent’s home (about an hour away by back roads), or from upstate New York to vacation in lovely Duluth, Minnesota.
We had a version of the “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” which you may recall from National Lampoon’s “Vacation”. Ours was a 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Wagon, with plastic seat covers in the rear seat, for the protection of the upholstery and the year-round discomfort of children’s backsides. Of course, Dad always drove, Chip and I were in the rear seat, and Mom was in the “co-pilot’s” position.
But Mom never did really “co-pilot.” Despite the fact that Chip and I were the ones actually sitting on the plastic seat covers, my Mom was quite the back seat driver.
She had a particular specialty of asking Dad questions that were impossible to answer. For example, we might be cruising through the “center” of a small town – where the business district of Main Street was perhaps a mile or so long. She’d say, “Vince, where is the store that had the sale on hats the last time we drove through?” Almost without fail, we would have already passed that store, and so Dad would say “It’s behind us, Mildred.” And here’s where the real skill in driver annoyance came into play: Mom would say, “Where? Point it out to me.” Which, of course, Dad couldn’t do – not without turning around and ceasing to watch the road, and taking his hands off the steering wheel.
This inevitably ended in Mom accusing Dad of not being quick enough to point things out, and Dad (whose wisdom over the years in dealing with Mom has been a source of inspiration to me) just continued driving, while clutching the steering wheel with a death grip and saying “Yes, dear.”
In the course of many years, this kind of thing never changed. My Dad always drove the car, and my Mom always drove my Dad nuts. Once or twice I asked about “Why doesn’t Mom drive some of the time?” I figured that turnabout is fair play; put Dad in the right-hand seat and he could have some long overdue fun at my Mom’s expense. There must have been some REALLY good reason Dad wouldn’t ride in the car with my Mom behind the wheel. (There was – as I’ve come to learn in adulthood, she’s an atrocious driver. Our teenage daughter was terrorized whenever Grandma wanted to drive her someplace.)
But that never happened. Dad was always the driver.
So, where am I going with this?
It was all brought back to mind when I saw this article about how one husband dealt with his wife taking the wheel of the family car:
“A Saudi man has reportedly divorced his wife after she sent him a video clip of her driving a car in a public place in the kingdom.
Local news website Sabq reported that the wife sent him the clip on Whatsapp, expecting to surprise her husband.
However, according to the website, the man argued that his wife had broken the law and the social traditions and norms. The husband told a judge that he asked his wife to go and stay with her family until the divorce papers are processed.
Saudi Arabia has a de-facto ban on women driving, which the country’s Grand Mufti has described as a way to protect the society from “evil.”
The issue of women driving has been a tense debate in the kingdom for years, but last year it gained international media attention. The decision to cancel the campaign was taken after a wave of uproar from ultra-conservative scholars and following an interior ministry warning.
I don’t think that Dad would have divorced Mom just because of her driving, but I suspect that during some of those long summer road trips (without air conditioning, of course) he may have given thought to divorce on the grounds of “excessive mental and emotional cruelty.”
The real punch-line is that Mom wrecked our “family truckster” one morning as she was driving myself and three other 5th-graders to school as part of a neighborhood car pool. She failed to pay proper attention at a 4-way intersection, and T-boned another car. For quite a while after that, she was a lot quieter in the car with Dad.
And, in spite of it all – this year, God willing, my parents will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary.