Driving Stick.

Today I drove E to the airport to spend Christmas with his parents in Regina, where it was a mere -24 degrees today. Why he has gone without me to watch his back is a long and complicated story, but not the one I am here to tell.

I drove him in his 1976 Volvo, the beast with standard transmission and Armstrong steering. Except for a six-block trial run about a month ago, I have not driven standard for over five years.

In my head, he was going to drive to the airport and then I would manage to get the car home with minimal embarrassment in the lurching-and-lugging department. In reality, I got into the driver’s seat and failed to start the car. “Oh, it starts better in neutral,” he said. What?

Then I scared him to death with my driving. I revved too high, and I didn’t push the clutch in far enough a couple of times (Swedes must all be tall. I can’t push the clutch in enough without pointing my toe!). He had his teeth on edge the whole way to the airport. Which is kind of funny, because I felt I was doing fine.

At one point he was saying something about the revs. I snapped, “That’s just numbers to me. Do you mean you want me to keep the tach between 2500 and 3000? Because I’m doing this by sound and feel.” It was mean and hypocritical, but I was busy letting my body remember how to drive stick.

You know what? All those reflexive hand-and-foot twitchings over the past five years driving the Co-op’s automatic cars? Turns out I can still drive stick. The body doesn’t forget. Let’s just hope E forgets his terror at me driving his car.

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