By now you’re accustomed to the theme of our mixed marriage. To recap, he hates musicals and horror and awesome things like that, but can drone on about science fiction and refuse to go fishing with me. I suck at first person shooters and he cannot stealth in any game, ever. (Seriously, that practically qualifies as a disability.)
So I think it’s time to circle back to The List, don’t you?
Of our long-standing arguments – the one most likely to kill us – is the one we have almost exclusively in the car, over our respective driving styles.
In the interest of fairness, we will begin with me. Also, I like to go first.
Our first date was a road trip, so he learned early on what he was getting himself into: we drove up from Colorado to Maine for a reunion and I showed him how to cheat the governor on his Saturn (set for 100 mph, which was really cramping my style). I’ve got a lead foot and excellent reflexes, which is either a terrible combination that will kill us all (as he tells it,) or a fortuitous combination and a real time-saver (ONE speeding ticket. Ever.) But, I will admit, while “that time I raced a train” makes for a great story… it was maybe a little scary for some viewers, at the time.
My husband is one of those people who sets the cruise control for just under the speed limit and then lets the whole world pass him by. Nevermind that he’s the one who stresses when we’re late, he’ll just complain that “we should have left earlier” – what? I don’t even… what? – and blame me when we’re late even though he was the one driving like the car was made of kittens. I have personally witnessed him waving people through at a four-way stop even when they were willing to let him go first (again, so confusing) and he actually slows down when the light turns yellow. He has never gotten even one speeding ticket, and I can’t even complain that he’ll get pulled over for driving too slow because he’s only just under the speed limit.
Now, I can already hear some of you deciding that this is a story of a reckless driver who married a cautious one, so let’s go to the scoreboard, shall we?
I have been in exactly one accident – that was not my fault and occurred at an estimated speed of eight mph on my part (the other car was going much faster when it took off my entire front bumper) – while he has been hit by three different semi trucks and rear-ended by two cars. Yeah. (The three semis hit the same car. It took us way too long to get rid of that thing.) So. Clearly I’m not an actual road hazard, as he accuses loudly from the passenger seat.
I used to think these differences would tear us apart, while we were still dating. Seriously, anyone will tell you that arguing in the car is Not Good. Then, one day, Husband-Who-Was-Called-Boyfriend came home to me and said, “I just rode in the car with your father… did he teach you to drive?”
No, I explained, my father has a disturbing tendency to forget which side of the road is legally his, has rolled more cars than I can actually recall at the moment, and almost never drives sober. Frankly, I quit riding with him as soon as I started making friends who could drive. Why? “You’re a much safer version of him,” Not-Yet-Husband proclaimed, “and I promise to try really hard to remember how much worse it could be next time I’m tempted to complain.”
Nice, right? Of course, that still left me with my complaints about him driving like pandas fuck (I am a naturally impatient person, as it turns out) until we went to visit his parents. Specifically, the night we went out to dinner with his father behind the wheel.
I don’t think that man has ever driven 50 mph in his life.* We got passed by a stray cat at one point. A trip that I’d mapped out on Google (which assumes that you’ll stick to the speed limit) took over twice as long. I spent that long, long drive looking into my not-yet-husband’s eyes and silently vowing that I would never again** complain about his driving.
We’d reached a new level of understanding: I may drive like my father, but he drives like his.
HIM: (glancing at the speedometer) Might wanna slow down over there.
ME: Um, first of all, if you know so much you should be driving.
HIM: I’m tired!
ME: Secondly, I’ve shaved an hour off our drive time. So….
HIM: … Please stop?
ME: You’re welcome.
HIM: Okay, yes, but pull over and let me drive.
ME: Whatever. My hands are tingling anyway.***
* Not true, I am reminded. He did once, just barely. On the motherfucking Autobahn. He could have killed someone.
** Some exclusions apply.
*** This is a side-effect of my migraine preventative, not anything to do with my driving. Which is excellent, by the way. I mean, an hour saved! Let’s see some respect, huh?