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Designated driver

February 8th, 2004 · 1 Comment

That’s me. Since Ted scratched his eyeball, he’s had to wear his glasses. He looks cute in them, but they hurt his nose and it’s not ideal for driving.

So I’ve become the official chaffeur this weekend. Usually if we go somewhere as a family, Ted will be the one to drive. Our relationship began that way. Ted had a car, and I didn’t. Or rather Ted had a license and I didn’t. He’s usually driving and I’m the one reading the map or, as happens, now, trying to take care of the kids and controls.

Ted drives because he always has. He has more experience too. Our age difference plus the fact I got my license late gave him ten years more behind the wheel than I had.

He drives because my driving can make him ill. If he’s tired, he can start to get car sick if he’s not focussed on the road. Anyone else driving – not just me – can do this to him too.

And Ted drives because I am a Bad Driver. Well I don’t think I’m Terrible. I hope not. But driving isn’t something that was easy for me to learn. I had to take Drivers Ed twice. To pass it. The numbers and rules I could memorize easily. I just didn’t have that same ease while driving around in the school car. I didn’t get much practice at home. And I was an anxious kid. Spatial relations has never been my strength. I’m sure I’ve caused a few drivers out there to curse. I imagine I’m responsible for a few more four letter words being added to the atmosphere.

Ted was the one who finally taught me how to drive well enough to pass the test. I had taken Drivers Ed in high school and done a little practice with my mom. But I never was able to get a license. Ted was patient enough to help me learn, get over my anxiety and show me how to do all those test tricks like parallel parking and backing around a corner twelve inches from the curb. I wouldn’t say though that he is responsible for me being a Bad Driver, if I am indeed one.

However, I wouldn’t blame my husband if he didn’t trust me as a driver. He’s seen me at my worst in a car and I feel especially awkward now driving a larger vehicle, the van we’ve had for a few months. I got used to driving our compact but this bigger boat with its dinosaur dimensions and turning radius has affected my confidence. I am feeling a bit more nervous again as a driver. Sometimes he helps me in a tight parking spot – I often ask him for his advice – or sometimes he reminds me a bit what to do.

But sometimes I tell him what to do. I’m the one at times shrieking out “Ted” if I feel I need to warn him or express concern when we’re driving down the road. And like an instructor, sometimes I hit the floor with my foot, if I want him to brake – only I don’t have a pedal on my side.

We’re not often in the car together, only on weekends or an evening if we have social plans or shopping. We also don’t do many long road trips. When we’re tired or feeling anxious we can give each other a little stress while driving together. Since I’m used to steering the wheel myself during the week, I can get too excited or anxious if I’m not driving, bothering my husband with my blurting, while Ted has had his moments getting concerned about what kind of manuever I am attempting to do with the van.

So it was with a little trepidation that I became Designated Driver this weekend. But I think it worked out well. Last night we were invited to a friend’s home for dinner, and the fact that I was driving allowed Ted to enjoy some wine (ha!). I might have had some if I was a passenger, but I passed instead.

Today we had plans to drive two hours round trip to see other friends. I had joked with Ted about how he would react when I was driving:
“I’ll just close my eyes and nap.” he said.
“That’s what I do too.” I replied. I do try to close my eyes when he is driving!

Despite the fact that I woke late and had forgotten to fill the gas tank, I think our trip today happened without too many hitches. For us as a family, this was a long adventure, the kids getting restless in the backseat.

But on the way there, Ted leaned back in his seat and napped, true to his words.
On the way home, after lunch, the whole family slept (except me).
From time to time I’d take my eyes off the road to steal a glance at Ted, reclined in the passenger seat beside me, eyes closed, resting. Like some kind of Sleeping Prince waiting for a kiss. That would be Bad Driving indeed to try to engage in affection while on the freeway. So I just watched him and wondered how he was doing. Whether his eye hurt. I liked feeling I was caring for him by driving the car. Ted slept nearly the whole way home.

I think he trusts me.

Tags: marriage

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Anita Rowland // Feb 10, 2004 at 8:25 am

    If Ted was sleeping, who was wrangling the kids and controls as you said you would be as a passenger?