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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tales of Terror: The MGB Story

Poor people in the north. All that snow.

I don't mind snow, and though I gripe about it, I don't really mind cold either, but I get very cranky when the roads ice over--especially when it's black ice.

When we lived in Chicago, Greg used to practice driving on ice with his MGB. We'd get out in the middle of a giant parking lot on an early Sunday morning and he'd practice correcting for spins and loss of brakes. Fun times.

I kinda miss that old car. We put a lot of miles on that baby--and then I wrecked it. Yup. I admit it. I wrecked his beautifully restored, mint condition MGB.

We had just moved to Texas and realized I needed to learn how to drive because there was no public transportation in the city we lived in, and worse yet, everything was too far to walk. Not like Chicago, where you can hop a bus or simply walk to the neighborhood shopping district.

So I asked Greg to teach me to drive. Worst. Mistake. Ever. Wives, NEVER let your husbands teach you how to drive--especially if all you have is his vintage sports car.

Our marriage survived the driving lessons and soon he was taking me out into the boonies to practice on more complicated terrain. We stopped at a stop sign and being a stick, he warned me to give it a little extra gas when I hit the clutch.

Unfortunately, we were on a gravel road, and I gave it too much gas. I gunned it, scrambling off the gravel and across a ten foot ditch making us instantly airborne. Who says cars can't fly?

When we landed, I plowed through the woods, missing EVERY single tree in this forest. To this day, I don't know how I missed them all. It was like being in a mine field. I just kept turning the wheel until I ran out of trees.

I kept hitting the brakes, but I wasn't slowing down enough. Greg pulled up the emergency brake and pulled the keys out of the ignition.

All this happened in a matter of seconds. It is taking longer to tell you this story than it did to occur--it happened that fast. When we finally stopped, we just sat there stunned. And I started crying!

Not because I was hurt, but because I knew I had murdered his much loved car. Greg noticed the smoke coming from the hood and he jumped out and rushed over to my side to help me out. I remember he kept asking me, "Are you hurt? Are you hurt?"

I kept shaking my head and crying. I KILLED his car. How was I ever going to face him again?

We'd only been married a year and like most newlyweds were still trying to sort each other out. I was absolutely certain that car meant more to him than I did. Let's face it, his idea of a great date was working on that car. What else was I to think?

But he showed me.

He pulled me out of the car and hugged me, so grateful I was okay. He asked me why I was crying and when I told him, he started laughing. "It's just a stupid car. You're the only thing that matters."

Cue: Big sigh. I knew I had a keeper then.

We got our car back from the shop six weeks later, but by this time I discovered AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. Why did no one ever mention this modern miracle before? I loved it and in no time I was giving Greg a run for his money.

As a matter fact, many years later, I was driving his car and one of his friends saw it on the road. He didn't know it was me on the wheel and he teased him and said: "Man, you were hauling the other day. You were going so fast, there was fire streaking from under the tires."

Big mouth!

I was busted.

To this day, I won't speak to that guy. (Kidding, but I do give him the evil eye.)

Who taught you how to drive? Stick or automatic?


Dru said...

That was beautiful and yes I "aaawww" at the appropriate time.

Being in NYC, we really don't need to drive, but for the heck of it and because I needed a government photo ID and because they did not have the non-driver's license ID yet, I took driving lessons and learned on an automatic.

I first drove a car three times and each time someone hit me or I came close to hitting another car. Years later, my friend made me drive a car and I was so petrified. I kept asking him, can I stop drive and finally he drove. That was the last time I was behind the wheel of a car.

If an emergency came and I had to drive, I probably could be it would be slow going.

Marianne Arkins said...

What a guy....

And my mom taught me driving basics on an automatic, but my dad taught me drive a stick (on his classic VW bug -- I loved that car). To this day, I prefer a stick over automatic, but it's getting so you can't find them anymore. :::pouts:::

Maria Zannini said...

Oh Dru, I so hear ya! Had I stayed in Chicago, I probably would have never learned how to drive. It just isn't necessary there.

Someday, I'll tell the story how I raced Greg to the emergency room to save his near severed fingers--all before I earned my drivers license. It's amazing what you can do when you have to.

Maria Zannini said...

Actually, once this incident was behind me, I did go back to a stick with my first Mitsubishi Eclipse. I loved that car.

Moms have got to be better teachers than husbands. Husbands yell too much. LOL!

catie james said...

Greg is totally a keeper!

My dad taught me, both stick and auto; but I ended up totaling the stick (Mom's rag-top VW Bug) several years later. Woops.

Maria Zannini said...

Catie-- Stick woops are not that hard to do. LOL

I've owned both a sports car and an SUV in stick. I thought the sports car was a little more responsive in stick, but I could have done without it in the SUV.

Poor Bugs. They always take a toll. Hope you weren't hurt in the accident.

Heather B. Moore said...

Great story :)

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Heather. Great to hear from you.

catie james said...

Only a minor head injury - you should'a seen the windshield! :-D Cracked from top to bottom. (Oh & I also totaled an innocent parked car that happened to be sitting (really, really) bad).

Maria Zannini said...

Oh my gosh, Catie. That's terrible--I mean about your noggin.

Good thing you have a hard head, eh? ;o)

Shelley Munro said...

We call them manual over here in NZ rather than stick, and when I learned to drive most cars were manual. The car I have now is manual, and it's no big deal. I can drive either. I paid for driving lessons. The couple of times my mother took me out for a driving lesson made it clear to me we'd remain on better terms if we left the driving out of it!

Your Greg sounds like a keeper. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Paying for the lessons might have been far easier in the long run.

You were smarter than I was, Shelley.

Liane Spicer said...

Love this post. Your husband sounds like such a sweetheart.

I watched my father reduce my mother to a quivering mess when he was teaching her to drive, so I took myself off to a drama-free driving school. Learned shift, drove shift for many years and still prefer the feel of total control I get with it.

The day I got my first car I took off for a drive along the north coast. It's a narrow, winding cliff road and I had a great time - but I think that was the day my mother's hair began to go white.

Maria Zannini said...

Liane: Yeah, I don't think husbands should teach wives how to drive. The mindsets are far too alien.

I prefer stick in my sports cars, but I'm fine with automatic on anything else.

Ref:...I think that was the day my mother's hair began to go white.

Poor mom. It's true what they say that kids give their parents white hair and wrinkles.