I can truly only imagine what The Mom and Her Fella were like in that car, but if it’s anything like what The Mom and I are like then they ought to have been pulled over.
The Mom and I are alright in the car as long as it’s daylight. At a push we can do dusk or dawn, but the darkness of night has always proved tricky. This is because we are both nearly blind as bats at night. Well, maybe not blind, but certainly suspect. As in, Crazy D and L’il Sis are constantly threatening to take the keys away from us when we seem to be fixing to do something stupid, like drive ourselves to the pictures after dark in the winter.
And it’s not so much that we can’t see, it’s more that the world goes a bit 2D in the dark for us, which is only a problem when you’re trying to do something a bit fiddly in the car, like make a left turn into The Mom’s neighbourhood when we’re not entirely certain how far away that car is that’s hurtling towards us.
A typical evening out, after dark, for The Mom and I goes something like this:
We’ll be shuffling around the house in our PJs (because why get dressed until you’re dead certain you’ll be leaving the house?). Cabin fever will have set in. The snows will be whipping themselves into a fernzy outside.
The Mom will look up from her newspaper, sigh, and then brightening, pipe up: “Do you want to go to the movies?”
“YES,” I will respond without further enquiry. Because frankly, I don’t really care what we see as long as it’s in colour and moves.
“I was thinking about this movie with …”
“Let me stop you right there, Skippy,” I’ll say, standing up and removing my bathrobe. “I’m in. We’re going out.”
The Mom will look at me with all the excitement of a child a few days before Christmas. “Really?”
“Put your pants on!”
And with that, we’ll scurry upstairs, switch into our Going Out Pants, and be at the back door in under ten minutes. Well, it’ll only take me about three minutes, but The Mom likes to make a good impression. It’s a waste of time reminding her that nobody else in her town dresses up to go out – she holds herself to a higher standard.
We stand at the back door, and The Mom will offer me the car keys.
“You’re driving,” she’ll say.
“Really?” I’ll reply, somewhat discouraged.
“It’s past Wine O’Clock. I can’t be driving in this condition. And you’re nearer to sober than I am.”
Glowering, I’ll take the keys from her hand and march out to the car. “Fine, but I’m choosing the music.”
Getting there isn’t usually a big problem because we go to the early show, so there’s usually a whiff of daylight shepherding us to the cinema. The real problems arise when we try to get home.
Giddy from having been out, on our own, and knowing that if L’il Sis or Crazy D had any idea we’d gone out in the car after dark that they’d be furious, we’re near hysterics – high on the idea that we’re getting away with something. We’ll trundle ourselves back into the car.
I’ll turn the engine on, and the lights, and grip the steering wheel with confidence before asking, “Right, now, how do we get home from here?”
“Just go out by Fischer-Hallman Rd., then turn right, and head down Westmount Rd.”
I’ll whip my head around and say: “No idea what you’re talking about.”
“You have lived here almost all your life and still, still, you don’t know what the roads are called?”
Much eye-rolling ensues.
“Go out past the supermarket, and then turn right by Danny’s old house.”
“Danny’s old house when he had the dog, or the place they got after the dog?”
“When they had the dog,” The Mom will say.
“Oh fine,” I’ll say.
We’ll carry on for a bit, slowly making our way out of the parking lot. The problems will start once I’m faced with on-coming traffic. Mostly it’s the headlights. L’il Sis offered to get me glasses with some kind of glare-reducing coating on them, for just such a moment, but since I only drive when I’m home I decided against them. Which means that I get a lot of glare on the lenses when I drive. This means that I tend to drive with only the one eye open.
We’ll carry on, winding each other up, so that by the time we hit the darkest stretch of road, the bit that’s still got a strong whiff of the countryside about it, we’re laughing hysterically and shouting ridiculously at one another.
And because this stretch of road has no streetlights, I’m forced to open both eyes, squint, grip the steering wheel and lean as far forward as possible.
“Hey, Skippy, what’s that up there?” I’ll say, pointing and squinting int the distance.
The Mom will also squint and lean forward. “That’s the Y. Don’t hit it.”
“It’s a massive big fuck off building, how can I hit that?”
“Don’t sell yourself short, dear, your driving skills in this regard are impeccable.”
By the time we reach the turn off for her suburb, tears are rolling from our eyes.
“How far away do you think that car is?” I’ll ask, as we wait to make a left.
“I don’t know…” The Mom will hesitate.
“S’fine,” I’ll say as I hit the gas and we screech into the suburb. More often than not, this is quickly followed by the honking of another driver’s horn.
“What’s that?” I’ll shout, whipping my head around.
“Eyes front!” The Mom will cry.
“Terrible drivers on these roads,” I’ll say.
The Mom will give me a look and we’ll burst into laughter, sheepishly returning the car to the garage, thankful that we’ve not hit anyone or anything, and that L’il Sis and Crazy D remain unaware of our driving adventures.