Cars Do lunges, too

Anna Fielding

"Road Trip"

Lauryn Ginter

I sit in the car gripping a rugged steering wheel. Back braced, jaw clenched, butt on the edge of my seat, my sharp eyes stare ahead; it’s showtime. This time the manual transmission will not leave me in tears. This time I will be the one who wins. The likes of Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., even Michele Mouton have nothing on my driving. My fingers hit a button, my ears perk up to the rumble of the garage door opening, and light shatters the darkness. One clenched hand moves from steering wheel to key. As my hand turns, the car rumbles alive. This’ll be a breeze.

 

Then there’s a problem. I turn to my mom, riding shotgun. My faulty sense of confidence runs out alongside my stuttered question: “How do you make this thing move?” From her mouth spouts an endless list of directions; it would have been faster to just read the owner’s manual. By the time she’s done, I’m sure she’s said something useful, but I was done paying attention when she got to the gearshift, so I just give her an “okay” and say a prayer.

 

As I let the clutch out and push the gas in, the car begins to move. Hey, maybe this really won’t be so bad, I think to myself. Then suddenly, the car sprints backward, and I let out a shriek as I struggle to remember how to stop this accelerating piece of metal. My daring, shotgun riding passenger quickly reminds me that if I want to stop, I’ll have to take my foot off the gas. Smiling sheepishly, I do so and the car begins to become less of a danger to anyone within a mile radius. On the plus side, the car isn’t dead yet and I haven’t cried; so really, it’s looking like I’ll be successful.

 

I begin my first attempt of shifting into first gear to go down my driveway. Doing my best to slowly, gently ease my foot off the clutch and push in the gas. Thinking I’ve hit that sweet spot, I remove my clutch-controlling foot. The car lunges forward and then dies. So, I try again and oddly enough, successfully make it down my driveway. There is now only one thing in the way of my position and the road: the little hill. I’ve been warned that hills are more difficult, but it can’t be that hard. Well, after I successfully spin out in well-compacted gravel and start to roll back, I discover it actually is that hard. After a lot of effort, stalling the car, frustration, a laughing passenger, and diagnosing the car with pneumonia, I’ve made it onto the road. As I begin to drive the straightaway the car and I work in tandem; I practice shifting gears and the car does lunges.

 

At the end of the road is a stop sign. Following the directions of my still giggly passenger I successfully slow down and come to a stop. After checking for oncoming traffic, I attempt to get the car rolling again in an effort to turn the corner, and the car dies. So, I try again. Dead.

 

And again. Dead.

 

Again. Dead.

 

In frustration, my head meets the cold, hard middle of the steering wheel and I wail out in anguish. I look out my window at just the right time to see my neighbor, who also happens to be my band director, on his lawnmower. He stares at me with a look of concern. The best I can do is fake a smile that’s more like a grimace and give a friendly wave. My once supportive mom is now in tears, but not the same kind I’m nearly in; her tears are tears of laughter. After a few more tries at moving and killing the car instead, I make it around the corner. I’ve had it, I’m done. I start to turn around, nearly driving into a ditch while I’m at it, and I drive home. Though I make some killer stops along the way, at least with each stop I’m one lunge closer to my destination.

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