It was our first date.
I met Charles at church and that day, as we shared a hymnal, he asked me to the movies on Friday. I had known him for two years, so I accepted.
I was so excited getting ready! I had to look just right. [Wanted to make a good impression.] I thought the success or failure of this date would depend on making all the right decisions in my attire. How little did I know what this night held for the two of us. It became the night that I would learn that I don’t handle crisis very well. [What an understatement!!!] Actually I was about to learn that in a crisis I tend to panic and do the exact opposite of what a sane person would do in my shoes. Isn’t it funny that a person never learns this about themselves until they are IN THE CRISIS!!!
I have no idea what the movie was about. Everything pales except the last 30 minutes of our date. He had just bought a new car. Guys are soooooo into their wheels! After the movie he wanted to give me a driving lesson. He insisted. He trusted me with his precious white chariot. [Actually if was a Nash, but it was new.] He selected an abandoned road, for my first (and last) lesson. No traffic. What could go wrong?
Hint: Never ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
It was a straight stick. (And for those under 30, a straight stick means you have to change gears while simultaneously pressing on the clutch peddle jusssssttt the right amount.) It was tricky. He showed me how to change gears and what the three (count ‘em, 3) petals on the floor were for. That’s the part I should have listened to more closely. Well, hind sight always being 20/20 doesn’t aid one with foresight.
Things were fine UNTIL I realized we were running out of road. I had missed the lesson of turning and braking. He hollered “Right!!!” but I panicked. I turned left. Unfortunately, left was the Dolcito Cement Company and they had a chain link fence around their property and the gate was locked.
I heard a distant, but hysterical voice crying out, “Brake!!!!, Brake!!!!” I was trying but the harder I mashed the faster the car went. Go figure.
Here’s a good lesson to learn. The pressure must be applied to the BRAKE petal or it doesn’t work. Apparently, floor boarding [petal to the metal] the gas petal is not helpful. It seems to be directly implicated in the increased speed I was achieving.
I froze. My limbs were locked and it all seemed to be a dream. (A bad one.) Everything was going in slow motion. The padlock on the gate slowly floated through the air while the chain link gates leisurely opened. I thought of Moses parting the Red Sea. No, that wasn’t right. Not the same thing at all! The voice I faintly heard in the background was still screaming. He seemed to be stuck on that “brake” word.
The car was really picking up the pace now, as I noticed the guard’s house. Wouldn’t ya’ know it would be made of concrete! I was headed directly for it. Don’t worry, the guard was at home asleep. Everything was happening so fast.
Later I was told by Charles, that having realized the screaming was not helpful, he dove down to the floor board and pried my foot off the gas petal with one hand while simultaneously using the other hand to press on that dang brake petal he had been screaming about. Apparently, guys are really fond of their brake petals.
When we came to a stop he asked if I was OK. I was. He jumped out to survey the damage. Did I mention this was his NEW car!?
“Everything’s fine!” he said, trying to calm me.
“If everything’s fine, why don’t the head lights work anymore?” I was distrustful.
“It can all be fixed. The important thing is that we’re both OK.”
I wrecked his new car and all he cared about was that we were OK?!! Was he great, or what!!!! I knew then that this man was going to make somebody a great husband. I found out later, that person would be me.
That was 46 years ago and I have been one blessed woman.
He’s such a Sweetheart!
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