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Driving Him Worse Than Crazy
by Rose DeShaw

After I prayed and prayed and prayed, God sent me a husband. Just like the song in Guys and Dolls, I knew that my love had come along. Unfortunately the car nearly came between us.

I bumped into him driving around town, the casual way you did before Facebook, mostly through the church around which my entire life revolved. He was three years ahead of me in high school. Earnest, skinny guy with big blue eyes, military hair and a way of listening so intently you’d think what you were saying was important.

One time, in our late teens, he’d given my sister and I a ride home in one of his series of clunkers. The engine cut out, going up the Division street hill (every town has a major artery named ‘Division,’). “Get out and push,” he suggested, leaning over to open the passenger door. (We were both sitting in front so as to be near him).

There we were, church clothes, 3 inch patent leather heels and full skirts with crinolines, ruining our manicures on the rusty back of his old Pontiac while he coaxed it to start again which it eventually did.

We spent most of our gas money hauling around the church youth group. In those seatbeltless days, we got 9 people in the backseat, (which was a long padded bench), five on the bench in front, forgoing the third layer, as the driver had to see and the windshield slant wouldn’t accommodate more. Occasionally a further two sat across our feet on the floor in back, which made 16. Nobody volunteered to ride in the trunk though we occasionally considered it.

My father was very against such overloading and threatened to take away my 1950 Willy’s jeep if he caught me doing it. So of course I passed him the following day with the radio blaring, the usual 14 bodies in the car and a ladder strapped to the top.

Among many flaws, the worst thing about this jeep was the tendency of the front seat to inexplicably slide back while you were driving, especially on steep hills. I found this particularly irritating the one time I was driving barefoot, delivering my brother’s pet skunk across town. We didn’t have a skunk carrier as it was more or less domesticated but whenever the seat slid back, it would rush out and nip my feet. So I kept them raised whenever possible.

Now both anniversaries are coming up. It’s been nearly 47 years since the day we married, 47 since I agreed to stop driving before I killed myself and whatever innocent pedestrians strayed into my path. Occasionally I still have nightmares about driving till I wake, find him next to me and reflect again that both were really, really, good decisions.