Friday, May 14, 2010

Pimp My Ride

The other day I gave my parents a lift to the airport. They were due at my place at 11am, and at precisely 11:02 dad came roaring into the house yelling at me to hurry up, stop dawdling, show a sense of urgency, stop mucking about, take him seriously, pull myself together and for god’s sake get in the car! The shock of hearing my father’s voice raised that loud actually slowed me down… luckily he didn’t see me pause on the stairs, he had already frantically run back out onto the street. I got into the car where mum, who was behind the wheel, was on the phone. We sat in tense silence for 5 minutes while she finished up, dad staring at his watch.

I didn’t take any of this personally. Dad’s a remarkably chilled out guy most of the time, and we weren’t even running late, but this was a special circumstance. My father’s personal kryptonite is going to the airport. It brings together all the variables that haunt him – packing, time, a hard deadline, traffic, paperwork and (in the most extreme examples) my mother. My mother is a brilliant woman, but she’s not famed for her timeliness. You could be sprinting to get the last train to the lost city of Atlantis, and she will hold you up because she’s just had a quilting epiphany and she needs to add a few stitches. All this comes together to haunt dad. The uncertainty of making it to the plane, and the sweaty panic this evokes is the stuff of legend.

Airports are dad’s Stress Vortex.

For some people their Stress Vortex is their annual attempt to quit smoking, for others it’s having the in-laws over for the full Mother’s Day weekend. Some people’s minds boggle at Christmas, and the family fun-ride it entails, for other’s it’s Summer and the threat of the cricket season kicking off.

Some people don’t have a Stress Vortex. That’s because they’re lazy.

My current Stress Vortex is based around my parent’s car, which I am babysitting. It’s full-time fancy. My neighbours would probably be pleased to see it gracing our street instead of my Red Wagon which has a dent/scratch on every available panel. My neighbours don’t get to see it though, because I’m so freaked out about damaging it in any way that I park it on a different, wider, more expensive street where I feel it truly belongs. The cars there wear smoking jackets and play polo in their spare time. I can barely bring myself to drive it, and when I do I show my rapidly approaching middle age by cruising a good 10km under any speed limit. I must be turning heads though – I received a toot of admiration from a truck driver as I crawled along the Eastern Distributor.

How can people with fancy cars even bring themselves to pull out of their gold-plated garages? I drive with reckless abandon because I know the only thing of value my car has to it is me (and that’s still being assessed). In my parents car it took me 10 minutes to perform a reverse park. In the Red Wagon I swerve in and know I’m suitably close when some part of the vehicle hits the curb. I’ve had to get so many tyres replaced the guys at the tyre shop call me the Black Widow.

Painefull Out

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