Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Mimisms ~ Pigtails In a Pine Tree

I was fifteen.

We were way out in the middle of sixty acres of his father's land in the middle of the middle of nowhere. Weedy and snaky roads. Nothing there except a million pine trees, a well with cool spring water, a rusty old tractor, some rose bushes that had seen better days.... and me and Daddy in his 66 Fairlane Ford Sedan.
He refused to drive anything but a Ford. It looked a lot like this except the color was a bit darker blue. (Thank you It's the only one I could find and I have no idea why there is a Siberian Husky in the front seat and I don't know who those people are forgive me please but it is public domain..I digress)

Anyway, his mission that day was to teach me to drive a straight gear with a clutch before I got my learner's permit. These are my verdant memories of that fateful day.
Lots of pine trees, lots of cussing, pigtails and Daddy's big shoes.

I had to sit on a Sears Roebuck catalog just to see over the steering wheel.
He drove waaaaay down this bumpy dirt road out of reach of all civilization ( Daddy was a wise man) and told me that we would begin at the barn and drive back up to the house. OK. Simple. We switched places. "This the clutch. This is the brake. This is the gas." I stopped. I started. I lurched. I slammed. I started. He cussed. A lot. This was harder than playing the foot pedals on the church organ for sure. Finally, the car began to act like it had some sense and moved.
Away we went!
The road was lined with apple trees. Green apple trees with worm holes and pretty colors and speckles and such. I was fascinated with the trees on each side. I was not paying attention to the sharp curve ahead that led into the driveway of the house.

Have you ever made intimate and personal contact with a pine cone?

We're talking branches and branches of sticky needles and scratches all over the windshield, hood and roof of Daddy's Ford. All I heard was "Slow down. Sis, slooooow down. Sis. Sis. Sis! Slow d......."
By the third slow down I was paralyzed by the impatience in his voice and forgot how to slow down. I literally could not remember where the brake was. Brake. Clutch. Clutch. Brake. Eeeny meeny. No clue. He yelled. I panicked.
And then I felt his big big hard shoe on top of my foot slamming on brakes -I gotta tell ya - that hurt!

It wasn't a pretty day, my friends.

"Mimi! What are you DOING???!!
Well, by the time it was all over I was picking pine needles out of my pigtails and Daddy and I were sitting in a shady car.
I looked at him.
He looked at me.
He cussed some more.
"You didn't tell me about the pine tree. I didn't know there was a pine tree. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to."

"You mean you couldn't see that pine tree?"
"I saw the pine tree, Daddy. No..I...well....I didn't see it in time."

"Why didn't you put on the brakes? I told you to hit the brakes!"

"I forgot where they were."

"You're not paying a damn bit of attention to what I'm telling you."
He was right. I tugged on my left pigtail like I always did when I was in a world of trouble and turned my face away in embarrassment.

"You hurt my foot!!" I said with tears rolling down my face which only made him feel worse.... and thinking to myself that I would never learn to drive this stupid car. I needed a manual for the manual transmission class.
And I'm sitting on a department store. Typical.

He huffed and puffed and muttered. I got out and we changed places. We left the Pine Tree Motel and he drove home in silence with a sniveling me tugging on my hair looking out the window. Looking anywhere but at him.
Boy, was he mad at me.

Now that he's gone I tend to recall the things that made me happy about our relationship but I also tend to forget the stressful days. I shouldn't.
There were many and they are real too. They are part of our relationship. Tears and yelling in sticky situations are part of our father/daughter evolution.
I didn't want to disappoint him.
I always feared I would.
I sometimes did.

And nothing made him madder than when I cried. He just didn't know what to do with that. His propensity for impatience with me was only equally matched by my tendency to take everything so personally. A cycle we trod many times.

My memories are not all sugary sweet. But they are part of the eventual redemption that took place in his later years which made our love and understanding of each other so much stronger.

I think I would like to do that lesson over.
I wouldn't have cried.

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*images Public Domain*


Mike Golch said...

In 1971 I owned the same car.It was Tan,it was my first car.I bought it when I was at Chanute Air Force Base,Rantoul Ill.That is where I attended Tech school,I was learning to be an Aircraft Electrician.I miss that car.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mike - Really? Glad it brought back good memories for you.
Daddy was proud of his car. I did finally learn to drive a 5-speed transmission soon after. My boyfriend had a Ford Mustang and I LOVED it.

I still love to drive a stick shift car.

Sans the pine tree.

Anonymous said...

You made me cry :(
I love the "realness" of your story. Too often we like to sugar coat our not so perfect memories. But real life isn't perfect is it?
Fathers and mothers get frustrated and angry with their children... and children cry, and grow, and learn. It is the way of things.

Thanks for sharing :)

Mimi Lenox said...

Dawn - No, life isn't perfect and we weren't the Waltons. But the love was there.
That's what counts.

katherine. said...

fathers teaching daughters to drive.

big smile. many more lessons did he give you before you got the hang of it???

katherine. said...

and excellent use of the word, verdant, by the way!

bobbybegood1 said...

Such a lovely and touching story. O brother! Here I go. Crying. I did get the opportunity to do those father/daughter things -- as my father passed when I was six. Oh, well. But, I have a good story for you.

Sam, my ex-fiance, bought a Volkswagon GTI. Standard, of course. The lengths men won't go to impress a woman. Right? Anydiddles, one day he decided he was going to teach me how to drive a car with a clutch. So, we pulled into the parking lot of Models Sporting store. No cars. Easy, right? No problems, right? Well, we exchanged seats. He proceeded to tell me the difference between the clutch, brake, etc. Mind you we were in the dead of winter. So, I continue to drive. Pressing my foot on the clutch, changing gears, brake. Not noticing the snow bank in front of me due to my over concern with changing gears, and what not. Bam!! I tried to make the turn, but I ran his precious GTI right into the snow bank.

The amazing part of this story is is that there was another couple in the parking lot doing the same thing we were doing. He was teaching her how to drive. If it wasn't for this couple being there, we would have had to wait for the spring thaw to get that car out. Hahahahahahaha!!! Cheers Mimi!!

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember teaching Josh to drive. We had some fun. No pine trees, although we had a few close calls with objects. We used to drive in empty parking lots as well.

Cogitator said...

Rejoice in the real. Yeah!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

ah, Mimi...

Akelamalu said...

Good or Bad all memories are precious - they keep your Daddy alive Mimi. x

Michelle said...

You brought back memories for me too, Mimi. Of my one and only driving lesson with my dad (one - so that we kept loving rather than wanting to kill each other)

Why does life have to be so hard when you're in it and seem so simple when you're looking back at it?

Bond said...

LOLOLOL Love this post...Grand memories there Mimi...

Speedcat Hollydale said...

To truly love anyone, you must love all of them, including the flaws. I know we sometimes like to think we don't have them, and turn a blind eye to others faults, but when you can accept a person in their entirety ... that is something special.

big hugs

The Gal Herself said...

What an important post! The way your dad treated you helped shaped the woman you are today, and I think it's cool and valuable that you acknowledge every aspect of that complicated relationship.

I still don't cry in public because my dad couldn't STAND it. I also only cried once as we laid him to rest. It was between he and I. I know that some people didn't think I felt his loss because I didn't wail more, but screw them. I know he was prouder of me for my stoicism.

A wise post today, Your Highness.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The first car I can recall my family having was a Ford Anglia. It was a popular car in the early 1960's.

Travis said...

I learned to drive in a Ford too, but mine was a Torino. And not the cool Red Torino with the White Stripe that Starsky drove. It was a brown and ugly Gran Torino.

Your story made me smile. It's all a part of you.

Jamie said...

That is a beautiful story. Daddy's and daughters do tend to have intense memorable interactions good and bad. Since they make us whole human beings, it's good to keep ALL the memories.

Anonymous said...

move over...I'm driving...

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