“Look out!” my wife screamed as I backed out of the driveway.
My heart nearly exploded in terror, I virtually shot straight out of my seat and I slammed on the brakes.
First, let me take a deep breath and explain one thing before I continue with this story. I have the recurring dream that I am driving on the highway and that I awaken at the last minute and it is too late to avoid a major collision with the car in front of me, so her alarm siren from here touched off some nerves. Meanwhile, back to the moment….
“What!?” I shrieked in response. “Did I almost hit someone?”
“No,” my wife assured me. “It looked like you were going to hit the house.”
I looked out my window and my side mirror was a good foot away from our home. In our narrow driveway that’s actually pretty far.
I knew where the conversation was going. We’ve repeat this same argument over and over again. Maybe this is where my nightmare comes from.
“I see the house and I am nowhere near it,” I said.
“I’m sorry, but from here, it looked like you were going to hit it.”
“I am a good 15 inches or so away. You freaked me out. I thought someone had run behind the car or there was some obstacle lying in our driveway I was about to collide with. You scared me to death! Sheesh!”
“Well, I’m sorry. Would you rather I wait until you hit the house? Is that what you want, for you to get in a collision and me not say anything?”
And so goes our ongoing debate.
I have to admit, there have been a few times when I was crossing an intersection and did not see a car coming from the side. And, honestly, I am glad in those cases she did sound the alarm.
But for all of those real crises, there have been about 10 fake shrieks: You’re going to hit the pole! You’re too close to the garage! You’re going to hit the curb! You’re too close to the median! You’re going to smack into that car in front of you! But usually it’s just a deafening blast from my usually soft-spoken spouse: LOOK OUT!
Invariably when this happens, both of our hearts and adrenal glands start pumping furiously, which just gets us fuming. We spend the next five minutes of the drive arguing over whether she is over-reacting or I am over-reacting to her rational reacting.
To be fair, it’s hard to drive as a passenger in tense situations. Our kids tend to tailgate when they drive and I was a wreck in the Sierra Nevada mountains when my younger son was driving. It was so bad, I had to move to the back seat and take my eyes off the road to keep from freaking out on the hairpin curves.
Nancy and I have each been in an accident in the car alone when we’ve totaled cars in the past, so maybe we have saved each other, but you would never deduce that from the argument:
“You’re the one screaming!”
I think this is why I don’t have one of those new-fangled cars with lane-deviation warnings, blind-spot alerts and all the rest. Suddenly a drive in the car alone would deteriorate into an argument, and one I am pretty sure the machine would always win.
“Mommy, the man in that car next to us is talking to himself, and he is yelling really loudly. It sounds like he is arguing with his car.”
There are a lot of statistics to say that married men live longer than unmarried men. I am hear to tell you it all starts with a blood-curdling scream.