Wednesday, October 15, 2008
"For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind."
The Aunt cast a long shadow, and tales of her exploits will linger. During the course of a discussion with Mater I came to understand that the old lady had been a terrible and dangerous driver in her day. I learned, too, that one family member had more cause than the rest of us to tremble at the sound of the Aunt's faithful car engine.
He lived in close proximity to the Aunt, quite in another part of the country to the rest of us. It happened frequently that he, with no car of his own, would be left with no option but to accept the Aunt's company when offered.
She would, as a rule, talk to her passengers, and invariably her eyes were on not the road but the person she was intensely speaking to.
She might see a green traffic light far off in the distance, and, for fear of getting caught halfway by a changing light, would abruptly bring the car to a grinding halt a great distance from the appropriate stopping point. She would wait until the light had turned yellow, then red, then green again: then off she would go, never once having heeded the distressed drivers behind her, paying not a bit of attention to her traumatised passenger.
That anybody survived to tell their version of accounts is a wonder.
On one such adventure, the fellow in question decided that beloved as the Aunt might be, he could take no more tension. He developed the seed of an idea, and spun it into a cunning, intricate plan of minute detail and careful strategy.
He pretended to be asleep.
Every car excursion from then on saw the Aunt lapse into elongated silence, and having no waking soul to converse with, her eyes mercifully stayed on the road at all times.
Quite apart from ensuring the Aunt was not led to distraction, he had another, more personal motive. Equally essential to his well-being was the old maxim: what cannot be seen cannot be harmful. With his eyes closed tightly against all the awful possibilities, he was thus able to avoid seeing disaster as he hurtled toward it.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 1:15 PM