I can’t tell you why I reject most stereotypes, but readily maintain The Man Drives. Steve hates it. Sometimes he’ll work up the courage and hold out the keys like a white flag, or more infrequently I’ll offer, and his body sinks into its grateful place on my right.
Tonight I brought the car up from the underground parking while Steve and Emma finished shopping. I found them waiting for me in the rain at a mall entrance above ground. On days I drive myself to work, I’m content and sure. A little bit giddy, even, over the independence and adult status it offers. I become an insecure, skittish child with Steve in My Seat. With anyone in My Seat. Most of the mistakes I’ve made driving have been when I have a passenger (Emma doesn’t count). It’s an instant shift in my energy.
I’m not sure if it started with me beginning road trips submissively verifying that my route is acceptable, or if it started with Steve questioning my turns and paying extra attention when I back up or brake or change lanes. It’s a rhythm we fell into without noticing how tense it makes both of us.
We pulled out of the mall parking lot and Steve reflexively voiced he didn’t understand my turn choice. I responded with a sing-songy “oh well” with too-tight vocal chords neither of us noticed. When he did it again, this time jokingly, I snapped back that this is why I don’t like to drive. We had one of our “I fucking hate you, but our child is in earshot, so I shall make it seem like you will live until morning” exchanges, with Emma being no fool and sighing discomfort from behind.
In the quiet that followed, I worked out that I was the creator of my own subordinate driving status. I show up to most events believing I am a fraud. I am incompetent. I am less intelligent. Less capable. I present myself as a broken, incomplete ying. My people respond as helpful yangs. Completing the incomplete. Ready to mend.
I set up the imbalance.
Steve gingerly poked at the silence, asking if I was still mad.
“No. I’m transferring something on to you. I’m not sure what. I’ve taught you how to treat me. It’s not your fault.”
“Well, if your plan was to make driving with you so awful that you never have to do it again, genius pla—hey, why are you taking this route?” Humour during tension. Nicely played, Caterpillar Lip.
I have the Reminder app on my phone set to start each day at 7am reminding me that “I am enough.” It’s gonna change how I drive Ms. Shannon.
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Steve is killing the caterpillar on Saturday. Don’t forget to donate. My face earned it; moustache kissing is scratchy kissing.