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Like any man, a woman, too can fall in love with a car

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SLOUGH, ENGLAND:

If I had to pick the ultimate love of my life, it would almost certainly be my tiny gorgeous grey hybrid Yaris, Elsie. 

Elsie has been christened so due to the clever combination of the letters L and C on her number plate. Her number plate also bears the letters PNK. It is my dearest wish to spray-paint her pink, so she can live up to her full name: Elsie Pink. Elsie's seat is high enough so the vertically challenged can see where they are headed without sitting on a pile of cushions. She can fit into parking spaces the size of a matchbox in three seconds and one attempt. Basically, if you are a woman, Elsie is the car of your dreams.

A vehicular nemesis

My son, whose car dreams are slightly different, is appalled by my raptures for Elsie. As a true representative of his fellow males, his heart is more geared towards flat-as-a-pancake Sports cars in primary colours. “You know nothing about cars,” he has told me sadly on many an occasion. “This car – it is not cool. It’s so ugly. I get why we can’t have a Maserati, but couldn’t we at least have got another BMW?”

My husband has a BMW. I am no fan of it, and it is certainly no fan of me. Too big and too ugly to warrant either a name or a gender, the BMW is my sworn nemesis. When it senses I am driving, it scouts out every wayward twig along the side of the road to etch in a brand new scratch along the door for its rightful owner to discover later in the day. If a twig is unavailable, like a compass needle seeking north, it will locate a carefully placed shard of glass or a ten-inch nail pointing to the heavens.

“Fourth one this year!” says my stunned husband as he examines the large nail poking out of the front passenger-side tyre. “How do you manage it? Do you practise?”

Because he is a man, nails in the road do not find my dear other half, ever. They flee from his path like two north-facing magnets. He thinks, just because he can parallel park in half a microsecond with one flick of a wrist, that his lack of dealings with stray items on the road is all down to his skill. He is woefully unaware that sometimes, these things are out to get you.

“It wasn’t me,” I explain. “It was the nail. It just appeared.”

Mr Expert Parallel Parker does not believe that nails can just spontaneously appear in nature, so this is the point he darkly swears I am never to even look at his car again, until the next time an urgent BMW-related errand falls to my lot and we repeat the cycle.

Lose the fear of the wheel

Still, uncomprehending in many ways though he may be, he has at least never fallen prey to the strange ideas infecting the minds of other desi men. “My husband will let me drive with only a woman instructor,” confided one woman in ownership of a Bangladeshi husband. “I’ve only found a Sikh male instructor in my town, so I’m still waiting.” 

I had a Sikh male driving instructor, and he was an angel. As a veteran having done no less than four driving tests, I am extremely well qualified to give an opinion on driving instructors, having dealt with an Italian man, a Pakistani woman, and a Sikh man. The Italian man quickly passed me on to the Pakistani woman after his strictures on braking distances fell on deaf ears. The Pakistani woman would hold her head in her hands and say, “Seriously, we have done this roundabout fifty times already, are you EVER going to figure out which lane you’re meant to exit from?” She roped in the Sikh man when she could take the roundabout saga no more.

The Sikh man spoke to me like I was a four-year-old. “If you believe it, you can do it,” he told me upon learning I sobbed like a Victorian widow after failing my previous three driving tests. “You are a fabulous driver. See? What a brilliant right turn that was!” Not all heroes wear capes, you see.

I told my licence-less companion about my experience with male Sikh instructors, but she waved aside my advice with the startling revelation that she wasn’t too fussed about driving. “So how do you do the weekly shop, then?” I asked, secretly envious of the inadvertent arm workout she must be getting.

“I go with my husband on the weekends,” she replied. “And when we come home, he gives me driving lessons on the roads near our house.”

I can only conclude from this statement that this woman is married to a unicorn, or possibly a hologram. As womankind has learned the hard way, the only thing worse than doing the groceries with someone you are married to is to stick him in the passenger seat when you drive. I know of one man who once tried to flick on the indicator as his wife drove. The only reason he was not beheaded on the spot was because the sharpest implement nearby was a blunt pencil in the backseat.

Ladies, listen to me. Forget everything a man has ever told you. You are just as skilled behind the wheel as he is. If you keep driving into the kerb, it is because your car is evil, and that kerb shouldn’t have been there. I didn’t realise this until I met my gorgeous Elsie, who repels kerbs as if by magic and refuses to drive over something sharp. Remember, you are a fabulous driver. You execute brilliant right turns. And if you find yourself with a puncture on a Monday morning, it’s not your fault; sharp nails spontaneously appear in nature all the time.

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