The road to the potato field is fraught with danger and excitement.
As you may know, when I was just a little princess in training, I was raised on a potato farm in Idaho. Way back during the Jurassic Period, kids on the farm learned to drive quite early in life. By the age of 10, I had graduated from riding my tricycle to slowly driving the hay-hauling truck between the rows of hay in the field while my dad and some hunky shirtless farmhands hoisted the heavy bales onto the truck. Because I was too small to reach the pedals, dad would set the throttle at a slow pace. Therefore all I had to do was steer the truck so as not to run into any of the hay bales and watch the rippling muscles of the farmhands glistening with perspiration as they became more and more tan.
Several times I got so busy watching the boys that I would run the truck into the occasional bale. When chastised, I would claim that I couldn’t help it because I could not see over the dash, which was quite literally true. And they bought it, especially if I let my lower lip quiver a little. This is where I learned the value of well-timed tears, although I had yet to discover eye make-up and the tragedy of tear-stained running mascara.
There were occasions when I needed to stop the truck, and that required that I stand on the clutch with both feet until the truck would coast to a stop. About every fourth time I stood on the clutch, my feet would slip off the pedal and the truck would lurch forward, often sending the farmhand who was stacking the hay on the truck flying. The resulting “discussions” are where I learned a very impressive and colorful vocabulary.
This was all good training for Driver’s Ed. Oh, how I longed for the day when I would get to drive my dad’s sky-blue Buick Electra 255, which was only four inches shorter than the hay truck, on the road. Later, after graduating from college, I bought my own sky-blue Buick Electra and named it Queertanic.
We inherited an old red 1964 Chevy pickup truck from my grandfather. It had about 300,000 miles on it. The radio was broken. The heater didn’t work. The glove box had been stuck shut for years. But it ran.
One day my dad loaded me and four hunky farmhands into the back of the truck and drove us all about a mile from the house to check the irrigation ditches in the potato field. Back in the day, we could ride in the back of a truck with no concern, and I was ever-so-happy to be back there with the handsome farmhands. Dad instructed each brawny farmhand to patrol separate sections of the ditch bank and search for leaks while working their way back toward the house, then everyone would meet for dinner. I was instructed to inspect a short section of the ditch and return to the truck.
I inspected my section of ditch quickly because I was hungry and wanted to eat soon. I lingered in the truck for what seemed like an eternity. No one came back. I was left alone, listening to the sounds of the crickets and the growling of my stomach while daydreaming about pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy.
I decided that I had been abandoned, and if I wanted dinner, it was up to me to get back to the house on my own. So, I put the transmission into second gear and turned the key, while pushing my foot on the gas. Low and behold, the truck lurched to a start, and I drove it all the way home in second gear. Unbeknownst to me, my dad and all the farmhands were standing on the front lawn of the house, trying to decide who should fetch me when they noticed the truck begin to move ever so slowly up the road. When I pulled into the farmyard, I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood on the brake until the engine killed. Such was my first foray in driving.
Since I had now driven on the road, I felt ready for Driver’s Ed. I had seen a movie in which a very glamourous woman had worn opera-length gloves to drive. I was enamored with that image. Obviously, my initial primal queenly instincts were just beginning to surface. I decided that I needed a place to store some opera-length driving gloves of my own. So, I was cleaning out the red pickup and decided that I was going to open the glove box that had been stuck shut for at least 10 years. I got a crowbar and forced the door of the glove box open for the first time in ages. I was horror-struck at what I saw inside. There, sitting loosely, jiggling around with every bump in the road, were five sticks of dynamite, sweating in the heat. I ran away. We ended up calling and explosives expert to come and remove them. He said that we were extremely lucky not to have blown up years ago.
This story leaves us with several important questions:
- If I had started to wear high heels earlier; might they have helped keep my feet on the clutch?
- Do I drive the large Queertanic in hopes of filling it with hunky farmhands?
- Is this where my fear of dying while lying in a ditch somewhere originated?
- If the truck had exploded with me in it, would that have been the world’s largest glitter bomb?
These and other eternal questions will be answered in future chapters of The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear.