Thursday, July 21, 2011

My First Time

“I was very anxious, and glad it was over quickly”

 “Felt shy at first but once I got the hang of it, I loved it”

“A really painful experience!”

 “Super, freaking awesome!”

These statements came from a group of teenagers as they all described their first time…
                
...to drive a car

A  life time lived to its full results in a painted mosaic of memorable moments,  and for me none are more memorable than my first times with a car.

I'm Learning

“Stop!”, “Slow down...” “Left, left …. No left” arms flailing around giving directions to unseen places; it’s distracting I want to do it my own way.

This is different from how I imagined it. I had planned the whole thing out in my mind – practiced it with the meticulous precision in front of the mirror. I was supposed to be in control, guiding the pace. Shifting the gears higher or lower as my passions dictated. Instead here I am, befuddled , anxious, immature.

She doesn’t respond smoothly to my touch but jerks around as if to eject me; I can’t tell if the violent side-to-side motions are an indication that I should be more firm or less eager.

Next to me my instructor’s countenance is transfixed in horror, like a deer caught in the headlights. Hurtling towards dread but unable to avert it. He slams his pair of breaks and it comes to an end, my first time to drive.

My Own Car

Its a few years later; I have become more experienced through others but now I have my own. She is curvaceous and smooth to the touch. I caress her silky body, raising my heartbeat as my hand glides over her curves.  My anticipation is palpable, I suck my teeth to dry my mouth and lips; that I may not give myself away.

Gently I slide in; her body is generous, welcoming. She hugs my shoulders tightly and I inhale the scent of her upholstery. It’s raw, it’s powerful, it’s seductive. I grip the steering and feel instant response. Boy, I haven’t even turned her on.

I let my hand fall to the gear from where I’ll control her, familiarizing myself with its smooth, knobbed end. My feet play with the pedals – how to make her go faster, how to slow her down. I’m worried; will I be able to treat her right? I am bold enough to command her to bend her to my will.

 It’s now or never, I ignite her engine, she purrs eagerly releasing the remaining tautness in my shoulders. Soon we fall into rhythm: clutch, gear, gas. I’m into it, she is exactly what I wanted, what I needed. We’re in sync and I am driving around in my own car for the first time.

Crash and Burn

Hot, stinging things are swirling all around us, wait…no… it’s us who are spinning 360 degrees, over and over. It’s not  excitement I feel but fear. The clich├ęd life flashes before your eyes experience is absent. All I have is Bryan Adam’s crooning how these were the best days of our life playing on the stereo, as asphalt and tarmac fly around the spinning car.

How did it come to this, we had developed a rapport, a bond. I would ask, and she would respond. But I neglected her and now she’s punishing me, violently. So this is what it has come to, a mutual bond being physically ripped apart, because of failure to service. She’s trying to push me out, but I cling on – my belt is firmly tied. She bucks like an annoyed bronco, but with persistent steering I finally subdue her by the side of the road. I drag myself out of her, I’m in pain, my first time in a car accident.  

Take it to the finish line

It’s 15 years since that awkward first day. I’ve been through the thrills, the scares, the leisure and the dares, but nothing can prepare me for what I’m about to experience next.

This time I’ll need special gear – for protection. I’ll have others watching, some cheering and some jeering but all sharing. All will prepare me for a new first.

On paper she’s not all that. 66 is her top speed, automatic shift, bi pedals, but by God. When I finally start her up the rabid thrill of her vibrations overwhelm me. The air around us is hot and acrid with petrol fumes. She bounces around the short track with unrestrained, wild passion, urging me to push her faster and harder.

Ecstatic as I overtake another, seeing my reflection in the visor of his bobbing helmet. We’re up at a hairpin  bend but I press the throttle harder, inches before the warning chicane I brake: late, hard, once. The spin carries us around the bend and I gun the engine again on the stretch. Whiz past more drivers, overtaking the fast, overlapping the slow. Exhilaration, as I move closer and closer to number one. I repeat the feat over the remaining laps, to take top honours my first time in a go kart race.

My first times: anxiety, anticipation, pain, pleasure; memories that will never fade.

But once is not enough – time for round two! 

ED. This post is about cars - anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get their head checked (and then washed with a bar of Ushindi