Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Of women and cars

She may be disagreeable sometimes…well, most of the time. But Allan's wife really is a good woman. Overwhelming evidence may indicate otherwise, but his Datsun actually is a good car.
Mrs. Allan and the Datsun, as narrated by Allan.

"Two years ago when I bought my Datsun, my wife nagged me into giving her a driving lesson. Looking back, that must have been the most dangerous afternoon of my life, for we stared death in the face three times in that one session alone. Naturally, I immediately banned her from all things motor vehicle, but undaunted, she scrimped on the kitchen budget, fed me vegetables for a month and raised enough cash to go to a real driving school. Fortunately, the driving instructors of that school were equally unimpressed by her potential and she was never licensed to drive. This put a damper on her enthusiasm and for two years, there was tranquility in her relationship with cars.

But all good things, as heaven ordained, must come to an end. Recently, a pre-natal misdiagnosis forced my now pregnant wife to re-evaluate her choice of maternity services provider, and by the next day, Pumwani had lost yet another customer and Aga Khan hospital had gained one. I was obviously dismayed by the expected increase in the relevant fees this was going to entail, but that was nothing compared to her passion for the wheel the hospital switch Inadvertently re-awakened in her.

“Every pregnant mother drives in for her appointment except me.” She complained after her second most recent trip to the hospital. “Why do I have to be the only one that walks in like a Kawangware resident who doesn’t own a car?”

“Maybe because you actually are a Kawangware resident who doesn’t own a car?” I suggested, desperately hoping she would deviate from her apparent train of thought.

No such luck. “I promise I’ll oil it, fuel it and get it washed when I come from the hospital.” When she really wants something, my wife has this remarkable ability, absent in possibly all women, of getting straight to the point.

My firm refusal earned me a night on the sofa.

But the next day when I was in a matatu on my way to work, I opened my wallet to pay my fare to and realized the car keys were missing. Their whereabouts were obviously a no-brainer, and I instantly sent a prayer heavenward for God to take extra good care of my wife and unborn child, and especially my car, that day.I was so worried that I left work early.

The car was not on the parking lot when I arrived home, But my wife was, and she had made a sumptuous lunch as if she had anticipated I would leave work early. She served me like a king, laughed at my jokes throughout the meal, asked about my day, curled up close to me when I lay back for a siesta and generally behaved very suspiciously. When she produced two Pilsners from the bedroom, I knew it was time I acted before I got too complacent. “Honey,” I asked. “Where is the car?”

“Relax.” She purred. “It is at the garage. Didn’t I promise to get it oiled, washed and fueled?”

I was extremely grateful, and I thought maybe I had been too rash in dismissing my wife’s driving competence. I resolved give her another shot at driving school and a license as soon as the baby is born, for she was showing herself to be very responsible.

This resolution was reinforced the next day, but for very different reason.

When I passed by the garage and I saw my car, I almost fainted. The paintwork on the left side of the car was gone. Not patchy or scratched, but literally gone. The front fender was twisted like the branch of an acacia tree, and it was impossible to ascertain the condition of the three headlights I had affixed to the fender only the previous week, since they weren’t even there in the first place. Gone too was the left headlamp, and the front windshield looked like a chart of the entire human vascular system, capillaries, veins and all.

And that is why it is absolutely necessary, imperative even, that my wife learns to drive. Her passion for the wheel, albeit intermittent, is absolute, and I don't want to even imagine what will happen the next time it hits. So I'd rather she actually knew how to drive when it does"

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