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"Maybe we were both crazy beforehand."

The Muse and I drive each other crazier every time we drive. I'm amazed that we still consent to enter the car together and head out onto the road. Around town toodles never rile us much. It takes a freeway for our true insanity to emerge. You see, we do not now nor have we ever shared what she calls a threshold. This threshold delineates the speed one considers prudent. To her, I always drive like an old Italian woman, lacking only a few pounds and a black dress from fully embodying the look. To me, she drives like Mr. Toad on his famous Wild Ride, apparently distracted while madly passing everything in sight. I never, ever, even in my wildest dreams exceed the speed limit. She considers it perfectly prudent to exceed it by five or more miles per hour. She spends her passenger seat time distracting herself so she won't notice that we're making a whole lot less headway than she'd projected. I spend my passenger seat time frantically hanging on with both hands while pleading with her to slow the you-know-what down.

By the end of the day, we're exasperated with each other. I've developed a charley horse in my thighs from hours of fruitless bracing for impacts that wondrously never came. She notes that I seem all shocky.
I feel as though I should be hospitalized for professional tranquilization. I try to explain to her that when I cannot see the road ahead, I slow down. When, like yesterday, the speed limit seems set at an imprudent level, I simply slow down to a rate which enables me to better see what's coming. A seventy-five mph sign followed by several seventy mph curves, and I'll just keep it at seventy, or sixty five. She'll ask after the difference and I'll fail to explain again.

She wanted to ditch a stupid chopped tow truck throwing snow off it's rear end, so she attempted to outrun it. Just looking at the vehicle told me it was driven by a genuine maniac, so I counseled her to simply drive the speed limit and he'd quickly fade into the distance. She took to competing, which left her directly behind in it's snowy slipstream for a half hour or more. I let go of my trusty handhold long enough to slap my forehead before bracing myself anew. Oh, we share some conversation between my panic attacks and her dismissive boredom, but if our relationship had ever been based upon driving compatibility, we would have been history long, long ago.

The end of any long drive initiates a period of forgiveness. I apologize for being such a ninny when she's driving. I'm the one who can't distract myself out of commenting and complaining. I'm the one school-marming her on the finer points of safer driving. I'm the one unable to simply stifle my severe discomfort. She honestly tries to avoid alarming me overmuch, if only to avoid the resulting embarrassing hassle. We inhabit a never-ending struggle where driving's concerned.

I know of no therapy that addresses dueling thresholds. I'm not certain that either of us would submit to it if there was. The Muse was raised in a lead-footed family, always shaving the speed limit pig and usually succeeding. Her earlier experience metastasized into a seeming scoff law speed limit attitude. She's one of those who believed the propaganda proclaiming that no state trooper ever tickets anyone driving less than eight mph over the freeway speed limit. I believe that speeding isn't a matter of what I can get away with, but of whether I respect the rules. I think it my ethical responsibility to observe speed limits and I also believe that all those who don't observe them are genuine reprobates. I'm married to someone who routinely violates this single, rather modest, apparently personal ethical standard. Everyone passes me all the time. Of course I cannot ever know how many speed limit observers trail behind me because they never overtake me. Let's just say that there's never anyone following me for long.

I struggle to trust her with my life in her hands when she sits behind the wheel, though in every other facet of our life together, she routinely resolves to trustworthy. My delicate sensibility (though probably not solely this single one) complicates our togetherness in the way that complex tastes create savory and umami undertones. I might just as well figure that we might be worse off without our differing thresholds, though their collision drives us both crazy. Maybe we were both crazy beforehand.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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