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14 October 2007

How to spend the afternoon not reading either of two books you can't put down....

Thinking that I'd finish one book (Alan Bennett's wonderfully delightful novella, The Uncommon Reader) and then get back to Ian McEwan's Atonement which is just getting to the 'can't put down stage' as I know it's approaching the ugliness of humans bit that McEwan is so good at writing, I thought I'd let my college-age son drive back to school as I read. He had borrowed my car while I was on vacation.

Just a few miles onto the interstate, far enough to get past the city speed limits, he states:

I wouldn't have bought this car. There's a lot that I don't like about it. He proceeded with a long list of ridiculous issues that surely are more important to college-aged freshman males than they are to their mothers. Little 'issues' like the staid color navy blue, the crappy factory-installed stereo with no mp3 player, the lack of power seats, the funky day-glo indigo color of the dashboard lights (which I have to agree is weird but I didn't test drive it at night) or the ridiculous expense -- given their relative safety value -- of side-curtain air bags. This last comment, I'm sure, was a test to see if I was listening. It was only a lead-in for the next comment, one that was too good to have been sacrificed to a book:

But it does handle nicely on the road. Why, when I took a road trip to St Louis last weekend, I was amazed how you can get over 100mph before you even know it! The car doesn't even shake until you're way past that.

Good German engineering. I said, trying to mask a "Pull over this second! You're never driving one of my cars again! Ever!" tone of voice that was combined with a rising sense of panic as I noticed that we were sandwiched between two semis with little breathing space.

Silently, I cursed that my reading glasses didn't allow me to see the speedometer from the passenger side seat. Couldn't decide for the next 60 miles if reading was a distraction from the certainty of imminent highway disaster, or if it only made the quick glances from page to pavement more agonizing.

I'm grateful that Freshman aren't allowed vehicles on campus at Big 10 Engineering school with a train for its mascot. And I'm happy that it only took my dear son three days and two parking tickets to realize that having to move a car parked on city streets every day was more hassle than it was worth.

Back to work tomorrow and, sadly, back to reduced reading time. Ah! if only vacations could be the routine, and I could always spend my afternoons reading and my evenings taking pictures like this from boats at dock or at sea:

6 comments:

pmousse said...

Parents have the amazing ability to give the external appearance of calm while the world is ending internally, such as when children make confessions about past near misses in the car. Oh, how they age us.

Anne said...

I was all set to post on how great the Bennett & McEwan are--I just finally did get around to posting on the Bennett on my site last week--when your story about your son's driving stopped me in my tracks. Anyway, I loved both books.

I can see it. All too clearly.

Somedays I'm glad that mine are still 4 & 1...

(un)relaxeddad said...

Do you think he was winding you up? I really must get around to McEwan. For some reason he keeps slipping off the end of my mental 'to read' list, even though everyone reader I know tells me how wonderful he is...

Cam said...

Pmousse - I think other parents are better at that external composure. I am much calmer in writing than I was in actuality.

Anne -- I thought of your review when I saw Bennett's book at the store. Was one of the things that encouraged me to read it. It is very funny.

Unrelaxed -- Of course he was winding me up! His driving does scare me though. Of course, he is quick to point out that I'm the one who has had 1 bang-up accident and 1 speeding ticket in the last year. But, I'm quick to respond that they were the first ticket in 20 yrs and the first accident in 25 yrs (well, I don't count the little incident with the garage door and the .... nevermind). His boyish good lucks and charm, apparently, have talked him out of 3 tickets recently. He was so busted by one of his buddies on this. I had no idea -- and all the more cause for worry. I may worry about his driving until he is old and gray.

danielle said...

Kids should really not share stories like this with their parents I sometimes think. Much better for the sanity to not know too much. I love the photo by the way--I've been meaning to mention that all week!

Cam said...

Danielle, Thanks for the compliment on the photo. It was truly one of those that I didn't realize how what a shot I had until I downloaded the set.