Defensive Driver Dating Course

“While it should not be used in interpersonal relationships, the basic premise of defensive driving is to assume to worse in others. It is better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed.”

In other words, everyone on the road is a moron except you.

This, Hubby knows.

But also…everyone in the dating world is guilty until proven innocent.

And this, mom knows.

I submit to you “Exhibit A”, the Defensive Driving Course I had to take at work this week, and from whence the above quote cometh:

Immediately, I understood that this was much bigger than ensuring that employees of this fine city demonstrate model behavior behind the wheel of city vehicles.

This course presented as a training tool for defensive driving is actually spot on for Defensive Dating and interpersonal relationship strategies! I plagiarized, if you will, from an unwitting yet brilliant driving instructor.

It’s not his fault.

I will now exchange the concepts of “driving” and “dating” with reckless abandon.

Having five children between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six demands a constant repetition of Proper Mindset Strategies for those about to drive or date.

The youngsters are anticipating zero traffic in downtown LA at 5pm on a Tuesday.

This is not the Proper Mindset.

To recap:

“People constantly make assumptions about others while driving.”  Per Exhibit B.

“Assume the worse.” Per Exhibit A.

Just because you are driving next to a Prius, one cannot assume that said Prius will keep up with the flow of traffic and stay in it’s lane. One must prepare for the possibility that the Prius will come from a totally dysfunctional family, swerve into every pub you pass, have a fondness for jazz, and keep a spider monkey in the trunk.  It happens.

And you need to Anticipate it.

When approaching a dating situation, do not develop a fixed stare. He chose that tie on purpose. Probably.

Maintain your personal space and stay aware of your surroundings using peripheral vision to monitor distractions like other pretty girls, or notice your ex is sitting across the way, throwing peanuts at your head.

“An acute sense of hearing is an important skill for daters. There are many sounds that are intended to alert a dater to possible hazards, and not hearing these sounds can have tragic consequences.”  Per Exhibit E.

If your date sighs heavily between the salad and main course in the fancy restaurant, you have been alerted to incoming boredom, drama, or confession. Pay attention.

If you hear the words, “Nothing”, “Whatever”, “Wow”, or “Fine”, go into high alert. Put out orange cones. Slow to a stop safely off the road and wait for the explosion to pass.

Never text and date.

You will be locked up in the doghouse faster than you can say, “But honey, I heard everything you just said!”

You have choices as a dater.

Dating on a familiar route and steering clear of challenges is obviously not one of them. No one wants to date a boring dater.

On the other hand, always leave room for an out. We present Exhibit G:

Following your date too closely is another bad strategy. No one likes being tailgated. She is going to drive independently and erratically and no, you’d better not ask if she’s impaired by hormones or attempt to take her keys.

Give space to the vehicles around you and allow enough time to respond to a sudden stop or maneuver. Go golfing with the boys once in a while, for heaven’s sake.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the definitive test question of the Driving, er, Dating, Course, proving that the Course itself was a litmus for whether it was passed with pleasant surprise or failed with bitter disappointment:

Are we really choosing between a mindset and a seatbelt?

Lesson 1: Assume the worse in others.

I had my suspicions about this Course all along.

I win.

Road Trippin’

Summer is almost here and the freedom of the open road calls louder each day.

I can drown it out with my lawnmower for only so long and then it’s time for a family vacay.

If you’re like me, the week leading up to a road trip is full of panicky planning and packing, culminating the night before we leave, when I won’t sleep anyway from nerves.

Because I’m pretty sure I forgot something. Major.

Which means I begin our trip already exhausted.

Day One of the road trip begins just as dawn cracks and includes a great many last minute scuffles and false starts before take-off.

The first couple of hours include negotiating music selections, re-organizing personal items, watching the sunrise, and eating the first of far too many disgusting road trip breakfasts.

If Hubby is Pilot, we have it packed so as not to waste valuable road time in a drive through. Beverages are discouraged to keep bathroom stops to a minimum.

This is important to note.

This means NO CAFFEINE was administered to anyone in the car.

Day One is a marathon.

Day One is dedicated to getting as far down the road as possible before stopping. Day One assumes anything within driving distance is already familiar and therefore not worthy for the title “Travel Destination”. Day Two may have something to offer, but Day One is all about sitting in cramped quarters trying to distract yourself through long, straight, uninterrupted stretches of wasteland.

Downtown LA qualifies.

If Texas is between you and your destiny, you know how it feels to be a Road Zombie. If you have driven through the state of California…horizontally…you’ve been a Road Zombie. If you’ve driven past so many crops that you can identify them by smell with the window up, you have been a Road Zombie.

Your eyes get heavy. Your hands no longer feel the wheel. Your butt is numb and your leg wants to cramp if you wiggle your toes. Your left arm is sunburned because, naturally, your road trip has the car turned with the sun in your window. You’re squinting because a million dead bugs blanket the windshield, and once the afternoon rain hits, your wipers turn it into a rich soup that will take a few miles to eliminate, which is barely in time for you to dodge yet another big rig lumbering along ahead of you.

These truck drivers are always happy. You pass them and they seem to say, from their giant seats in the sky, “I have a mini-bar and a bathroom in my truck! I have absolutely no passengers so I can blast ANY music I want from my radio. I can see the speed traps way ahead of time. I can choose my own pace because I am the BIGGEST thing out here on 16 wheels baby. Texas? Big deal. I’m going from Sacramento to New Orleans. Now get outta my way before I blast the air horn.”

And we do.

Once in a while I get startled awake by a motorcycle brigade passing by.

I’ve kept my eyes on the horizon for five hours straight, not once looking in the rearview mirror because I will not only see my kid stuffing a Lego into another kids’ ear, but where I’ve already been.

See it once, shame on them. See it twice, shame on me.

Motorcycles move in a school, like fish. They drive on any part of the road they please, including the shoulder, the center divide line, and your bumpers.

One minute you’re driving along, day-dreaming about the next Motel 6, and suddenly you’re surrounded. Don’t panic. Don’t make any sudden steering maneuvers. They will part fluidly, pass you on all sides and move on down the road, braids flying from under helmets, boots thrust forward in the barcalounger position, much too cool to acknowledge you.

They will get to the Motel 6 first.

Maybe they don’t carry kids and legos, but they have more body parts going numb than I do.

So they’re in a hurry.

Day One ends with a personal vow as I stagger into an uncharted town in the middle of nowhere, face haggard, hair blown into dreadlocks, and a ghastly gleam in my eye.

“Apocalypse happening…first thing in the morning…if they don’t have coffee!”