By Shawn Murphy
Reading a friend’s post about how his grandma taught him how to work on cars has reminded me of my own grandmother. She didn’t work on cars, but she would drag race the kids on the highway between here and Savannah.
You see, Grandma couldn’t stand it when someone passed her, so she would have to immediately pass them back. It was a sickness, really, she just couldn’t help herself. Usually the other person didn’t really care all that much and would even get a kick out of this little old lady racing past them in the other lane and giving them the stink eye while she was at it. They would just laugh and shake their heads, unless it was a car load of boys from the high school and then it was on.
They knew it was going to be a good time when they spotted Mrs. Wade driving her blue Dodge Coronet down the highway. They would purposely drive up next to her, wave at her smiling the whole time and then floor it, leaving her in the dust. This maneuver would infuriate her. You could feel the air in the car become electrified as she gritted her teeth and squinted her eyes, the veins popping out on her neck.
Then she would stomp on the accelerator, pushing it all the way to floor with the toe of her little pointed shoe. She was a petite woman and her feet barely reached the pedals, but she was what polite individuals might refer to as feisty. We thought she was hilarious and terrifically entertaining as we egged her on with comments like, “Watch out, Grandma!” to which she would reply, “They better watch out for me.”
She would go flying down the road hunched over the wheel mumbling things under her breath like, “Damn teenagers racing down the road like a bunch of baboons, checking their hair in the rearview and not paying one bit of attention to the road…a bunch of slack-jawed, mollycoddled chowderheads, that’s what they are.” Grandma had a colorful vocabulary like that.
We didn’t tell our parents until years later because we didn’t want to ruin the fun. It didn’t even occur to us that we could have been killed or maimed in a horrible accident barreling down the road at lightning speed with an enraged elderly person at the wheel. We were kids and too stupid to know better. That’s why it was so much fun. We would laugh and laugh, all of us except Grandma. She was on a mission.