He’s driving, but she hits the brakes

On rare occasion, I may make use of an imaginary brake pedal on my passenger side of the car.

If the husband is driving and I think he is too close to the vehicle in front of us, I instinctively hit my imaginary brake. If I sense he is going too fast, I slam on my imaginary brake.

My imaginary brake takes back seat driving and moves it to the front seat. The imaginary brake has never slowed our real-time speed, but somehow it makes me feel better.

Clearly this is not us because we are older than this couple, we do not have a cool convertible and my hands would never be in the air, they would be on my imaginary steering wheel.

I think it is fair to say lot of couples have driving issues. This is never covered in premarital counseling, but it should be. It might even be addressed in the wedding vows.

“Do you take this man for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and behind the wheel of the car?”

We are not alone here. Not to name names, but my sister-in-law Debbie is a, well, let’s just say if you and Debbie were to leave Point A at the same time, she would get to Point B first.

She also drives expediently and efficiently (as the crow flies) in parking lots. She’ll be the one cutting across the lot, coming at you from out of nowhere, in the corner of your blind spot. She is a wonderful person and she and my brother are happily married, although he has nicknamed her Diagonal Debbie.

We all do what we must to accommodate one another’s quirks and idiosyncrasies in the car and not constantly harp and criticize. For some of us, it is using an imaginary brake.

Now, after all these years, I am thinking of switching out my imaginary brake for an imaginary accelerator.

All of a sudden, the husband is driving differently.


Maybe it’s because he worked as a newspaper photographer for years and was constantly rushing to get somewhere—a fire, an accident, a bank robbery, an assignment, or fast food drive through. Because he no longer lives on deadline, he is now slowing down to look at everything that was previously a blur.

“Look at that tree,” he says, slowing from 40 to 30 to 3 mph.

“You mean that 100 year-old-oak that has been there as long as we have lived here?”

Every day is Sunday.

We recently were following one of our daughters and I said we needed to speed up or we would lose her.

“Where is she?” he asked.

“She’s that tiny dot way up ahead.”

“The speed limit is only 30.”

“And you’re going 25.”

“Look at those new homes starting at $380,000,” he said. “You think they’d have bigger yards, wouldn’t you?”

I hit my imaginary accelerator. We are still going 25.

I proffer that going too slow is as great a hazard as going too fast.

He mentioned that a woman tailgated him last week in a hurry to switch lanes, but when both lanes stopped for a red light, he was four cars ahead of her.

He is convinced that his driving is perfect, which is why I now have imaginary dual controls on my side of the car.