Breakfast Smoothie – Personal Adjustment

(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)

Don’t you hate it when one of your friends has some luxury that he complains about?  Like, the sturgeon eggs where not quite up to par last night at the restaurant.

Don Jackson was complaining about his wife to Bob Johnson and I. We were drinking our usual breakfast smoothies around the pool.

“All it takes is one button. All she has to do is mash one button and it will return the seat to neutral. I have a setting that puts the seat where I want it, and she has a setting for where she wants it. When she parks the car she just has to press neutral and it will return there. Is that too much to ask?”

You mean you don’t have to reach under the seat and shimmy forward or backward any more?

“Hell,” said Bob, “catch up, will ya? Even my John Deer tractor in the Berkshires had electronic seat control. Where have you been? What kind of smoothie is this, anyway?”

Pineapple, lime, I told him.

You’ve got nothing to complain about, I said, turning to Don. When I shared a car with my wife, she drove me crazy. She touched every control in the car when she drove. I have no idea how it came to a stop in the driveway. Everything was on. Then she always got out of the car and just walked away. If it were a horse she was riding PETA would have been after her for animal neglect.

If I had to use the car, the first thing that I would notice before I even got in was that both seat belts on the driver’s side were hanging out the doors and dragging on the ground. Who left the seat belt dangling out of the back door? Half the time the door never closed fully because it clanged on the metal part of the seat belt. With the door ajar, the interior light was on and the battery often dead.

Hoping it had not rained because the windows were half way down I would get in, put the key in the ignition (discovering, usually, that her keys were already there, she having failed to remove them and had not yet noticed that they were missing). Then I would turn over the engine.

Many things overwhelm me immediately. The radio is blaring; the air conditioning is on with the fan on full; the windows continue their upward travel interrupted last by the previous driver exiting; the turn signal is on; the emergency blinkers are activated. Of course, this is all preferable to the alternative when she would leave the headlights on and (this was in the days before the headlights go off by themselves) when I turned the key – nothing would happen.

Bringing all of this under control, then I extracted my knees from under the dash by moving the seat back to a normal person position; not by mashing a button, mind you…

“Isn’t this where we came in,” said Bob, attempting to rise to excuse himself.

Sit down and finish your smoothie. That’s only the start. Then I had to put up both sun visors, close the glove box and the storage box between the front seats, and disentangle the floor mat from the brake and gas petals.

Collect the $1.35 in change that’s on the seat under me; adjust the rear-view mirror from “how do I look” to “what’s behind me”; and then decide if I want to empty the front seat trash bag.

We certainly didn’t toss our trash out the window, nor did we throw it on the floor; we very responsibly filled the pint-sized trash bag hanging by the thinnest thread of plastic from the unused cigarette lighter until it was overflowing with seven months of fast food wrappers.

After I emptied the trash, I chased the cat out of the car.

Then, I might be ready to drive the car. No, I don’t have that much sympathy for your seat adjustment problem, Don.

“You sound mighty upset,” said Don. “Don’t you think it is about time you put this sort of thing behind you? Your wife passed away, what, five or six years ago now. I think you’ve probably even got a new car since all of this.”

That was an old car, I admitted. But the hassle stays with me.

I guess I still miss it.

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