Friday, January 29, 2010

Filling the Tank, Emptying Confidence

In only six more days Emma will get her license, one day before her seventeenth birthday.

Realizing that she would soon be driving completely on her own, I decided not to help her make any decisions on Wednesday when she drove us to the Upstairs Studio in La Porte. I thought it would give us both confidence.

Then we stopped at a Shell station to get gas. I handed Emma my credit card. She knew the drill, and I was not expecting any trouble. Suddenly she jerked open the driver's door, leaned in, and shouted, "Help me, Mama! It's not working, and they're talking to me!"

It was windy, and her hair blew wildly all around her head.

"What are they saying?" I asked calmly.

"I don't know! Just help me!"

An uncontrollable urge to laugh overcame me just as I saw a man approach our car, lift the lever on the pump and depart. I breathed a deep sigh and started to really worry about Emma driving on her own.

I couldn't hear whether she regained her composure enough to thank the man who had helped her. She returned to the task at hand, but in a minute she tore open the door again.

"MOM! They're talking to me again!"

I could not answer her. Giant waves of laughter consumed all my oxygen. Another man appeared and pushed the pump handle firmly into the tank opening. Emma finally got the tank filled and returned to the driver's seat, appearing somewhat crumpled. She looked at me, totally humbled, and asked,

"Am I a dumb blonde?"

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