Blazing in a Yellow Beetle

I know how to work a stick. Work it right into high gear and get it done. Knowing your way with and around a stick can be an important skill for a girl. Yep, learned my way in a 1971 VW Super Beetle with a hand crank sunroof, droopy headliner and crappy pale yellow paint job.

Hold for a bit while I reach back into the past…oh yes, there it is…The pale yellow mobile classroom where I honed my stick manipulation skills was held together with a mighty prayer and smidge of Krazy Glue.

Anyway, back to the stick shift. Huh? What did you think I meant? Perhaps I might offer you an extra gritty bar of soap complete with embedded hairs to wash the dirty out of that mind? Come over here and let me scrub that mess.

I charted the mostly overcharted roads of my youth with an air cooled engine at my rear, shifting one gear at at time with a less-than-average-level of teenage angst. All the while, managing to keep my dignity only slightly intact while my Krazy Glue import backfired at the most inopportune times.

Oh, let’s see…times like driving past that group of girls in the high school parking lot. You know the girls I ‘m talking about – those with names like Devin, Stephanie or Britney. The girls who also drove imports, only with different letters, like B-M-W, and who held the key to high school success in their artificially tanned and perfectly manicured hands. Or at least, that is how it seemed at the time.

Slipped that stick into second. Bang!

(Oh God, why me?)

Or perhaps pulling in well after curfew or while sleuthing past a certain boy’s house in a promise-I am-not-stalking-like fashion.

Pushed it right into third. Bang!

(Kill me, please.)

You know, most inopportune times.

You would have to have a less-than-average-level of teenage angst to pose for this ridiculous picture.

But there were also times when shredding those gears was absolutely the most sublime form of freedom.

Like when…$2.75 in the tank – pay before I pump, of course. Sun shining. Crank back the sunroof…crank, crank, crank, keep cranking…ok, there. Tuck the headliner so it doesn’t hit me in the face. Adjust rear view mirror. Crap!  Pick rear view mirror up off the floor board. Adjust volume. Sweet Child O’Mine blaring. Hair blowing. Lake in the distance.

All the way into fourth now. Blazing.

Forget automatic folks, working it in manual was and still is the best way to operate. Working the stick gives you all the control, especially when charting course on the overcharted roads of this life. There just isn’t anything new here. All the trials, tribulations and triumphs? Those that blazed before us and the ones who came before them – well they have seen it and done it. Just one big wash, rinse and repeat. But sometimes it sure can seem like new territory.

Blazing in a yellow beetle taught me a thing or two about living life in manual.

Such as when you are stuck and standing still, then shove that stick into gear…easy, easy, you got it now. Very nice.

If speeding along and you should come upon a blind corner, downshift a bit and check it all out. Then just resume and work through the gears one by one. Look around a bit. Nice, right?

Maybe even slip it into neutral and take a little breather. Linger a bit and enjoy. But don’t stay in neutral for too long or you might forget how to push forward altogether.

If you should stall out, it’s not even a worry. Simply put yourself in gear and pop the clutch to get things moving again.

Oh, and sometimes when you throw it all into reverse without coming to a complete stop, the transmission is going to give you a wild banshee sorta scream. You might have to force the stick a bit to back up and set a new direction. Just look over your shoulder, lean into it and go. Whoever said change is easy is most likely a liar or simply a dip shit.

And if you should backfire at those most inopportune times, just forget about it. So your air to fuel ratio isn’t optimal – fuck it. You are still moving forward and all will right itself just around the next corner.

Forget automatic, I know how to work a stick. Learned in a Krazy Glue import.

But sometimes I forget just how good it feels to slip it into gear.



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