It was early in the storm. The plows hadn’t been out yet. The ground was solidly white, but the snow seemed light enough to drive on. Besides, it’s New England; we can’t grind to a halt every time it snows. So I bundled up, hopped in the car, and backed out of the garage. I chose the flattest path out of my neighborhood, sensibly avoiding the hills down to Mass Ave., and drove slowly down the street. At the first corner, going slowly, I turned the car to the left and it slid to the right.
Steer into the skid sounds like a simple enough thing to do, but in the moment, who can? It’s so glaringly non-intuitive. Even more compelling is that steering into the skid doesn’t guarantee you won’t hit anything. If skids happened conveniently, the odds of successfully executing the prescribed maneuver would probably be quite high. If, for instance, you were on a track taking a defensive driving course, or you were the only car on the highway, in the middle lane. Most skids, however, are, by definition, inconvenient.
I regularly skid on local streets; narrow streets with cars parked on both sides, bordered by sidewalks peppered with trees. When I skid, my heart stops. In that terrifying moment when my car animates and develops a mind of its own, all I can think is “Shit!” I may instinctively steer into the skid, but I can’t say for sure. It’s over so fast and the relief is so palpable, there’s no room for anything else in my head.
At this point, I have to admit that this piece is screaming to be expanded into a metaphor for life. You see it, don’t you? But that would be so facile. If I did it, you would probably shake your head and say to yourself, “Really? She couldn’t dig deeper than that?” And yet, I’m so tempted I’m practically sitting on my hands to stop myself.
So now what? Remember the story I told about the person who posted a picture of a cat with a pancake on its head to interrupt a flurry of “reply all” emails that should have been sent as “reply” only? I’m feeling a little backed into a corner now and the only thing I can think to do is disarm you all with a similar pictorial non-sequitur. I give you Harper with her head in my Fresca.
Fresca? I thought cats were more discriminating than that. 🙂
Spoken like a Tab drinker.
Thank you, Judy, thank you for not overburdening this skid as a metaphor for life! Sometimes it really is good to resist temptation.
How about an explicit flash forward to the ending of this particular skid? (The sentences that begin at “I may instinctively turn…” can be either the general present tense habit or this particular incident.) Maybe mention a tacky lawn ornament at the corner, or a bush wearing a jacket of snow, and refer to it again after the skid is stabilized. (I guess I’m just demanding explicit gratification of my curiosity here…)
You’d make a fine editor. Next time I’m stuck, I’ll holler.
Sure, but remember that my editing fee is steep. I charge one ice cream sundae per manuscript. If you write another Anna Karenina, we are looking at a 12-scooper at least!
Worth every spoonful.