Spent the weekend (as normal) in the charming company of the Pirate, who graciously agreed to give up cricket for 2 days so we could hang out in Henley-on-Thames and watch/cheer for the biggest regatta for women in rowing. Bristol entered an 8, a 4, and 3 single scullers. Alas, the 8 and the 4 got knocked out on Friday in the qualifying event, so by the time we got there Saturday at 11 am they had all gone home and were not to be seen. The first of our scullers was eliminated Saturday a.m. as well, so missed seeing her. The next two scullers were eliminated at noon and 1 pm, respectively. And thus it was all over for Bristol. Not one of our women's crews won a single heat. Bah.
So a big disappointment there, but we had a lovely picnic by the riverside (Pirate even surprised me by buying me a whole bottole of Pimms just for me!!! (pretty generous for a tea-totaller -- i guess he really isn't upset about the whole drunken vomitting episode)) with sandwiches and strawberries and pineapple and lovely things to eat. AND we managed to avoid getting rained on all day. So not a total loss. The mud was of Glastonbury proportions, which bothered us not as we had donned appropriate footwear (wellies for me and combat boots for him), but we had great fun laughing at the women in sundresses and cute little high-heeled shoes with bows on them. (Shadenfreude!) Oh, and I bumped into some old team mates from Manchester, which in itself made the day worthwhile. For me, anyway.
With no one from Bristol competing on sunday, and with the P having cancelled his cricket match, there was no need to stay overnight in the B&B we had booked in Maidenhead, so we came home and went back to the Pirate's house for the night.
Sunday was a long, long, loooooong lie-in (crawled out of bed at noon), but we both really needed the sleep.
And then we had the whole day to do whatever we pleased.
This happens so rarely we really didn't know what to do with ourselves. There were no household chores to be done, no projects to be completed...
but I've been asking P for a while to re-teach me how to drive a manual transmission.
Oh Dawkins. What was I thinking???
He was happy to teach me, and so we hopped in the car backwards from our usual seating arrangment. He threw me the keys. I buckled up and turned the ignition.
Let me begin by stating that I havn't driven a manual transmission in 11 years, and then it was only for about a month, to school and back, a trip of roughly 3 miles and speed limit of 40. And I never got all that comfortable with it.
So you can imagine how pleased I was that I pulled out of the driveway very smoothly, with no difficulty switching between the clutch and the accelerator.
It was all downhill from there.
High points include:
- running over a curb with the left front tire because i was afraid of on-coming traffic (fucking narrow british roads) and hugged the left shoulder too closely
- sitting through a light through 5 cycles because every time i tried to pull away i stalled and i only had time to make one attempt with each green light. the person stuck behind me was amazingly patient and never honked once. thank you, whoever you are.
- not being able to find the gear I wanted half the time, and not remembering what gear I was in the other half.
- a hill start. between the three pedals, steering wheel, gear lever, and hand brake, that SIX items to coordinate. For fuck's sake, i've only got 4 limbs!!! That was the moment I decided manual transmissions should simply be illegal. They are dangerous and unnecessary and a hazard and I hate them i hate them i hate them i hate them i hate them.
- being told that everything I was taught by an instructor in driving lessons in America is actually wrong and illegal here and will cause me to fail my driving test so i have to unlearn and re-learn everything i have ever been taught about driving. Aaaaaargh!
After 30 minutes we went home, me in tears and Pirate white-knuckled in the passenger's seat. He said, "I could see you getting more and more frustrated, and I didn't think you could take much more of that."
"I don't think you could take much more of that!" I spat back, spraying snot and tears all over his shirt.
He was a reasonably patient teacher, but I think he would have been much better had it not been his gear-box that I was grinding.
Now, I am a reasonably intelligent person. (Exhibit A: PhD)
I have good large motor skills. (Exhibit B: butt-kicking rower)
I have good fine motor skills. (Exhibit C: I type 80 words a mintue w/o looking at the keyboard)
And I am a good driver. (Exhibit D: I have been driving for 12 years and I have a near-perfect record (one speeding ticket). I even worked as a professional truck driver in downtown Boston, Massachusetts (famous for being the WORST city in the USA to drive in) and never once had an accident or collision. I can park anything anywhere.)
I thought this would add up to me being able to master a stick shift without over much difficulty. Far dumber people than I can drive the blasted things, after all. Surely it can't be that hard!
Man, did my ego take a blow. I have never felt so incompetant in my life. I was absolutely humiliated. That was the worst of it. I was still crying 30 minutes after we got out of the car. When Pirate asked me what was wrong I was forced to confess, "It's just that I'm used to being perfect!" It was only half an exaggeration. I've never encountered anything before (with the notable exception of organic chemistry) that I was unable to do. I felt stupid and frustrated and angry with myself and my own inability to learn what ought to have been a simple task.
"What do you want to do now?" asked the P, hugging me.
"Something I'm good at!" I muffled into his shoulder.
90 minutes later when we got out of bed we decided to take a long walk in the woods and enjoy the cool, green, dampness of the forest. we made note of where the blackberry patches were blooming the most prolifically (with the intention of going back for the berries in 6 weeks' time). and P made some more very suggestive (but non-committal) statements about our future, including our (future) garden and (future) children.
One-year anniversary is coming up in a couple weeks. We'll be celebrating with a repeat of the ball that was our first date, and I'll be in the smashing new black gown he had made for me for my birthday last winter. Stay tuned for details!