There is evil in the world. You don’t have to look too far to find it, actually. I only had to go as far as my own garage. All this time that I’ve been in love with my car (and I do love my car), it’s been quietly festering a hatred for me. And maybe it’s not the entire car that hates me, but for sure the GPS has a desire to see me dead. Recently, it came pretty close to getting its wish!
One night last week I went to a meeting near downtown Houston. I plugged the address into my GPS, believing naively that I’d take the most direct route to my destination. My GPS, however, thought we’d take some crazy joy ride through some weird side streets and loop around through a few neighborhoods before we got to the destination. Since I definitely had somewhere to be, I thought this wasn’t really the time for a nasty confrontation with my car, so I bit my tongue and followed directions.
That was my first mistake. My car now realized what a mushy pushover I could be. When I come out of this meeting, it’s late and dark. I tell the GPS to take me home because I’ve gotten so turned around getting to this place that I’m not completely sure how to get back out. That was my second mistake.
My GPS, hell-bent on taking me down the Trail of Transportation Terror, sends me through parts of Houston that only a truck-mounted automatic assault rifle would make me feel good in. The GPS told me to turn on streets I’d passed two blocks before, to go the wrong way on one-way streets, and to turn onto streets that didn’t even exist. My car had decided I’d suddenly developed a crystal meth habit and needed a dealer, that it was time to make a few bucks “the hard way,” or it just wanted me dead. Those were the only possible reasons it was doing this to me.
I finally made it home in one piece, and I’ve managed to forgive my car. We all have those moments when we go off the grid. But I’m smarter now. Not only do I own a paper map, but I can read it and fold it. Take that GPS! Now who wins?!
As I have just recently graduated my last child out of public schools with no interaction with CPS, the court system, or Federal Law Enforcement Officials, I feel I have credibility to pass along advice to parents coming along behind me. While I believe that half the fun of parenting is discovering new and better ways to screw up your kids and ruin their lives, these are tips to keep them from screwing up yours.
Big Parenting Mistake #1: Teaching your children to mow the yard. Do this and you’re setting yourself up for disaster. After a couple of summers, you’ll be fat and lazy, sitting on the porch with an ice cold watching them work like rented mules. Next thing you know, they’ll graduate from high school and go to college, leaving your much older, fatter, lazier self alone to push the mower. Don’t think you’ll pay the neighbor kids to mow because you’re paying college tuition, so you can’t afford those things.
Do not let your children learn to drive. Driver’s training is Big Parenting Mistake #2. Sure, those first few times they run to the store for you on their own is great, but then they start realizing they have freedom. This is a dangerous thing in a child. Suddenly, it will occur to them that they can drive other places besides the store, like out of state. Then one day they get in the car, drive away and don’t come home to mow the yard. That’s going to hit you especially hard if you’ve already screwed up and made Mistake #1. Plus, they took your car.
Have you allowed your children to start becoming free-thinking, independent people? Wow. You’ve just made Big Parenting Mistake #3. This almost completely guarantees that your children are going to screw up your life. Count on them wanting to think for themselves, be independent and not stay home to mow your yard. Probably with your car.
Children with no skills, ambition or transportation are more likely to stick around and take care of you in your old age. They’ll gladly heat frozen pizzas, apply bunion cream and pluck the hairs out of your withered, old chin until you die. And with the money you save not paying college tuition or financing a new car, you can pay someone to mow your yard.
The most popular question I get asked about living in the Middle East is: Aren’t you afraid being over there?! Well, yes, I’m afraid! But it isn’t because there are lunatics in the country next door committing barbaric crimes of inhumanity. I mean, yes, that’s terrifying regardless of where you live, but that isn’t what scares the bajeebers out of me here. I have more immediate terrors.
Living where I do, I’m afraid of things like scorpions and camel spiders. I think they’re called camel spiders because they’re so big, they actually hunt and eat camels. Whole. Without chewing. If you think I’m exaggerating, Google them. In my opinion, spiders should never be larger than the shoe that squashes them. They should not be able to put on four pairs of your husband’s shoes and wear them out.
I’m afraid of driving. Not that I can drive, so let me clarify: I’m afraid to be in a car on the roads here. I’m more likely to be killed by some maniac driver behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia than I am by a member of ISIS or ISIL or ISwhatever. These are people who take the term “freeway” literally, as in “free to drive in whatever ridiculously unsafe, unpredictable, unharnessed way I want.” I had never considered the dashboard when looking for places to set down my newborn while driving 100+ mph on the left shoulder, but okay. Maybe there’s not a word for “projectile” in the Arabic language.
I’m probably more afraid of heat stroke than I am of terrorists. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find my favorite cereal at the grocery store, even if it’s $8.37 and expiring in two months. I’m afraid of the five pounds I put on every single time I go back to the US because I’ve been deprived of those chocolate chip cookies at Chick-fil-A for so long that I lose my ability to reason and start justifying buying them by the dozen. I’m afraid they’ll close the gym where I live and I’ll be stuck with those five pounds forever.
Otherwise, I’m pretty safe where I am. Watching the news, sometimes I think I’m actually safer here. The world can be a scary place anymore. And camel spiders certainly aren’t making it any easier to sleep at night!
Push the seven deadly sins aside! Forget about unspeakable crimes against mankind! Iran, Iraq and North Korea are no longer the Axis of Evil! The true source of evil among us has officially been declared … women drivers. According to the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, the matter of women driving cars must be “considered from the perspective of protecting society from evil.” HA! I knew it!
It’s not just annoying to have some woman in front of you at the intersection putting on mascara long after the light has turned green, it’s a portal for pestilence. Giggly girls gabbing on the cell phone instead of paying attention to traffic is eroding the moral fiber of humanity. And don’t even get me started on the eternal damnation we are all being condemned to because women don’t know how to change the oil, check the tire pressure or use a turn signal! All of which is easily avoided by simply prohibiting women from driving. Can I get a kumbaya and an amen from the balcony?
You may recall that our friend, Mr. Abdullah al-Sheikh is the same guy who pointed out that driving would damage women’s ovaries as an argument about allowing them to drive earlier this year. I’m barely coping with the shock and dismay of the reproductive ramifications I’ve inflicted upon myself from years of Toyota time and now I have to accept that my car keys have unlocked uncounted evil into the world. It’s almost too much to bear.
I’m not completely sure that the most senior cleric’s words are getting past the veils of the Saudi women and soaking into their heads, because the push for the right to put the pedal to the metal continues. It obviously wasn’t enough for them this past spring that they were finally given the right to ride a bicycle in public. As long as it was only for entertainment. In a park. If they’re accompanied by a male relative. And dressed in the full abaya and veil. Okay, a burkha on a bike is going to be entertainment no matter which way you look at it, but a burkha in a BMW is a whole new kettle of fish.
If the protests continue and the issue is pressed, I can only expect the Sheikh to tack on another terror. Global warming, the failure of ObamaCare, Honey BooBoo … yup, all because somewhere there are women driving!
Stand back, my ovaries could explode. Okay, maybe not right this second because I’m safely sitting in my office chair. However, should I get into the driver’s seat of any car and actually operate a moving vehicle, I could be seriously damaging my ovaries. And it’s not just me, this applies to every woman who drives. You think I’m kidding, but this is the gospel truth because Shaikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, one of Saudi Arabia’s top conservative clerics said so. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know for sure, but I think he said it in total seriousness and without laughing. So it’s has to be true.
According to Mr. Saad al-Lohaidan, women who drive are posing a serious risk to damaging their ovaries and bearing children with “clinical problems.” I’ve been driving for the past 35 years. Considering you can’t get anywhere in Texas without driving a long way, that’s a whole lot of driving. My ovaries probably look like a 10-car Katy Freeway pile-up on Monday morning. However, it does explain a lot of things about my kids, like why my 14-year old can’t put his dishes in the dishwasher or take out the trash. Obviously, I drove him to these shortcomings! I can now only blame myself. And Toyota.
Truth be told (although why start now?), this statement was made in an effort to keep the status quo here in the Kingdom that women are not allowed by law to drive. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world with that law. Women are legally permitted to own the car, but just not drive it. Don’t get too upset, now: They can pilot an airplane. They just need someone to give them a ride to the airport.
Come October 26th, though, there may be a few more pink Cadillac’s cruising the highways and camel trails of the desert, because the word on the streets is that the girls are grabbing the keys and protesting the ban. The idea is to drive the men crazy until they let the women drive cars. Makes sense, but it could mean a hefty fine and even jail time, so they’ve been told by the Sheikh to put “reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions.”
And really! Think of your ovaries and your unborn children, ladies! Womb before Wheels! Kiddies before Keys! It makes perfect sense. At least I guess it must make sense to Shaikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan. But lets see what he thinks after October 26th!