Keris Stainton‘s weekly column on married life…
When I first decided to learn to drive (about eight years ago), my instructor at the time suggested I go out for practice drives with my other half. So we did. “Change gear!” David said. “What gear?” I said. “Third! Third!” he yelled. “What gear am I in now?!” I shrieked. You see, David didn’t understand that my instructor would give instructions like, “Change from second to third.” Much easier to follow. We only went out to practice together once. I decided he was a bad teacher. He decided I was an idiot.
After a break of about five years – not entirely related to the above, but not entirely unrelated either, I started lessons again. This time my new instructor didn’t recommend practicing with partners, claiming it would lead to divorce.
Even when I could drive without having to be told which gear to change to (or which gear I was in), David persisted in believing I was a doofus as a driver and still wouldn’t practice with me.
And then I passed my test. (Well, then I failed it twice, but *then* I passed it.) By then we had an 18 month old baby and David wasn’t so keen on me driving if Harry was in the car. So if I was baby-free, I could drive. Otherwise David drove. (This means that almost two years after passing my test I have driven on the motorway precisely three times.)
On the rare occasions I drive the car accompanied by David, he drives me mad by wincing, sucking in his breath and, once, shrieking. Honestly, I’m a good driver. He just can’t accept it.
The funny thing is, although thanks to my many (many) lessons, I now know all the mistakes David makes when he drives (he never, ever checks his left wing mirror for one) and I know for a fact that if he were to take his test now he would fail, the stereotype persists that he is a good driver and I am a bad one.
But then I am perpetuating it myself. Despite having to learn where the oil goes, etc., for my test (and after mocking David mercilessly for being unable to answer even the most basic theory questions), he is still the one who checks the water, who fills the tyres and on all but two (two) occasions in the past two years, filled the car up with petrol.
Is it just that women in general aren’t that interested in cars? Or is it the old “why buy a dog and bark yourself” thing? (I mean, if David’s willing to chauffeur me, why shouldn’t I just sit back and enjoy it?) While on the one hand I do feel like I’m letting womankind down, on the other, I’d rather not get petrol on my shoes, if it’s all the same to you.