Aunt Lottie came by the house recently. I love Aunt Lottie, who is not really my aunt but a dear old friend of my mother. No one really knows how old Aunt Lottie is because she’s determined no one ever will, but if she hasn’t reached eighty yet, she’s probably closing in on it. But Aunt Lottie’s still in great condition, sharp as a tack and has more life about her than most thirty year-olds.
From my mother’s tales of Aunt Lottie, I knew that she had driven a taxi in a time where many women didn’t even drive. She was once a night club singer, and even ran her own insurance agency, just to name a few.
But as I was saying, Aunt Lottie came by and asked me if I wanted to ride with her to Wal-Mart because she needed to pick up a few things and wanted the company. So I agreed, and off we went.
Now, Aunt Lottie still drives one of those big, old, red Cadillacs. I couldn’t possibly tell you what year it is, but it’s big and roomy inside and has a control panel that looks like a computer console. As we settled inside, I looked for my seatbelt. “Oh, I cut those things out. Didn’t do anything but get in my way.”
“Aunt Lottie, do you think that was a good idea? After all, it is a law that you’re supposed to wear one.”
“Shoot, what they gonna’ do? Ain’t no cop gonna’ put someone like me in jail for not wearing one of them stupid things. Worried me too much. Tried to bring a box home one time from the store, and thing kept buzzing and buzzing. Told my friend Henry to fix it.”
Before I could change my mind about our short trip, Aunt Lottie had already started out the drive and shot up the road. So I braced myself and hoped for the best. Not completely knowing Aunt Lottie’s history, I was beginning to think maybe one of her jobs had been driving race cars. Our trip wasn’t going to take long at this rate.
“Aunt Lottie, don’t you think you’re a little close to that car in front of us?” I asked, a little nervously. After all, I could read the title on the book lying up in their back window.
“Oh, quit worrying. I’ve been driving a long time. Now, tell me what you’ve been doing. How’s that writing thing going you’ve been doing?”
“Oh, it’s great. I’m learning a lot. I’ve been trying to do a lot of different — Aunt Lottie, what are you doing?” Aunt Lottie was turned completely around in the seat, one hand on the steering wheel, and with the other hand, she seemed to be searching for something in the back.
“I know I had a pack of cigarettes in here somewhere. I thought they were on the seat, but maybe they’re in here.” By that time, she had turned back around, had the console open and was looking through a mass of odds and ends stored in the little box. “Where the — “
“Aunt Lottie, you watch the road. I’ll look for your cigarettes. I thought you quit smoking.”
“I did. I quit last week and the week before that. Hey, what the — did you see the way that guy cut me off? I ought to –“
“Aunt Lottie, I don’t think he cut you off. I think you were in the middle of the two lanes. You probably need to choose one or the other.”
“Hey, let’s stop here and see what they’ve got.” Without any warning to the other drivers, Aunt Lottie made a sudden left turn into the parking lot of a building where a number of items had been placed right outside the front entrance. “Looks like they’ve got some good stuff here.”
As the car came to rest in the parking lot, I pried my hands off the dashboard and tried to catch my breath. Aunt Lottie seemed intent on checking out the items in front of the store, and apparently not seeing what she had originally thought she saw, jerked the car back into “Drive” and away we went.
Although I love Aunt Lottie, I was beginning to think this might not have been such a good idea. After all, it had been quite a while since I’d ridden with Aunt Lottie, and my heart had been in better shape back then.
“Aunt Lottie, I know you were going to Wal-Mart, but I forgot something that I need to do this afternoon. Do you think you could run me back home?”
Aunt Lottie looked over at me and grinned, “Sure, kiddo. Don’t bother me. I ain’t got nothing but time. I’ll go later.”
As she wheeled us back down the highway, I realized that Aunt Lottie seldom stopped completely at a stop sign, always gunned the accelerator at a yellow stoplight, and never used a turn signal. Wonder why I hadn’t noticed that before?
Arriving safely back in my own driveway, I just had to ask, “Aunt Lottie, I don’t mean to offend you, but how do you not get a ticket for driving like you do?”
She grinned as she leaned over to the glove box on the dash and said, “I do get tickets. I’ve got a ton of them.” Sure enough, as the she opened the glove box, I saw the mass of paper tickets she had apparently just been tossing in there for quite some time. “Ah, there’s those cigarettes I’ve been looking for,” she said as she popped one in her mouth and lit it.
“Well, goodbye, Aunt Lottie, and thanks for the ride.” I climbed out of the car just glad to be safely at home.
“Good to see you, honey. And you seem a mite edgy lately. I think you ought to get out more.” And with that, she gunned the old Caddy down the drive, and I could almost swear I heard her tires squeal as she hit the main street.