Within Close Range: Whiplash Willie

Her eyes barely saw over the dashboard of the ample sedan.

Her nose and belly sat inches from the steering wheel.

Feet barely touching the pedals.

Driving with Nonnie was always an experience which offered passengers both the usual and the unexpected.

The unexpected happened when Nonnie was out of her element, out of sorts, or in a new neighborhood.

When anxious and fearful, but forced to push onward, into the gridlock of Suburban Chicago, the car would charge forward, then turn in a last minute decision.

And I would slide to the other side of the bountiful back seat.

Now a carnival ride, but with nothing to hold onto.

Except the hope that we’d make it out alive


The usual happened when Nonnie took on the dual tasks of driving and gossiping.

She had the particular habit of accelerating while accentuating.

When her speech became excited (Which it did. In every… single… sentence.), she’d press her size-5-foot-in-a-size-4-shoe to the gas pedal.

Causing passengers –  both big and small, in the front seat and the back – to lurch forward.

To compensate for the quick acceleration, Nonnie would then grab hold of the steering wheel, brace herself, and stretching her toes to their very tips…


Repeating the action with each grand inflection.

We used to call her Whiplash Willie. She was an Italian force on four wheels.

Convulsing along the roads.

Reticent yet dogged.

I’d watch her from the back seat.

Her Roman nose in occasional profile, as she spoke to whoever called “Dibs on the front seat!” first.

Pitching forward and pulling myself back.

Smiling at its dependability.

Its absurdity.

At Family.

Author: Anne Celano Frohna

I am a writer, a mother of two girls, Eva (20) and Sophia (18) and wife to one husband, Kurt. I was mostly a professional writer and editor for 30 years for graphic arts and advertising, for publishers of newspapers, magazines, books, etc.,. Now, I have a blog where I post my creative non-fiction, short stories, a couple of illustrated children's stories and a comedy I wrote about two years I spent teaching English in rural Japan (NOT a story for a child.). I’m also working on a new blog about the wonderful, hand-crafted items I've collected over the years at beautyofthrift.com. - which will also connect to the Etsy shop I recently opened called Channeling Nonna. My husband and I both love to cook and to entertain and have welcomed friends and family to our homes for over 20 years. With our eldest off at college, we also began hosting with Airbnb, the perfect (and most natural) way for me to continue to pursue my passion of writing, while at the same time help us pay for current and future college expenses.

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