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.