Barely able to see over the dashboard of the ample sedan, toes stretching to reach the pedals, Nonnie is an Italian force on four wheels navigating the gridlock of suburban Chicago.
Her style is unique – driving with more emotion than convention,
more conversation than paying attention – usually resulting in last-minute lane changes and unpredictable turns, and me sliding (pre-seatbelt laws) from one side of the Cadillac’s bountiful back seat to the other.
When the story she’s spinning is a doozy and Nonnie gets roused – which it usually is, and she usually does – up goes her pitch and its volume, and down goes her tiny, bunion-ed foot on the gas pedal, causing the great, lumbering beast of a car (and all its passengers) to lurch forward.
To compensate for accelerating while accentuating, Nonnie then braces herself against the massive steering wheel and brakes!
Throwing her progeny back against the pristine upholstery.
Repeating this action with each grand inflection.
It’s how she got the nickname, Whiplash Willie.
And why, when I see her begin an earful of a tale to whomever called “Dibs on the front seat!” first, I know what’s coming…
We all do…
Buckling up, I pray the story is short.
And my neck is strong.