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YOUNG EYES

Extreme anxiety can be caused by living with a mother who viewed an

automobile as an item of entertainment rather than a convenience.


Extreme anxiety can be caused by living with a mother who viewed an

automobile as an item of entertainment rather than a convenience. The whispering pink

giant with a monster front was her 1958 pale-pink Cadillac convertible. This behemoth

car had exceptional importance in her life and she drove as if to say, “I’m moving you –

period.” My mother would also have lain before an eighteen-wheeler rather than wear

eyeglasses. She said she had “young eyes.” Her visual perception remained fog-like at all

times as she squinted at the road. My role as a child was to sit patiently in the back seat

behind her gold-sprayed coiffed hair and pray. Pray for whatever destination we were

headed and to arrive with all body parts intact. It was my destiny to be shanghaied by my

mother in the back seat of her car. And hostage I was.


In retrospect, mother’s hair was the future airbag as we know it today, so I was quite safely equipped.

This lacquered, gold-sprayed hair would act as insulation should

impact be extreme. Mother was the only driver in the family. My grandmother had the

pleasure of owning the assigned passenger seat. Luckily, her tightly-woven, platinum wig

protected her and I as well. Only I, with a few threads of a ponytail, was at risk. And my

quiet, bald father, was always absent of any verbal activity and sat in the back with me.

We both placed our safety into the sheathing of the wigs in front, simply closed our eyes,

and hoped for the best.


The only necessary items of interest on the dashboard, according to my mother,

Lil, were the cigarette lighter and radio – the lighter, for firing up Viceroys, and the radio

for belting out show tunes. Loud, earsplitting show tunes. Traffic lights were non-existent

for mother. Her denial of the color red combined with a clinical diagnosis of narcissism

and an angry temper were the recipe for disastrous, unexpected consequences. Possibly

death. These consequences were not only reserved for the family, but strangers had the

pleasure as well, particularly those waiting at bus stops or those in the wrong place at the

wrong time. When the pink Cadillac stopped suddenly, thirsty for gas, painful hernias awaited those unsuspecting creatures on the street that were asked to push. God help you if you were waiting for a bus. Forget the bus, you were pushing. There was no choice

here. Wide as a flat-screen plasma TV, the dashboard’s bells and whistles were useless

items for my mother. Climate control: no problem. Her raging temper kept the A/C on the

highest setting. Passenger compartments, capable of seating four adults, served as a

boudoir overflowing with Mardi Gras costumes, fabrics, and sequins. There was still

plenty of room for adults, dead or alive. “Don’t ask me questions. Just sit and shut up and

leave this shit to me. Don’t be so goddamned scared of life. Whatsa matter, you think

your mother can’t see?!” I never said a word.


Big, bold, and pink, this vehicle only owned the butt marks of my mother in the driver’s seat. Diva hair bobbing in the front seat, her driving rules were indelible: road shoulders and neutral grounds became a lane; people were to be completely disregarded and ignored, possibly disfigured for life; any lane was good; if you missed an exit, don’t worry-just cut across lanes of traffic and drive over the divider. Remember never use turn signals. Totally forget oncoming traffic can occur at anytime. And, most of all, have an intimate relationship with your horn. BLOW that baby!!!


Her young blue eyes piercing at the road, places, appointments, people to see,

schmoozing, and meetings organized around martini lunches were all the driving force

behind the pink Cadillac. The pink monster became a familiar sight in New Orleans.

Jump-in thrill seekers, anything is possible. If it happened to be Mardi Gras Day,

remember that pink Caddy barreling down Bourbon Street – yes, that one, the one that

barges though the street always cut off to traffic. There she goes, gold hair glistening

from afar, non-descriptive legs and arms attached to the front as human hood ornaments.


Forget caution tape in the French Quarter; it only gets in the way. Light up a Viceroy,

turn up the volume, Lil is on the road. With her young eyes.


It was never that unusual for my mother to bump into someone crossing the street,

particularly if it was a slow-moving human. “Get out the way, you stupid ass. Move it!”

Once, it was a small, Mexican woman cursing in Spanish who knocked on the car

window after being hit by my mother. “You loco bitch!” the woman screamed. Mother

continued back on the narrow main street, zig-zagging around other cars, her forehead

drenched in sweat. Lil was in heaven, skirting around the traffic. One time she drove

through a parking lot with one-way steel barriers, blew out all four tires, and continued

riding on the rims. “Screw this,” she howled. “We need to get something to eat. After

that, I’ll find some asshole underneath the overpass to fix the tires.” This is how we lived

with my mother driving. All decisions were made on the spur of the moment; we prayed

and never looked out the window. My mother’s blood pressure normally rose after dark

and glowed brightly in the worst, crime-ridden neighborhoods. Our car was filled with

the perfect victims, my family. What criminal would not be interested in my mother, the

driver in sequins, my grandmother in the front seat with the platinum wig, fur coat and

sparkly jewelry, my bald, quiet father and me, the child, in the back seat?


I learned just to look down at the floorboard and pray to The Goddess.


Did you enjoy this short story written by Cindy Small? If so, subscribe to our Blooom newsletter to receive more stories, and wellness tips directly to your inbox!




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