‘Have I Hit Anything?’

(not) the Carmichaels (howwedrive.com)
(not) the Carmichaels (howwedrive.com)

The title of this post has been one of Mr Carmichael’s stock turns of phrase for as many years as my daughters can remember and for oh so many years before that. Trust me. I may be the only witness to those journeys from days of yore but the near misses, abrupt stops and loud conversations with strangers who can’t hear him are things not quickly (or easily) forgotten.

Since my husband has now hit something (another story, another time) the, “Have I hit anything? Well, have I?” has been relegated, more or less, to his passive vocabulary. A rapid finger shake and “Oi, you can’t say that anymore” from Yours Truly is usually enough to stop him in his verbal tracks.

Mr Carmichael is not the best driver in the world. I have had cause to mention this fact in previous blog entries. And so it was with some trepidation, on my part at least, that we picked our vehicle up at Palm Springs Airport.

I had overspent and booked an SUV for the simple reason that higher up I would have more chance to see potential disaster from a distance and as, in one sense we would both be driving at the same time, this was a good thing.

The largish size of the car for two people and two suitcases did not stop the Avis rep attempting to up-sell us. It seems she felt that we might be a tad squashed and possibly not as comfy in the allocated vehicle as one she could offer us for just $20.00 more per day.

just about fitted into this behemoth (mrscarmichael)
just about fitted into this behemoth (mrscarmichael)

No thanks, Miss. We’ll struggle through with this ‘lower grade’ offering.

Now, Palm Springs would, I thought, be a great place for Mr C to get his right side sea legs and for me to ease into the stress of private transport. And I was right. I did not even feel the need to take over the helm. Not even once. Our only arguments over directions, finding and re-finding our Morongo Road abode.

But the Monday trip to Los Angeles was never far from my thoughts.

The last time we stayed in Tinsel Town we were en famille and Carmichael père did not instil such confidence. We did a lot of driving and, like mercury, the terror within me grew. I even resorted to sitting in the back leaving directions and the jump seat to daughter #1, a tender teen at the time.

It helped and even the quiet screams I couldn’t contain were muffled by competing  iPods and the satellite navigation system telling us to ‘turn around’.

Having, this time, also refused the Avis kind offer of an extortionately priced navigation device I was wondering how in God’s name we were going to find the hotel if we were lucky enough to find Los Angeles.

Here the iPhone and Google maps came galloping to the rescue and in swooping style will, I predict, be putting TomTom et al out of business any day now. Fantastic, manifique, wunderbar. Oh yes! We got to the Andaz without a fight and before the iPhone 5’s battery ran out.

ah to be young again (mrscarmichael)
ah to be young again (mrscarmichael)

We pulled in behind love’s young dream, handed the keys to the concierge and our bags to Emily (she was very nice) and headed up to our room for a celebratory arrival drink from our own supply.

thank goodness the zip didn't break until now (mrscarmichael)
thank goodness the zip didn’t break in reception (mrscarmichael)

It was all good and, with fear in abeyance, I was looking forward to trips out over the next couple of days.

Driving and navigation sorted what could possibly go wrong?

However good Google maps is it cannot get you to the correct destination if you don’t put the correct destination in, can it? No Sir, no Ma’am it cannot.

Our penultimate day brought the forecast ‘storm’ and our only rain of the whole holiday so we decided to make a quick trip to the Griffin Observatory, just up and behind us atop the Hollywood Hills.

I think it’s about five miles from our bit of Sunset Boulevard. 45 miles, one hour and a half, a diversion for a rather serious accident and one very full bladder later we arrived.

My voice was hoarse from shouting. I confess it was not my finest moment but when your husband of twenty five years suggests you get out and pee beside a wire fence on the hard shoulder in five lanes of standstill traffic shouting is the only option available to a woman of substance.

It took us seventeen minutes and only a little argument over a luncheon venue that I won to get us back to the strip. We enjoyed yummy Italian in Sunset Plaza.

The next day, our last, we managed to drive unaided to Venice Beach for brunch with nary a wrong turn nor a raised voice.

Maybe, just maybe the Carmichaels have got this driving thing cracked. I am optimistic.

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31 thoughts on “‘Have I Hit Anything?’

  1. You in LA; Me and mine on SH1 entering Auckland! Mr T1 conveniently gets tired at the start of the BOmbay Hills, mustering his energies for a non-stop critique of my driving skills (excellent btw) and my sense of direction (also not bad) and general scaremongering in three or four lanes of traffic. He is scared.
    But, I put it down to the fact that it is because you and I, Mrs C, shared the same car and driving instructor all those years ago that we can handle these driving challenges so well!

  2. I lived in southern California for (thankfully!) less than a year. At one point, I managed to sprain my middle finger and was unable to drive for a week. We all know this particular digit is imperative for driving in and around LA 😉

  3. You are so damn entertaining you need to go viral. !!! Directions and the lack there of contributed to the demise of an otherwise meager relationship years ago. I now use SCOUT on my phone and she is my best friend and talks me through every turn almost always with enough advance notice. Sitting in Traffic that does NOT move in NYC for hours has forced me to develop a certain number of techniques regarding voiding fluid in desperate times. : ))))

    1. oooh pray tell. Is it the Shee wee or tupperware? I might have done it it there’d not been the fence. Arn’t men lucky? Well in some things anyway.

      I would love to go viral or even get FPed. Perhaps you, My friend could point WP in my direction 🙂

      I am also doing the Twitter thing now (you can follow that there’s a link) but I have to admit to forgetting to tweet de temps en temp.

      Any thoughts most welcome here in the Shire.

  4. Perhaps you need to carry a Shewee in your bag?

    I admire you hiring a car to drive around LA, just driving through it was enough for me, I almost felt like closing my eyes as the traffic zoomed past me on either side of the 12 lane freeways [shudder]

    1. I get car sick so map reading is only done in mili second chunks.
      Mr C does not believe his wife gets car sick. This lack of belief causes arguments and much high dudgeon on my part.

      Now the iPhone talks the problem appears solved apart from battery life and wrong coordinates.

  5. “I confess it was not my finest moment but when your husband of twenty five years suggests you get out and pee beside a wire fence on the hard shoulder in five lanes of standstill traffic shouting is the only option available to a woman of substance.” That made me laugh out loud (almost to the point of needing to pee too!) Trust me. He’s not the only man in the world to have suggested such a thing…. 🙂

  6. Driving on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country is THE scariest thing I have ever done…actually Mr ET was driving and I, like you, was the panicked passenger. He kept on drifting to the right, to the point where, as we went around a roundabout most of a hanging basket on a light post came in my window and walloped me in the face. This is the reason why we now choose to travel by train when in Europe.

    1. I can understand that decision. Although driving in Rome is hilarious. Every car is so damaged and they just park anywhere!
      I have really mastered Mallorca though and the mastering does make you feel more like a local.

  7. you tell marvellous tales – I can see it all. Mr G drives up to and over the white line so as passenger I have a constant lean to the left with foot on the imaginary brake all the way. I try not to say anything!

  8. I have a bladder the size of a broad bean and Mr Litlove is aware that failing to find facilities for my needs is a divorceable offence. This was something I felt needed to be made crystal clear from early on. I felt you were a brave woman to shout when in such dire straits but then, we’ve been over your bravery before. Thank you for another wonderfully entertaining tale.

  9. Stirs memories from I think 1983, of a less than one hour commute turned into hours, arguing roadside, and eventually arriving at the by-then “Let’s get this over with” destination. I think of him every time that destination is advertised.

    1. Ah Michelle, funnily enough I have 1982 memories (pre Mr C). Then bf would SPEED UP when he din’t know where to go and refused to ask for help. A dangerous combo. One bred for fighting.

      1. Easy to insert “men never admit they are lost” stereotype here. If the shoe fits!… Funny thing is it was our dear Uncle Paul driving, with the two men in the front seat, arguing away, and the show was a sight from the back seat. When it got to roadside “discussion” I realized the shared dna knows no geographical distance.

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