Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Pirndle

[ the third of three related posts ]
Driving home, I remembered a story my brother told me about the secret rocket abilities of my mom’s station wagon. According to Todd, the capabilities were hidden in the pirndle. The pirndle, of course, was the stick Mom moved to make the car, its name clearly demarcated, I realized in retrospect, on the car itself. P for “park,” R for “reverse,” N for “neutral,” D for “drive,” and L for “low gear.” Pirndle. According to Todd, the wagon could blast off rocket style by toggling a secret combination in a specific order, one gear to the next. Todd wouldn’t tell me, of course, but I totally believed that such a thing actually existed.

Before today, I never really thought about it again, so I never really realized the inherent impossibility of the pirndle. Good thing, too. If I had ever tried to activate the pirndle’s secret abilities — even, say, today while I was jetting down the 101 at an average speed of seventy-five miles per hour — I would have thrown the Mustang out of drive, into neutral, into park, into reverse, back into drive. I’m not sure exactly what that would do to my automobile, but I’m pretty sure maintaining either my course on the road — or my status as alive, for that matter — would be hard.

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