I DROVE A MILE yesterday. It felt wonderful. Tomorrow I hope to drive a bit farther. Soon, I will be driving two miles a day, maybe five on weekends. Already, I think I have felt the driver's high. It's like being a kid again. I hope I can keep it up. It's not easy. After all, I can only get gas on odd-numbered days.
I start the day with exercises. I sit down three or four times to practice sitting in the car and then I grip the back of a chair for a minute or so to practice holding the steering wheel and then I go into the kitchen and push down on the floor three or four times with my foot. This is to get ready for braking. Then I go upstairs and get into my driving clothes.
I wear a nice pair of slacks and a Lacoste shirt and gloves -- driving gloves. There is great dispute among us drivers which is the best glove and all the driving magazines have special glove issues. I now own 14 pairs of gloves, all of them the best. I am determined not to injure myself. I am what is known as a scientific driver.
People laugh at me, I know. I go to parties and everyone is talking about jogging. They ask me what I do in the morning and I say I drive. They sneer. They point their fingers to their temples and make funny faces. Then I tell them how it feels. I tell them about the "high" -- the feeling you get when you hit 35, maybe 40 miles per hour and you have the wind in your hair, the radio on to some rock 'n' roll station, your elbow sticking out the window, your hand brushing back your hair.
"Bitchin'," someone said by instinct.
"Cool," said another.
There is some dispute when the high comes. Some people get it when kicking the car into overdrive and some get it when down-shifting but others get it when taking off fast from a light. This is called dragging and it is severely frowned on by serious drivers as are accessories like rabbits' feet, spinners and little dogs in the rear window with their heads bobbing up and down.
Some people want to hear more. I tell them. I tell them about not sweating. I tell them about how cheap driving is compared to running -- how you don't need special shoes and lots of shorts and all those sweatbands. I tell them how we drivers have our own magazines, too, but how we don't have to eat natural cereals for breakfast. That always gets them.
Then I tell them about how driving is good for you. That's when they really start to pay attention. I tell them how Winston Churchill always drove and he lived to be something like 88. I tell them about Thomas Edison and how he drove and, of course, Henry Ford and Grandma Moses. George Burns drives, I say, and so does Georgie Jessel and Bess Truman and my grandmother. My grandmother, I have to tell you, did not jog. She did not even walk.
Pretty soon I have them hooked. Driving, I tell them, is as boring to talk about as jogging. I tell them how me and my friend, Carl, a writer turned jogger and now a driver, can talk as much about driving as we did about jogging. Our wives are just as disgusted and feel just as much left out. Driving, too, can be a masculine thing. Like jogging, there is always the chance of injury. This interests them a bit.
Still, some people are not convinced. They say that jogging is good for you.I say no. I say look at President Carter. Everyone nods.
Then I say, look at Clark Gable. Do you think he jogged?How about Cary Grant? Heads nod. Errol Flynn? End of argument. Case made. Even the women are interested now.
Pretty soon, everyone is talking driving. We talk about mag wheels and four-barrel carbs and acceleration and that sort of thing. The women roll their eyes toward the ceiling and the men feel wonderful and very little real damage is done.
So I have been driving. I have been doing it slowly, working my way to what I hope will be my five mile drive. I like it a lot. I'm going to write a book about it and recommend it to President Carter. Meanwhile I'm just taking one day at a time. If I stick to it, soon I'll be out of shape again and look the way I did years ago when I did nothing but drive.
Already people tell me I look younger.