the lost man chronicles
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DRIVER WANTED

Once,
I responded to an ad that read: DRIVER WANTED

Now, I was no Mario Andretti nor did I descend from a long-line of Jeeves, but intuitively I knew a thing or two about driving.

The solicitor agreed to meet me for a few drives to test my skill and our compatibility and soon enough we were driving about everyday together.

Eventually, she tacitly agreed I could be the driver she was looking for, upon two conditions—I would do most of the driving, but not entirely all of it, and I would usually determine where we were going without guidance from her.

I loved driving, so I welcomed this unconventional arrangement. Payment was primarily agreed to be a matter of trading places on occasion—so that every once in a while I got to be driven about myself.

Now, albeit the balance was far from equal, I was ecstatic to concede, for those few times that she drove me were incredibly quirky and spontaneous and new. For somehow she knew exactly where to go to satisfy my nomadic needs, whims and desires.

Indeed, soon enough the fire of our interaction burned brighter than we had intended initially and this led to a endearing companionship of sorts. I’d happily gaze at her from the rear view mirror and see that she was likewise smiling at me.

Admittedly though, at first this made me a little nervous. Because although I had a few other similar driving experiences, I never really fully or freely took a liking to my passenger, most of the time I drove about in silence and watched nothing but the road.

But this time was different. And it was continually and quickly evolving awry from the familiar.

Thus, I was initially a bit edgy about the eye contact and the intimate course that our conversations occasionally detoured upon as we wandered.

However, I eventually realized that the discomfort was not an internal measure of sensation, rather it was by all means imposed. I was essentially taking certain unwritten rules of the road for granted—chauffeurs don’t get involved with those in their care. It’s not right because it could lead to confusion about our roles and that which demarcates the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. I had long known, but without really knowing why, that this was by all means tabou in the world of driving.

To say the least, the difference between my true feelings and those that I was having because I was taught to, were perplexing. And in this state of confusion I confessed to her that I was not sure I could go on driving.

She sighed in reply, and the pleasant crescent of her smile became a straight-line of tight lips for a while as she contemplated our dilemma.

At last, she invoked a passage from one of her favorite writers. And to insure she got her point across, she read two translations of the same passage which were written practically 400 years apart.

First from John Florio's Translation of Montaigne's Essays, which was first published in 1603, she read.

CHAPTER XVI: OF GLORY

I do not counsell Ladies any longer to call their duty honour: vt enim consuetudo loquitur, id solum dicitur honestum, quod est populari fama gloriosum: (Cic. Fin. ii.) 'For as custome speakes, that only is called honest which is glorious by popular report.' Their duty is the marke; their honour but the barke of it. Nor doe I perswade them to give us this excuse of their refusall in payment; for I suppose their intentions, their desire, and their will, which are parts wherein honour can see nothing, forasmuch as nothing appeareth outwardly, there are yet more ordered then the effects.

Quæ, quia non liceat, non facit, illa facit. -- Ovid. Am. iii. El. iv. 4.

She doth it, though she do it not
Because she may not doe't (Got wot).

The offence both toward God and in conscience would be as great to desire it as to effect the same. Besides, they are in themselves actions secret and hid; it might easily be, they would steale some one from others knowledge, whence honour dependeth, had they no other respect to their duty and affection which they beare unto chastity, in regard of it selfe. Each honorable person chuseth rather to lose his honour than to forgoe his conscience.

And then from The Autobiography of Michel de Montainge, as compiled and translated by Marvin Lowenthal, she recited from memory the following:

I do not advise to call their duty “honor.” Duty is the core, honor the rind. Nor would I advise them to bring their honor in as an excuse for their refusal, I presume that their desires and intentions—in which honor is not concerned, since there is nothing to show for them—are even better regulated than their behavior. “She who refuses only because it is forbidden to consent…consents.” It is as great an offence toward conscience to desire as to do a thing. Moreover, these actions are so private they can easily be kept from the knowledge of others—and that is where honor lies. A woman should respect love for itself. And an honorable woman will rather lose her honor than wound her conscience.

*

Her after word flowed as follows:
“You see my dear driver, and quite dear you truly are, our individual conscience should always be the star of our bearings, just as you have driven all these days without any instructions from me and ultimately you have taken me everywhere I, and maybe you, have ever wanted to go. So, you should continue as such even if it drives you nuts, and us upon a journey into the unknown. As two matched souls I know we have grown rather fond of each other’s company, and to me, that is divine. And you, my dear, are welcome to join me in the back seat at any time.

She continued to let her true colors flourish by emphatically stating the following: Throughout life we will encounter a million lame-ass, wise-ass, jack-ass, kiss-ass excuses for everything. It is imperative that one not add to the stable of stinkin’ conditional and, ifs or buts. One should live and love unconditionally. So don’t stop loving someone simply because others impose their conditions upon your sentiments. Those feelings are all yours and you’d be a damned fool to relinquish them to the charge of someone else less informed then the master and commander of these emotions.

The way I see it is that when we are driving we aren’t bothering anybody and nobody should be bothering us, especially when we trust our internal compasses to take us where we’re going. Oh, what joy we have enjoyed when we meander out alone into the serenity of the wilderness or the quiet of the countryside as we so often have done.

So why do you blindly continue to heed the rules of the city when we are not confined as such upon our makeshift country roads?"

Suddenly, I was overcome with the impulse to steer the car to the side and stop to think about what she just said.

And then, instead of driving out again, I slowly stepped out and quickly got into the backseat.


A neat application of cleanser to the interior has been added to my short list of daily duties.




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