May 5, 2003

Life is bruising, but never boring

___When my wife, Joanna, picked out her car awhile back, she focused seriously on safety.
___She went car-shopping before armorized personnel carriers and SUVs with side-panel passenger escalators became available to the "buying public." Jo steered away from gas-guzzling, boxcar-chassis behemoths, anyway. But she definitely wanted to feel safe.
___She bought a car with airbags. It has a reputation for winding up less-demolished than other cars of similar cost and size when they're rammed into concrete pillars in crash tests.
___So far, so good. For the most part.
___Nobody's wrecked the car yet, so we don't really know if the airbags work or if the crumple technology would drop the engine in the street instead of in our laps.
___But I never counted on breaking my shins almost every time I climb in to drive.
___The car came equipped with "drop-down, shin-bashing driver-compartment design." Somehow, the part of the car that embraces the steering wheel, instrument panel and dashboard swings down and out where it fits oh-so-snugly to the driver's door. And cracks shins.
___It's not a feature automakers tout on TV commercials. You'll never hear them say, "The all-new 2003 Honker's dashboard breaks the kneecaps off of two out of five drivers."
___But if I don't scoot the seat back before I get under the wheel, I whack my shins.
___This has been confusing, because it's never happened before. I'm about three inches taller than Jo, but her legs are just as long as mine. So, in all the other cars we've owned, we always drove with the same seat settings. Somehow, in this car, she feels she needs to sit up close.
___And I've learned to adjust the seat or shellac my shins.
___Jo's carseat reminds me of marriage: You never stop adjusting.
___I remember when we were newlyweds, and I strained the pulp out of her orange juice every morning. I was confident that when the Lord and I got her trained just right, we'd have the perfect marriage. (Not a bright assumption for a newlywed husband straining orange juice, but I had my newlywed goals.)
___Since then, we've adjusted in thousands of ways. From foods we gave up or learned to like for each other, to who takes the dog out which morning, to who helps the kids with algebra homework and who pitches in on English.
___We've lived in nine homes and kept our clothes in 10 closets, slept on both sides of the bed, (almost) raised two kids, tried an infinite number of recipes, set the thermostat at numerous settings, gone on trips all over the country, laughed 17 million times.
___The French say "vive la diference," and some people think changing spouses is the only way to spice up life. But my wife and I have changed in so many ways over all these years, I can't imagine how life would get boring. Only shin-bruising.

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