I learned to drive a stick shift in 1988, when I purchased my second car, a 1989 Nissan Pulsar. Remember the model? It had T tops that snapped off and stored in the hatchback. It was a perfect car for a 22-year-old living in West Palm Beach, Florida. I looked good driving that car to Singer Island, my favorite beach.
My Pulsar was a beautiful metallic green, and, unfortunately, a stick shift. I didn't know how to drive a manual car, but I wanted that car.
And the salesman wanted that sale, so he gave me 10-minute lesson on the clutch and sent me on my way.
I jerked and grinded and cursed my way around South Florida for months, longing for the day when the coordination between left-foot-on-the-clutch, right-foot-on-the-gas, right-hand-on-the-gearshift and left-hand-on-the-steering-wheel became second nature. I'd watch my tachometer and, just as the salesman said, when the RPMs got between four and five, push in the clutch, let up on gas, release the clutch slowly, when you feel the grab, change gears and give it gas. My success gauge was, if my passenger's head didn't thrust forward when I changed gears, I was a smooth operator.
Here I am in that situation again, but this time, I'm the Pulsar and the water is my road.
My sprint triathlon is Feb. 28. I have eight weeks to learn to swim 250 yards.