the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Today is Tyrant’s birthday, and here is my ode

Over the weekend I rented a car to get from San Francisco International Airport up to wine country, and when the lovely lady at the service desk asked if I’d be interested in a red turbo-charged muscle car, my only question was, “Is it a hybrid?” I mean, this is Northern California. When she said no, I was like, you know, I’m already wearing my raw meat evening gown with the head of a slaughtered free range chicken as a hat. Let’s hope for tinted windows!

I’d never driven a car like that before, and I hate to admit it, but that was one hell of a ride and pretty much perfect for the way I drive: aggressive and unforgiving. I resent speed limits. I hold grudges for days against people who drive slowly in the lane leading up to an exit and then don’t even exit. I want to follow them home and leave a note on their windshield that says YOU ARE RUINING PEOPLE’S LIVES.

Why are you looking at me as if I’m passive-aggressive? I’m a former Mormon. It’s called Righteous Indignation.

I also cannot be in the passenger seat of a car when someone is driving much too cautiously, which pretty much means Tyrant is not ever allowed to drive me anywhere ever again. You would think that someone with the name Tyrant would be all over getting to his destination with vigor and purpose! But he is the exact opposite and cannot even bring himself to change lanes. Ever. OH! And he’s the type of driver who starts to slow down about a hundred yards from a stop sign. I’m breaking out in a rash just remembering this.

We were headed to my sister’s house to take some measurements of her basement for a design project I was working on, and before we had even left the driveway I wanted to call her and say, sorry for the inconvenience, but we’ll be there in about four days, give or take a week.

And then only if I haven’t rolled down the window and purposefully jumped in front of an eighteen wheeler.

It just TOOK. FOR. EVER. And I remember at one point leaning forward unconsciously thinking that by doing so I could generate enough momentum to get us there faster.

Finally my forehead reached the dashboard, and he was like, “Am I making you uncomfortable?” And I almost started to cry because I could tell that in asking me that question he had to balance his concentration between the road in front of him and the words coming out of his mouth, like he was risking everything.

When we arrived… oh wait. We’re still not there. I should call my sister and let her know I’m okay.

  • Badger

    2010/09/22 at 6:27 am

    Many happy returns Drives-like-a-granny-Tyrant x

  • doublebuttons

    2010/09/22 at 6:31 am

    I am the same way Heather. On both counts.

    However, I also get really anxious when others drive like I do when I am in the passenger seat. Feel totally out of control (but that is a WHOLE separate therapy session). So when someone else is driving I like a happy medium. But if I am driving, GET OUT OF MY WAY!

    Happy Birthday Tyrant!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/09/22 at 6:45 am

    Happy Birthday Tyrant! And Godspeed;-)

    ETA: I’m also waiting for a picture of this Peter Pan XTREME haircut.

  • Bush Babe

    2010/09/22 at 6:47 am

    Oh my, oh my… EXACTLY the same thing happens with me. I am NOT a good passenger, but in my mind, an excellent (fast) driver. Dawdling drives me INSANE.

    A lovely friend was helping me get to and from a specialist appointment (I have cranky gallstones) three hours drive away last week. I drove there, and let her drive home. I guess because she was driving my car, she carefully stayed below the speed limit and was reluctant to pass slow vehicles. I was okay (ish) until we got onto gravel when she got SUPER cautious driving slowly around EACH pothole… I gritted my teeth and made small talk for a good ten minutes before (very subtly) offering to drive.

    She said: Aren’t I going fast enough for you?
    And I said: Frankly… no.

    Luckily she has a good sense of humour – and I have some excellent painkillers!

    I think you should start chanting: Are we there yet? Are we there YET?

  • Mini Purl

    2010/09/22 at 7:01 am

    What you need to do is call your local motor speedway and find out of they have classes. For a price they will LET YOU DRIVE A STOCK CAR! I did it at Pocono, a friend of mine did it at Daytona. You will LOVE it!

  • DarStar

    2010/09/22 at 7:01 am

    BWWWAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAAHHAAA. Are we there yet? No. Are we there yet? No. Are we there yet? Yes. Really? No. Happy Birthday Tyrant!

  • cupidgirl21483

    2010/09/22 at 7:13 am

    THIS – “I hold grudges for days against people who drive slowly in the lane leading up to an exit and then don’t even exit. I want to follow them home and leave a note on their windshield that says YOU ARE RUINING PEOPLE’S LIVES.”

    I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I want to park my car on the shoulder & chase them down the highway.

  • Jet62879

    2010/09/22 at 7:20 am

    This post really made me laugh. You nailed it Heather. I didn’t think I could laugh about the pain I feel with those kinds of drivers but you made it happen.

    Also, as a side note, I had completely forgotten about your design blog for HGTV, and now I need to go catch up on the last 4 or so posts. Maybe you can tweet every time you put a new post up there? I look forward to reading.

  • Kristi

    2010/09/22 at 7:25 am

    This made me laugh so hard! I am exactly the same way with driving. I cannot STAND slow drivers and I am a totally obnoxious bitch when I’m behind one. And there are plenty of those people in rural Georgia. UGH!!!

    Even so, I love Tyrant and I think he’s good for you. Happy Birthday, Tyrant!

  • doobrah

    2010/09/22 at 7:35 am

    You know, enough wine cures everything. And you just came back from Napa. Give Tyrant the keys, and you get liquored up. Then make like the little piggy in the Geico commercials. WEEE! WEEE! WEEEEEEEEE! Toy windmill optional.

  • LizC

    2010/09/22 at 7:45 am

    I feel your pain. Every morning and evening my commute home is beset by people who do not know how to use an exit ramp. So they stop traffic, in the middle of a thru lane, until someone lets them over which is why traffic gets so backed up. Because people are stupid.

    I have a friend who doesn’t have a problem passing people but as soon as she passes someone she’ll immediately move back into the slower lane even if she sees a semi up ahead and knows she’ll have to just move over again. Drives me nuts.

    My sister doesn’t like to ride with me because I yell at all the other drivers. And, you know, occasionally I roll down my window and flip them off but that’s only when they’re assholes to me first. I used to be a much more nervous passenger than I am now, though, so I consider that growth.

  • aslapintheface

    2010/09/22 at 7:51 am

    You should ride with a man who drives a firetruck for a living. He CANNOT understand why people won’t get out of his way when he is in our minivan. HOLD ON KIDS – DADDY’S GOING TO HIT THE HORN AND RUN SOME RED LIGHTS !!

  • bandpma

    2010/09/22 at 7:54 am

    Hahaha…Happy Birthday Tyrant! Is he 80 today? BTW, we share the same birthday…just not the same driving habits.

  • karmadarling

    2010/09/22 at 8:00 am

    Oh Tyrant, I drive just like you! But at least I have the good sense to warn people and to drive as little as possible.

    Happy Birthday!

  • Katie Kat

    2010/09/22 at 8:08 am

    Okay – Tyrant and my husband must have been separated at birth, because this is the hell I live through EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND! My hubby refuses to let me drive because he says I’m a “crazy” driver… what? I am an ASSERTIVE driver that just wants everyone else to get the HELL OUTTA MAH WAY! My most common phrase in the car is “I wish I had a rubber car” – I’d just head butt everyone to the side. HE, on the other hand, drives like an old man on methadone with Alzheimers (I don’t even know what that means). AAAAACK!!!! I’m so there with ya sistah!

  • labradoris

    2010/09/22 at 8:09 am

    So, is there a finale to the basement renovation?

    Happy Birthday, Tyrant!

  • gcostaki

    2010/09/22 at 8:14 am

    You should have run over some old people. Since the car was red you wouldn’t see the blood.

  • Fifi Coon

    2010/09/22 at 8:49 am

    So – my husband drives like a grandma on the way to anywhere we are going – then drives like a maniac on the way home…………..makes me completely insane – especially because I am such a good driver!!! Just ask me :o) and where are the pictures of the new haircut???

  • ERStolpe

    2010/09/22 at 8:53 am

    Happy Birthday, Tyrant!
    Granny drivers…I need a therapy session for every time I am a passenger beside one.
    That’s why I drive.
    All the time.

    ps – did the wildfires affect you and yours in any way? I was thinking of you.

  • The Prima Momma

    2010/09/22 at 8:55 am

    Happy birthday Tyrant!

    Heather – you would LOVE driving with my husband. It may very well be a life changing experience.

  • spedrson

    2010/09/22 at 8:56 am

    My husband drives just like Tyrant! He refuses to drive even 1 mile over the speed limit. He wasn’t always like this. Around 5 years ago he got a HUGE speeding ticket and my life has been forever changed. It kills me to ride with him while everyone is zipping past and glaring at us.

  • jacqueline

    2010/09/22 at 8:59 am

    Happy Birthday, Tyrant!!

  • m2h

    2010/09/22 at 9:13 am

    OMG, I used to be Tyrant behind the wheel (then I got older and figured I had lots of stuff to do before I died). During a cross-country roadtrip, I got pulled over in TN for going too slow. The trooper told me to “speed it up” and keep up with traffic. Talk about making a nervous driver hysterical. So after that, every time I saw a cop checking speeds at the roadside, I’d grit my teeth and put my foot down, accelerating past him with white knuckles and sweat running into my eyes.

  • mhsqrd

    2010/09/22 at 9:17 am

    Happy Birthday, Tyrant. Also, don’t ever come to Houston. You WILL NOT SURVIVE if that’s how you drive.

  • reymiland

    2010/09/22 at 9:24 am

    Don’t make fun of us “Drives like Granny when she was 94” people. At least I don’t drive down the road with my left turn signal on for 37 miles.

    We “Grannies” are a tough but sensitive bunch!


  • lisdom

    2010/09/22 at 9:35 am

    I swear every time you post lately, it’s about something I can totally relate to. Let’s just say that it’s time for me to probably have another break job on my car. I’m pretty sure I have them done every two years. What? That’s not normal?

    M2H: What that cop did to you is my #1 driving fantasy. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pull people over for driving too slow. Instead, if someone is driving under the speed limit and there are no cars in front of them, I have resorted to honking at them. It’s terrible, I know.

    But seriously: all you slow drivers just need to live in cities with public transportation. that way you don’t have to drive, and you won’t incite so much road rage in the people who just want to get where they’re effing going, for goodness sake.

  • lisdom

    2010/09/22 at 9:36 am

    Oh, and happy birthday Tyrant. =) I personally think we deserved a nice picture of him to go along with this post.

  • ShainaLoves

    2010/09/22 at 9:52 am

    GAH just reading about the tyrant’s driving has me feeling physically uncomfortable. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. i am a Masshole and proud of it…i WILL make that yellow light, i WILL cut you off if you’re going slow, i WILL drive a few miles in the fast lane just to go above 65…GRAR.

  • Annon

    2010/09/22 at 9:58 am

    “…I remember at one point leaning forward unconsciously thinking that by doing so I could generate enough momentum to get us there faster.”

    How can I send this anonymously to my husband?

  • aussome1

    2010/09/22 at 10:01 am

    First – Happy Birthday to Tyrant! Hope you have a great one!

    Second – Heather your post made me laugh at loud!! I am the EXACT same way so to fix my problem my husband bought me a jacked up 4×4 Suburban with a huge push bar on the front and dared me to push someone out of my way! Mind you, I haven’t yet but when I get behind the slow pokes they seem to quickly gravitate to another lane! Maybe y’all should all try this!! It works well for me and the slow pokeys!!

    Loved the post!! Let us know when you make it to your sister’s house…also what was the red muscle car you had this weekend?

  • Mama M.

    2010/09/22 at 10:05 am

    Well, when you do get there…could you please have your sister, or Tyrant (if he’s still alive) take a picture of your new haircut? I’m dying to see “PETER PAN XTREME”! (Which, btw…totally makes me think that you now look like Michael Jackson. See why I need a photo?)

  • lisdom

    2010/09/22 at 10:11 am

    Maybe all I’ve needed this whole time is a big scary truck. I don’t think my 1992 Honda Accord inspires fear in anybody.

  • A Seattleite in Paris

    2010/09/22 at 10:35 am

    You sound like my kind of driver. 🙂

  • tallnoe

    2010/09/22 at 10:40 am

    Those drivers make me INSANE!!! I feel your pain, Heather. 😀

    And in LA – they’re TERRIBLY HORRIBLE!

  • LizC

    2010/09/22 at 10:40 am

    Lisdom: I do the same thing if people are driving too slow, meaning I make judicious use of my horn. And, um, I’ve also occasionally done it on the interstate if they’re in the fast lane going the speed limit or below and it’s impossible for me to get around them because there are people in the slow lanes going slow. I think the people who go slow in the fast lane probably irritate me the most. It is called the fast lane for a reason!

  • mommica

    2010/09/22 at 10:44 am

    Well, they are. Ruining people’s lives, I mean. I have similar issues with stupid drivers who aren’t me…

  • nadaliem

    2010/09/22 at 12:04 pm

    Hahaha Heather, I feel your pain! I am the same way when sitting shot-gun! Happy birthday to Tyrant!

  • adamsrice

    2010/09/22 at 12:07 pm

    Never never never never drive around Portland. Resisting the urge to rip off heads and shove them down neck is easier when I remember that headless drivers would be the only thing worse than how they drive now.

  • thatgirl2478

    2010/09/22 at 12:36 pm

    Bad drivers and bad parkers make me crazy. I’ve been known to leave notes badly parked cars. My favorite so far was ‘Your parking job makes Baby Jesus cry.’ conveniently written on a pamphlet handed out by our friendly neighborhood Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Some how I think they’d approve.

  • luckymom22

    2010/09/22 at 12:38 pm


    “Speed Kills – The faster the speed of a vehicle, the greater the risk of an accident. The forces experienced by the human body in a collision increase exponentially as the speed increases. Smart Motorist recommends that drivers observe our 3 second rule in everyday traffic, no matter what your speed.”

    I can’t laugh at today’s blog post. There have been too many tragic deaths on the road around here lately involving either families I care about or local teens. I’m no grandma, but I don’t think it’s cute the way everyone is chiming in and saying “oh, me too! I hate slow drivers too! Me too! Me too!”

    The fact is that when something goes wrong on the road (which it often does) those of you who drive too fast and are excessive lane changers do not have time to make the corrections that could save lives. If we all drove as if our children were in the car AHEAD of us, the world would be a better place. Someone’s child IS in that car.

    Kudos to you, Tyrant.

  • Phoebe Fay

    2010/09/22 at 1:05 pm

    Happy Birthday, Tyrant!

    I don’t actually object to slowish drivers… as long as they stay in the right hand lanes where they belong. Problem is, some of them get over into the left hand lanes and then proceed to go below the speed limit. Below!?!? Why? I don’t know. If you are in the far left lane (also known as the *fast* lane), be prepared to go at least 10 mph over the speed limit or get the #%$@ out of the way!

  • judealoo

    2010/09/22 at 3:21 pm

    I’m like doublebuttons up top!

    But, I once was a passenger in a car driven by someone who liked to go really fast. We were “caravanning” with someone like Tyrant (Driver #1). It was a 2 lane ocean-front road and lots of people started piling up behind us so the driver of my car (Driver #2) slowed down (while fuming at Driver #1) so cars could pass. This caused Driver #1 to slow down further because he thought he was going too fast for Driver #2.

    It would have been comical if not so tragic. It’s a miracle Driver #2 didn’t have a heart attack from fury! Note, this was before cell phones so we couldn’t tell Driver #1 we’d “catch up” later . . . or berate him for going so slow . . . cell phones have made some things less stressful. 🙂

  • DarStar

    2010/09/22 at 6:31 pm

    Okay, seriously people. Just because someone in the “fast lane” isn’t going as fast as you, doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be there. As long as they are there for the purpose of passing someone going even slower than them. OR, is everyone just supposed to stay the hell out of the “fast lane” to leave it open for the speedsters all the time. If that were the case, we’d have quite a pile up in the “slow lane”. Nothing irritates me more than when I’m passing someone and already going a bit over the speed limit, and a speedster comes up behind me riding my tail. Are they trying to intimidate me so that I speed up and pass quicker? Not gonna happen. They can wait their turn.

  • KatR

    2010/09/22 at 6:38 pm

    I so wanted to roll down my window and yell at someone today, but I always have to remember that I live in the South, where people are both heavily armed and batshit insane.

  • sarahfromthenorth

    2010/09/22 at 7:26 pm

    Best day ever for a birthday .. it’s mine too!!

    Happy Birthday Tyrant! And hey .. on the positive side, you get to LIVE on your bday .. keep up the awesome safe driving :P!

    Sarah – A Quebec driver by birth, and proud of it! (Montreal)

  • OldBAM

    2010/09/22 at 8:55 pm

    I drive an AWESOME 1989 Trans Am. I also HATE my husband’s driving. To the point that I find excuses to not ride with him because I’m pretty sure I will DIE from a gunshot wound from some other driver he’s pissed off.

    Oh, BTW, Happy Birthday, Tyrant!!

  • apostate

    2010/09/22 at 9:16 pm

    The thing about righteous indignation made me laugh.
    I must be an agressive driver, because I’ve started saying “beep beep” as an alternative to honking my horn so much. I do this to be a better role model to my children.
    Well, today we were stuck in construction and my 3 year old started saying “beep beep! beep beep!” When we finally cleared the intersection, she said “Mom, I made the light turn green for you!”

    If I’m ever the godess of my own planet, the only sin will be bad driving. Probably not gonna to happen now, but…

  • jalla

    2010/09/23 at 1:43 am

    I’m with Tyrant! Granny driving all the way, yeeeah! Happy birthday 🙂

  • AshesVonDust

    2010/09/23 at 1:18 pm

    Happy (belated) birthday, Handsome! 😀

  • They made me choose a username

    2010/09/23 at 1:38 pm

    I had assumed Tyrant was a nickname or pseudonym. I figured you must call him that because he bosses you around.

    My sister used to get loudly impatient with my driving, and this would be after she had begged me for a ride. I thought, “Hey, this is a lot faster than walking.”

    These days I have my husband do the driving if we need to get somewhere in a hurry, though.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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