#67: Don’t Put It In Cruise Control

Remember cruise control? When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and get myself a fancy car with cruise control. I’d set that baby at 75, sit back, and feel like one of the Jetsons.

Well, I now have a car with cruise control. I guess. The fact is that I’ve never used it. My husband has never used it. I even forgot what it was called until I just went out and looked in the manual. The last person I heard of using cruise control was my father-in-law, back in the 90s, and it seemed like a relic even then.

Cruise control is one of those technological innovations that was futuristic until it was suddenly passe. The subject of acting old as it connects to cars and driving can be confusing. Is it older to drive a hot red sportscar or a big old Cadillac? To creep along hunched over the wheel or drive like a maniac?

But when it comes to putting it in cruise control, literally as well as figuratively, the connection is clear. Which reminds me of a joke told today in the writing class I’m taking with the divine Lynda Barry, author of the excellent new book What It Is, who is either the youngest old person I’ve ever met or the world’s oldest living child. Here’s Lynda’s joke:

One day Helen and Mary, two old and aged friends, went out for a drive. They come to a stop sign and Helen sailed right through. Mary was nervous but didn’t say anything. They come to another stop sign, and again, Helen didn’t even slow down. Then they came to a red light, and Helen just kept going, barely avoiding oncoming cars.

Finally Mary had to say something. “Helen,” she said, “why didn’t you stop at those stop signs and that red light?”

“Oh,” Helen said. “Am I driving?”


I’m leaving the fashion and beauty advice to How Not To Look Old. But I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this hair salon I passed today, in case you want a hairstyle that is not merely young or old but otherworldly.

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