Surely you've clutched the side of your seat as he roared down the driveway. Aaron Traister explains the male need for speed. REDBOOK.
Cars hold a special place in the imagination of the American man, even ones who, like me, feel like they're trying to read a book in braille when they open the hood.
I'm a laid-back guy who enjoys hunkering down with the paper on the train, but when I drive I take on a weird, type A personality. Why do men have this near-Pavlovian response when we get behind the wheel? It bewilders my wife, Karel, and you too, I figure. I'll try to explain what's going through his mind as he drives, but be forewarned: My only car is a 2003 Honda Element, so it's going to be a bumpy ride.
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"We're making great time"
These words are like a narcotic, stimulant, and aphrodisiac to a man. Once someone has uttered them, the car will begin to move faster, his focus will deepen, and the need to make even better time will set in. It's like whenever men go on a road trip, they are trying to defeat the space-time continuum. I want to do a 12-hour trip to Florida in nine hours, a 90- minute trip to New York City in 45. I want to get from point A to point B in an amount of time that stuns people. I want them to know I chose the best route, took the fewest breaks, and generally whupped a long-hauler's butt. I have a fuzzy image in my head of people celebrating at our destination-they're creating epic poems and lighting bonfires in my honor, and Karel is wearing some sort of minimalist cavewoman costume. In my fantasy, she is as excited as I am, and we put the extra time to good use. In reality, she, and you, may be less inclined to celebrate, since we ignored your pleas to pull over so you could pee, and when you finally convinced us that you couldn't hold it anymore, we grumbled because you were jeopardizing "the great time we were making."
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"I'll keep driving… forever, if necessary"
I recently road-tripped with two buddies from Philly to northern Maine for a gentlemen's long weekend in the woods. It's a 12-hour drive and we had four days, so to maximize our camping time, we woke up at 4:30 a.m. and hit the road. It's an exhilarating feeling to start your day in Philadelphia and cross the Maine border by lunch. It's less exhilarating once you remember that you have five more hours left to drive. The beautiful dream has turned into a crampy, red-eyed nightmare. It's at this moment that you find out what kind of man you really are. A marathon drive becomes an endurance test: Are you going to give up the wheel the next time you stop for gas? Or will you finish what you started, like a boss? The truth is, we have something to prove to ourselves. As boxing legend Joe Frazier once said, "Lots of times when I…don't want to go that other half mile, I say to myself, 'Nobody would know but me.' But, brother, that's the last guy I want to fool!" You can ask your man all you want if you can drive, but you're not likely to get anywhere unless you offer food. Work some magic on your phone and find a drive-through that serves something he loves that's messy and next to impossible to eat while driving, like pulled pork with lots of BBQ sauce. Then offer to drive while he eats-after all, you'll make better time if you don't sit down in the restaurant.
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"Zero to 60 in 7.2 seconds? I can do better than that"
Since man first domesticated the horse, he has been obsessed with things that move rapidly. We've all seen Top Gun and, homoerotic underpinnings aside, never have truer words been spoken than "I feel the need: the need for speed." This is why men buy sports cars and motorcycles designed for no other purpose than going really fast. However, most guys (who don't have that kind of disposable income) get off on seeing how far they can push their decidedly practical vehicles. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen middle-aged dudes in minivans pushing 100 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike, weaving in and out of traffic like they're Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a prescription for Lipitor. The guy may be bald, have a paunch, and drive the most uncool car on the road, but the good people of Dodge put a V6 engine in that Grand Caravan, and nothing else matters once he's decided to see how fast she can run. By all means, suggest that your husband slow down, but speed makes us feel young, speed makes us feel powerful-and speed makes us sorta stupid, so you might have to yell. Try this: SLOW DOWN, YOU IDIOT! Good luck and be safe out there.
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