My sister asks so many questions. She staggers through life in a fug, startled frequently by unfamiliar words and concepts that leap on her like beggars in the dark. A typical half hour spent in her vicinity can yield such eccentric requests for information as: 'What's 'velocity'?'; 'Who's this McCain guy?'; 'What's a 'Republican'? Do they make everyone get a gun or what?' ; 'What's this 'vulva' thing I hear so much about on the telly? Is it catching?'; 'How do you spell 'hymen'?'
On most occasions I launch into a lengthy explanation: 'Well, it's not that simple to explain. You see the vulva is...' and ten minutes later she goes 'Oh. Right. Well why didn't you just say so. You do go on a bit, don't you.' I am a futile professor with an inattentive class.
Most recently these questions have veered off into 'If you are travelling at night with a wind speed of 30 knots and air temperature is clearing 260 degrees, Kelvin, and a horse-drawn vehicle signals that you insulted a member of their family, into what lane should you change and how many millimeters should you be from the moon? And oh, wait you're in Florida. And it's a Tuesday. Answer all applicable'. The Driver Theory Test, it's gotten ridiculous. Back in my day, it was tricky enough for me to fail it first time round but that was when the hardest question was 'If a pedestrian crosses in front of your vehicle (when it is in motion) should you a) run him down or b) not.' Nowadays you have to answer loads of maths-y junk and know the correct type of lantern you should carry if escorting a party of boy scouts from the scene of an accident and how you should alert a vehicle travelling to your rear that you are a gemini. While juggling.
'Driving is not complicated', I have to point out to her as I manoeuvre gracefully round a traffic island, one hand manipulating the radio, the other hand lighting a cigarette, the other hand painting my toenails. 'It's about feeling at one with your car, knowing it's limitations, it's hopes and dreams.'
'Are you still drunk?'
'Whup! Didn't you see that speed bump?'
'It was a secret one. Those buggers will creep up on ya. First lesson: look out for pot holes.'
'Watch-! And pedestrians?!'
'Well, only at crossings. The rest of the time they're on their own. Second lesson: Keep your eyes on the footpath.'
'Don't you mean the road?'
'No! Who am I gonna see to honk at on the road? Watch out for the footpath and see if there's anyone I know walking along it and we can stop and talk to them.'
'Right. Never mind, I'll just use the book.'
'Lesson three: You don't need to go down a gear if you're going around a corner, you just to need to speed up so you don't conk the engine.'
'Shut up. Even I know that's wrong.'
'Lesson Four: When driving in high heels, one should- oh fuck, cops!'