The aspect of my new car that the picture doesn't show is that it's a stick shift. Prior to last Friday, I had only driven stick at about 3mph in circles around various empty parking lots. Everyone who has been generous enough to risk their transmission to teach me in the past 10 years has assured me that starting from a stop is the hardest part, and once I can do that, I'm good and I can drive stick. Then a few years go by and I forget, and start over the next time someone is willing to let me stall out their car for a few hours.
The lessons of stick I never got to were Going Faster Than 3mph, Shifting Into Second Gear, Shifting Into Any Other Gear, Reverse, Slowing Down From Gears Higher Than First, or Stopping From Gears Higher Than First. When we test drove the Cabrio last Thursday night, I got a quick course in most of these lessons, and I'm pretty proud to say I drove all the way from the dealership to Gamer's house last Friday, and from Gamer's back home with minimal trouble.
There was some stalling at lights, some panic and fear, but thanks to Evan's patience and clear and completely understandable instruction, all in all not bad. Speeding up seems to be the easy thing; right now I'm having trouble predicting what speed I'll be going during curves and turns and what gear to shift into from there. The other thing I'm just now remembering is to put the clutch in whenever I might come to a complete stop, including parking. For a few days I'd get sort of situated in a parking spot, stall out because I forgot to put the clutch in, and then just call it good enough rather than starting back up to situate myself in the space.
For a while, I was starting to think the car's name was going to be Fucking Cunt Whore, as in "so that's what it takes for you not to stall out you Fucking Cunt Whore?" But I think she'll grow out of that name pretty fast. I took her over to a hilly parking lot down the street on Monday to practice starting uphill. There was a Pentgaon Cop there and he looked completely confused as to what I was doing. I drove over to him and said I was new to stick and practicing on the hill, he burst out laughing, gave me a solid "good luck" and when I pulled away from him neither stalling nor peeling, he cheered me on.
Most of this practice was to prepare myself for the ridiculously steep hill that leads out of parking garage at work, which would keep me from driving in until I was ready to tackle. I'm proud to say that I drove in yesterday and today with no incident. I have been taking back roads in the morning, though, to avoid this one really high-speed merge I'm not quite ready for, but for now, baby steps.