Make Danica Patrick Queen Of Saudi Arabia

Published 4:23 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ladies, start your engines.

Release the handbrake, shift into gear, and keep the Saudi Women For Driving revolution rolling.

Free Saudi men from the awful burden they have been bearing all of these years-being saddled by arcane Saudi laws with a lifetime of backseat drivers.

Allow women to drive like Danica Patrick and the men could then sit back-you go, Daddy-and offer constructive suggestions, making jokes about women wandering lost in the desert for 40 years and never asking for directions.

Only by allowing men to become backseat drivers will Saudi law effectively enforce male superiority and the kind of gender apartheid the Saudi royal family apparently wants.

The ban on women drivers has got it all backwards. Currently, men have to caddy women to the market. Let women drive and the men could stay home and watch camel racing and falconry highlights on ESPN's Sportscenter while their wives pick-up the groceries.

As every man and woman in America knows, it's no sugar-coated pistachio nut having to do all the driving.

Too well do I recall what should have been a 30-minute detour home from Florida by way of the Okefenoke Swamp in 1987, as I cheerfully insisted my wife and our two-year old daughter would love to see the swamp where Pogo the possum lived.

After a wonderful time at Disney World, what could top the trip of a lifetime off better than seeing the swamp made famous by the late cartoonist Walt Kelly.

After all, a swamp is defined by the Free Online Dictionary as “A seasonally flooded bottomland with more woody plants than a marsh and better drainage than a bog.”

Disney World could turn that into a fun ride in a heartbeat.

Better drainage than a bog, I still find myself reminding my wife even all these many years later.

But instead of getting there at lunchtime, some vortex of roads through Georgia found us arriving moments before the park closed at 5 p.m.

On a map-and I did consult a map-a crow could have flown there in 10 minutes. By some reality-bending road construction, or it might possibly have been my driving, I drove for what seemed like days through every small town in Georgia.

And, oddly, they all looked exactly alike.

If I didn't know better I would say I kept driving in more or less a circle for five hours before finally taking a left into the Okefenoke National Wildlife Refuge.

Twice I had to stop for new tires.

The oil was changed once.

A man in a barn installed a new alternator.

And we used more gas than a national political convention.

My wife, meanwhile, went from openly ambivalent about a side trip to a swamp as part of what was already a 14-hour drive home to a kind of inscrutable supportive silence that all husbands intuitively fear. Though I think I heard her mumbling something under her breath about me being “latter than the late Walt Kelly.”

But we got there.

That was the important thing.

To me.

It was not important at all to my wife who, oddly, kept urging me to pose for a photograph next to a living alligator taking up three spaces in the Okefenoke National Wildlife Refuge parking lot.

She gave up when I refused, but only after it was clear the alligator was comatose with the unbridled excitement of living in a swamp.

Our young daughter, meanwhile, kept asking where Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck were and if she could have some cotton candy.

We'd left Florida in March and eventually reached South Carolina in May, after spending the entirety of April trying to find our way out of the Okefenoke Swamp.

I am not complaining about all the driving I did during those three months coming back from Florida-my wife encourages me not to-but it would have been nice to read War And Peace while my wife drove.

I want Saudi men to be freed from their fate and able to enjoy the journey to their own swamps.

After all, another definition of “swamp” is “a situation or place fraught with difficulties and imponderables.”

And I couldn't agree more.