My sweet sister, Kate, and I maneuvered the hills around Mena, Arkansas, in search of quartz crystals one steamy July morning. As we continued our quest along the deeply rutted road, Kate calmly told me “do not stop.” We did stop. The old graveled road we were traveling began to resemble a washed out creek bed. As I considered what rut or boulder to avoid she reminded me “whatever you do, don’t roll back.” Anyone who has driven stick-shift while positioned on a steep incline inherently understands the significance of that statement. You have to proportionately release the clutch and depress the accelerator to achieve the optimum forward motion. Depending on one’s level of anxiety, high acceleration and a less than perfectly timed release of the clutch creates a propulsion akin to warp factor one. If one jumps off the clutch without sufficient acceleration, there is a great leaping and lurching of the vehicle down the road. I suspect that’s when the phrase “ease off the clutch” was created.

As I continue my journey of playwriting and such, I invite you to join me as I “ease off the clutch.”

By the way, you can start in second gear if you have just the right touch. An old boy from Shreveport taught me how to do that in his daddy’s old dump truck and in his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. The “Cuda” was “stolen” and burned on the Bossier strip . . . but that’s another story.