Your Momma Don't Dance... But Mine?

Totally does. And much to my surprise, she pretty much tears up the dance floor. Actually, I'm lying. It doesn't surprise me one bit. Take this with a grain of salt because she is my dear old ma, but I have never encountered anyone more driven than she. And never will.

She is also the most humble person I have ever met, so I risk getting a phone call after this post where my mom screams frantically "Jim!! take it down, take it down!" So, while I can, I'm going to tell you about the little woman that could.

My mom came to this country as the wife of a diplomat. She decided she wanted a job. So she got one. Her first job in the US was as a bilingual kindergarten teacher. As much as she loved her students (and they loved her, evidenced by full grown adults stopping her in the street to thank her for being the best teacher they ever had), she needed a bigger challenge. Maybe a Master's degree. So she got one. Working full time, taking care of my sister and me, and hitting the books in the basement "study" after we were in bed, she achieved it. And she moved on to teaching high school. But she needed a bigger challenge. Maybe a Doctorate? So she got one. In the same way as she got her Master's. And she eventually made her way up the ladder. This time into the (major metropolitan city) school department, where she has been runnin' thangs in the foreign languages department for close to a couple decades now.

But the tale is not over. Back in my early martial arts days, I did Shotokan Karate. My mom, who failed at anything athletic she had ever encountered (her high school gym teacher once told her "you couldn't run even if a tiger was chasing you") was intrigued by Shotokan's graceful power and decided to try a class. And maybe eventually earn her black belt. She got one. And along the way, this woman they all called "mom" at the dojo was throwing back Black & Tans with the boys every thursday night after training (when prior to this, half a glass of Lite beer would knock her out).

So a little over a year ago, when my sister gave mom a gift certificate for a few ballroom dance lessons at a local studio, we all should have known. We all should have known that we'd get the phone call that went like this:

"Hi Jim! I'm going to be in Las Vegas in April."

"For a conference, ma?"

"No, to compete in the Ballroom Dance Nationals!"

 And a picture like this:

With mom and her dance partner Chris, Fury (with medal) and sis

Of course, I made you all a video. Because you have to see this. My mom is 60 years old with only a little over one year of experience. And also, I wasn't allowed to film this and it's always more fun when you don't have permission. And last also, Ford had contacted me about 2 weeks prior to our trip and asked if I would like to drive the Ford Flex for a few days and review it. A free tank of gas, a pimpin' ride to Vegas, and a fridge in the middle console (of all things, that is what made me say yes)? Bring it on.

For those of you not interested in cars, my review appears below the video (it's about 6 min long).


What I Think of the Ford Flex

Style: Urban, but not too urban cool that you look like a fool driving it at 36 yrs of age. But I have to say I did feel a little bit over my head in hip factor when I was driving the Flex. It didn't help that so many people would turn their heads and look at the car when they drove by. I'm hoping it was because they admired the styling rather than because they were laughing at me.

Mileage and Safety: Excellent. Not that I tested the safety features... but the brochure points out that it has earned a 2009 Five-Star rating and gets 24 mpg highway. That stuff matters now that I have a family and no discretionary income to waste on gassing up a huge 4x4.

Handling: I have read the reviews stating that the Flex has great pickup. I guess if you measure this vehicle against other vehicles in its class (i.e. compare it fairly), it probably does. But to me, it felt sluggish. Then again, my car is turbocharged, and my other car has an 8.1 liter, 6 mpg behemoth of a engine. Not good comparisons. But the ride is smooth. So smooth that you won't even notice going 110 on the highway to Vegas. Theoretically.

Interior Room: Oh lordy! It's like a limo in there. You could probably play raquetball in there too. Room for days. It's the low floor, high ceilings and spacious boxy design. Awesome.

Amenities: This is where the Flex just kicks major ass. Power liftgate is awesome. I hate having to put 10 grocery bags and two 12-packs of soda down just to close the liftgate in my wife's SUV. Being able to press a button is a luxury you don't realize you need until you have it. Also, the Flex's SYNC system, that lets you hook up your phone, MP3 player and whatever other gadgets you have, and then control it all with your voice makes you feel all warm and futuristic. It's also safer, but I'll go with futuristic.

My Favorite Thing: The fridge in the middle console. So you lose a potential seat with the fridge, but I would gladly tie an extra passenger to the roofrack to be able to enjoy a cold beverage whenever I want to. Especially in LA, where traffic and heat are a daily challenge. It even has freeze mode -- perfect for keeping specimens from field trips that didn't make the drive home and are starting to smell.

Overall, I have to say I really like the Ford Flex. I wouldn't give up my current car to have one, but my wife would. And has been asking for one ever since Vegas. Hook it up, Ford.