Thursday, August 27, 2009

Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em

This Thursday's Trip down Memory Lane is in honor of all of my friends who have been talking on their blogs and on Facebook about their children getting their driver's licenses. Also, it's SORT OF about birthdays. The big 1-6, to be exact. My birthday is Tuesday. I figure this is pretty close. I may do another birthday trip down Memory Lane next week. I'm one of those that doesn't reckon a birthday needs to really be confined to a single day...

Most kids approaching their sixteenth birthday are ready to drive. I was ready to be more independent. I was ready to be more mobile. But I was not ready to drive. My parents took the Driver’s Ed program at the school very seriously. Most kids took Driver’s Ed for the insurance break. I took it to learn to drive.

The first time I slid behind the wheel of a car, it was the Driver’s Ed car. The instructor handed me the keys and said, “Let’s see what you’ve got.” I asked him what exactly I was supposed to do with the keys. He rolled down the windows and lit a Camel.

After that, he always gave me the last turn at the wheel. He always rolled down the windows and lit a Camel as I approached the driver’s seat.

There were a total of three students in the car. The other two drove on the main drags, such as they were, of our town. My turn usually began when we were pretty close to the school parking lot. I won’t swear to it, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that despite his title, the Driver’s Ed instructor had never actually taught anyone to drive from scratch before.

A non-smoker myself with non-smoking parents, I was pretty sure he was going to have lung cancer before I had a driver’s license. I felt just a little bit guilty about that.

I pleaded with my parents to take me out to practice. I didn’t much like feeling like I was in remedial Driver’s Ed. Dad gave in once or twice, but he didn’t like it. He was probably afraid that if he rode with me too much HE’D need to take up smoking, too.

Eventually I got it, of course. I’d like to say it all just clicked, but it was a much more gradual process than that. I would still rather be in the passenger’s seat than the driver’s seat, given a choice. Not long after I got my license, a boyfriend said, “Wanna learn to drive a stick?”

I walked to the nearest convenience store and bought him a pack of Camels.

22 comments:

Anita said...

Oh Tammy, this was great!! Yes I am the mom of two new teen drivers, and my hair is getting more gray daily!
I was overjoyed to drive, it meant freedom, some real, some fantasized about.
It's funny to look back on when we were learning, and the fact that a teacher was actually smoking when you were driving seems so odd, but I know it happened............ah different times those were, and yes you should feel guilty over making him smoke so much!!LOL

Housewife Savant said...

YOU Tammy? I picture you being BORN with the ability to drive anyting, and having a Harley by the time you were 16. (Of course, you would've come by it in a pirate trade or a high stakes poker game, and you'd've kept it hidden in a secret garden, all of which would've been revealed in your Thursday posts.)

Birthday CAKE should definitely not be confined...

(And the boyfriend may or may not have been using a euphemism.)

Simon said...

A disarmingly candid description. I’m reminded of my first driving lessons – at the age of 25. My instructor, a woman, didn’t smoke, at least not in the car, but I could sense her rolling her eyes in despair a few times, and a few acerbic comments were allowed to slip past her lips.

I’m pretty sure I’m a lousier driver than you too, though I am at least used to handling a stick.

The Grown-Up Child said...

Parallel parking still causes me to hyperventilate. And I would be okay if the automakers decided 'reverse' was a gear that was no longer necessary. ;)

theycallmejane said...

My daughter just got her license and after one of my first "lessons" with her I told my husband, "Now I know why people drink and smoke!" Too hilarious!

Mandy said...

I had my license at age 15 (Louisiana - dumb rules) and I was sooooo not ready to drive. That became evident after a fender bender I received two weeks after the license. And my parents put me through a private driving school instead of the "joke" drivers ed program that our schools offered. You're right though - it's definitely a gradual process.

Well it could be worse, right? Remember that movie "License to Drive" with Corey Haim? And Mercedes Lane? LOL! ;-)

Badass Geek said...

I didn't take drivers education until I was 17, when all of my friends had their licenses already. But hey, by the time I got my license, most of them had one or two accidents under their belt, plus high insurance premiums.

You win some, you lose some.

Melissa B. said...

Ah, a flashback to a time when "authority figures" did the dirty deed. By that I mean smoking. I distinctly remember having high school teachers who smoked. They're pretty difficult to find at Our Humble High School these days!

~Kristina said...

Such a perfect recount! Your way with words is wonderful.

mama-face said...

Ha. Great trip down memory 'lane' (how appropriate) as usual. I love that you have such a great memory, literally. You always make me think of things I've forgotten all about!

As usual, I want to share...Driving is the only thing that came naturally to me. The driver's ed teacher was sure I had been driving already. But I honestly had not. Because I was 14, yes 14, when I got my driver's license. Something about living in a farming community. (They've changed that law). No 14 year old is ready to drive. Other than me of course! I"m a great back seat driver too. Maybe the best.

It is scary when your young ones are learning to drive; but it is so wonderful when they don't need you to drive them everywhere.

:)

MaryRC said...

we have birthday months in my neck of the woods. i was reluctant to drive in driver's ed, i didnt take the DRIVING part of D.E. i moved back to AZ where it wasnt required. i was very okay with that, i couldnt stand the thought of driving judgement. so i taught myself slowly but surely. didnt get my licence until i was 19.. pathetic.. oh i was driving way before then, but again with the judgement thing..

carma said...

Great story....I am still scarred from driving with my father (who was Type A) shouting -- "clutch in, clutch in"

Enjoy your birthday :D

MiMi said...

Oh yeah, this is so familiar!
My driver's ed guy was a coach so he treated us like we were football players. He'd call me by my last name, really LOUD.
Then he'd have us go last and me and my 2 other fellow driver's ed peeps, had to take him around to get his newspaper and pop.
The first time I drove was with my mom. I kept looking at the hood of the car.
My poor momma had to go get her blood pressure meds when we got home. : /

Gibby said...

I took driver's ed, but I also had to log in time with my parents (or another responsible driver, but really, who other than your parents will get into a car with a teen learning to drive?). I started out with my dad, but that only lasted one attempt. After that he told my mom that I would give him a heart attack. Mind you, he was a cop, so you'd think he would be used to bad driving. So, my mom was stuck with me. Poor lady. I'd just like to point out that I got 100% on my driving test, even though 20 years later I can guarantee that I CANNOT parallel park.

P.S. My husband also celebrates his birthday month. It starts next Tues. Sigh...

Unknown Mami said...

Are you sure the boyfriend was referring to a car?

parentingBYdummies said...

I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18. My boys won't either. Just my thing, but my parents were serious about it and I plan to be too. Pretty much everything else I'll probably waver, falter, and give in on eventually. But, not driving. No can do.

FranticMommy said...

I remember the first time I took my drivers test. It immediately rolled two curbs and flunked. My dad was so PISSED. I bawled all the way home and he chain smoked.
Ahh...the memories of childhood.

JennyMac said...

Popping in from Seattle to see you of course.

Love this story! I remember getting my license...and having my mom take it away within one week for acquiring my first speedingn ticket.

Big bday celebration next week! An early toast to you.

Ginger said...

(grin)
My first time was in a deserted, dirt parking lot in some sort of old grey tank-like Crysler. My brother, four years younger than me, also got his turn. We were 4 and 8. The rationale was that empty lot + tankish car + small-town dad who grew up counting cattle in his dad's pickup when he was 8 = an easy Sunday afternoon for everyone.

Lucky for mom, she was oblivious, and would remain oblivious, at least according to the pact we made with my dad before we were allowed to take the wheel..

Vivienne said...

This is so hysterical! I had been allowed to drive from the top of our ded-end street, past 9 houses and into our driveway. That had been the extent of my experience before getting behind the wheel of the drivers ed car.

However, Mr. Price simply made us pull over every 20 minutes and he got out of the car and took his smoke breaks. Inside the car must have been verboten.

My Hubs tried to teach me to drive a stickshift soon after I got my license. Not fun for either of us. Or his transmission.

Kathy B! said...

I won't tell you about how I drove my car into a ditch on the way to take my driver's test... it was ugly.

This is one of your best posts.

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