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.