Wednesday, May 26, 2010

They call me baby driver...

...and once upon a pair of wheels, I hit the road and I'm gone.

I'd like to tell you about the day I got my license.  My big bad 17 year old self drove in my friend, Chris's car down to Salem county for my test.  Chris jabbered in the back seat about his driving test and how I would have no problem passing, while I gripped the wheel at 10 and 2 with white knuckles.  My mom interrupted my friend's 60 mile-an-hour talking to coax me to speed up my 35 mile-an-hour driving (on a free-for-all stretch of country road). Wanting to compensate for my timidness, I floored it the rest of the way and proudly walked in to the testing center.  In an effort to boost my own confidence, I told the woman at the desk that I had scored a 100% on the written exam to which a scruffy looking man behind me replied "That don't matter." I could only reply with nervous laughter.

My actual test was uneventful except for the occasional distraction of the 70 year old instructor hacking up a lung with his smoker's cough.  Most importantly, I passed!

I celebrated by taking my mom's giant boat of a Mercedes to the school to pick up my two friends, Rachel and Grace for lunch.  I felt so cool and independent...and nauseated. My mother's car felt too big. There were too many other cars on the road. I was already violating the terms of my Cinderella's license by having two friends in the car at one time. It was all just too much. Mercifully, we arrived at the Hollywood Cafe Diner (isn't that a redundant restaurant name?) I felt much better and surprisingly less nauseated after scarfing a cheesesteak.

Backing out of parking spots had been a tricky task for me during my driving lessons, so I always tried to be very cautious.  I slowly reversed out of my parking spot, checking my mirrors, and having Grace and Rachel monitor my blind spots.  No one, however, was monitoring the front of the vehicle.  Just as I thought I was home free, I heard a "screeeeech crunch!" My mother's headlight had scraped the side of the poor unsuspecting vehicle next to me. Stunned, the three of us simply sat in silence. Then we all yelled "DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE!"  I peeled out of that parking lot like I had just robbed the place.

Trembling with guilt and picturing the poor senior citizens' faces when they saw their vehicle's wound, I didn't think I could continue my journey. Knowing I couldn't return home in this emotional state, Grace suggested a trip to the Dollar Store, which always resulted in delightful treasures and lifted spirits. (Looking back, I wonder if I should be proud that we could find joy in such simplicity...or if I should be embarrassed that we were so lame. I'm going to go with proud.)

I pulled into the most remote parking spot on the whole lot (a practice I continued for many months after that day), cried a little, then pulled myself together and walked toward the Dollar Store with my friends. On our way across the vast deserted parking lot, we spotted a Polaroid picture face down on the asphalt. Curious adventurers that we were, we skipped over to the photo, bent down and picked it up. To our shock and horror, the photo was of a man engaging in masturbation. Yes, a very erect penis was front and center. I only saw the picture for a second before screaming in terror, but that image is burned into my brain for all of eternity. My eyes! My innocence! What is this world coming to?!

After the terror wore off, we broke out into laughter and ran for the store to buy trinkets that would reclaim our childhood. I then dropped my friends off at their homes, pulled into my driveway, walked into my house, and burst into tears, crying to my mother that I was a failure. She comforted me, gave me some birthday cake, told me not to tell my father, and sent me to bed.

My adventures on the road continued to be rocky for a while and thankfully ceased during the blissful months I spent riding NYC's public transportation. Now that I need to be on wheels again, I hope I've finally got the hang of it.
an example of a "rocky" park job


  1. This makes me wonder how different our college experience had been if we all had to drive to get around. It's probably safe to say we're all richer in limbs and violation dollars because of the subway.
    p.s. I'm grateful for that OBX parking job Jenn- it's such a great photo :)

  2. i got a 70% on my written exam (the lowest needed to pass) and failed my driving test the first time. oh to be young again.