The stages of life include one that was a lot of fun for me: being a teenager. I couldn’t wait until I turned 13 so I could call myself a teenager. That was a big deal. A really big deal. But, nothing like when I turned 16. Dear God, I was going to learn how to drive. To the dismay of my parents and all the parents in the neighborhood, I was going to get my driver’s license. If I counted correctly, there were 13 of us in a two block area who were all the same age. Twelve girls and 1 boy: LeeAnn, Ramaine, Monica, Lori, Janice, Kathy, Tammy, MaryLou, Kacey, Cathy, Melinda, Harold, and me. That’s crazy. Well, for the parents……and mailboxes on Woodland Estates.
My mom owned a huge gold Cadillac. My dad had a small, ugly German car. So, naturally, I thought someone would teach me in my dad’s car. Um…. no. I was to use the boat. Well, that’s what I called it. I mean, who needs a car that big? Well, apparently, my mom did. Several years before we were in a bad car accident and she broke her back. We were hit from behind by a Mack truck on our way to the Starvaggi Swimming pool and flew head on into another car. After that, she drove nothing but gigantic cars. She would have driven a monster truck if they were in vogue in 1972.
So, I thought that my dad would teach me. He was a gentle man. Sounded like Ronald Reagan. Was a clown with the Shriner’s parade unit. Was a great guy. Surely he would teach me how to drive. Um…no. Dad was too busy. He was a realtor by day and read the newspaper/hid from my mom by night. Actually, I don’t think my mom even asked my dad. She was going to teach me to drive… In the boat.
I whined about using that gold monster, but she was determined that I was going to use that car. It made no sense. It was so wide, I might as well be a bus driver. After I got my permit, we headed over to the State Police barracks, where they had a course to practice on. It was close and very convenient. It had a place where you can practice parallel parking and there was a figure 8 course. I know there was something else, but I can’t remember. There may have been a normal driving area. But, there was nothing normal about my mom and her driving instructor ways. The normal driving area would be too easy for her. I was about to enter The Torture Zone.
Did I mention I whined about using her car? That was an understatement. I asked every couple of minutes.
“Moooommmm, why can’t I use Dad’s car. This is too hard.”
“It would be too easy.” (And the problem with that would be?????) Then she added, “Nothing worthwhile comes easy.” The hell you say. I would value a lot of things that came easy.
“The car is too big, Mom. I want to use Dad’s car.”
Well, she was all of a sudden deaf, so there was no use. But, I whined non-stop. I can not tell you how many times I practiced parallel parking in that boat. Over and over and over again. I sucked. There was no way that her car was going to fit between such a small parking space.
“Mom, this space is for normal cars. Your car is not normal.”
So, she would give me this, “We’ll just see about that” look, and would get out and parallel park with absolutely no problem. She was like a pro. Damn you, boat driver.
It wasn’t enough that we had to go there every evening after dinner. It wasn’t enough that I had to parallel park, pull out, drive around “the block” and parallel park again and again. It was exasperating. I was young and green. I was Grasshopper on Kung Fu. I decided that I would never parallel park as long as I live.
“This is stupid. I’m just going to pull in where ever I park. Can we quit? Please, can we quit?”
Helen Keller. It’s like she had ear plugs shoved all the way down into her inner ears. She ignored my whines. And I could whine. Well, to my surprise, she was finally ready to move me on the figure 8 course. It was narrow path, so driving a boat around it was not real easy, but I did it. Ok, finally, something I was good at. I was ready to do it again. However, she had other plans for me.
“Ok, now put the car in reverse and drive the figure 8 backwards.”
“Whaaaaat???? MOOOOOOOOOM, NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Whyyyyyyy????”
“It will give you practice.”
I want to know when the hell I would ever come across a figure 8 in a road that I have to drive in reverse. Please help me out here, because I couldn’t grasp her reasoning. There was only one explanation-
She must hate me.
I wish I would have cursed back then, even a little, because I would have asked her, “What the hell is wrong with you.” I never even thought of cussing. I cuss a lot now. Now that I think of it, the whole learning to drive experience earned me the right to say the F word. It really did. “What the F, Mom?” That would have made me feel better. Well, after the bar of soap came out of my mouth.
So, I practiced going backwards on the figure 8 course at the Weirton State Police barracks. I’m sure the state troopers who watched this nightly display of lunacy were amused. I wasn’t.
You know that saying, “Misery loves company?” So true. I wasn’t the only victim. No, my mom thought she could teach the world to drive in perfect harmony. My friend, Donna Granato, got to experience it right beside me. Her mom, Ruby, was my mom’s good friend. I called her Aunt Ruby, but she wasn’t really my aunt. That bummed me out when I found out the truth. Anywho…I am sure more people will speak up. I know my mom pierced everyone’s ears. Time to move on to driver instructor. Poor Donna got caught in her web too. I do remember that she did a much better job than I did parallel parking that stupid car.
So, the day FINALLY came to go over and take my driver’s test. I was nervous, but ready. We walked downstairs to the garage and she kept walking to the other bay.
“You’re going to take the test in your dad’s car.” She didn’t even look at me when she said it.
Pause and blood pressure rising in my little head. You know those cartoons where the steam comes exploding out of the characters head? Well, that was me. And I was a real person.
“WHAAAAAAAAT? WHHHHHHYYYYYY, MOOOOOOOOM, NO!” I mean, I never practiced at all in his car. She did hate me.
Helen Keller did not answer any of my whiny questions. She put her gigantic pocketbook on her lap and off we went. What the F, Mom, what the F.
Needless to say, I was able to whip that car into the parallel parking area. I could drive the figure 8 like I was threading a needle..or playing the game Operation. I was awesome.
I had no idea my mom was that smart. It was pure genius. Torture the daughter and her friend with the huge humongous boat of a car and then let them take the test in a small compact insect of a car.
I didn’t thank her until I was in my 30′s.
I didn’t want it to go to her F’n head.