Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Learner's Permit

Jaci turned 15 but for some reason her innate teenage desire to drive had not kicked in to gear*. She preferred to be driven. Driven to school, to cheer practice, to her friends' houses, to the mall, to McDonalds, to the pool down the block. While this might have thrilled a safety-conscious parent worried about the abundance of other 15-year-olds crowding the roads, our mom had had enough. Feeling bored one day and fed up with ferrying her around, Mom seized the opportunity to coerce Jaci into the driver's seat.

Jaci laughed in that "nothing's actually funny; you're just stupid," kind of way. Mom insisted; Jaci panicked. I panicked. I yelled, "I'm not riding in the car with her! She doesn't even have her learner's permit! Mama, she doesn't know her left from her right! We're all going to get arrested!"

"I'd like to see them try." Mom scowled. She hates the Travelers Rest highway patrol and generally feels like they owe her one, due to their bad attitudes whenever they write her a speeding ticket. She said to Jaci, "For heaven's sake, you're 15 YEARS OLD. Get in that car and DRIVE."

I was fit to be tied, but didn't want to miss anything. Also, I knew Jaci would need the wisdom of my experience gently guiding her through this, her first, time behind the wheel. Mom and I started shouting over one another:

MOM: The first thing you do is put the car in gear-
ME: NO. The first thing you do is BUCKLE UP-
MOM: In this car the best thing to do is to PUT IT INTO GEAR FIRST.

Mom sticks to her guns; I will give her that. Jaci looked glassy-eyed and flushed. We crept towards the end of the driveway where she slammed on the brakes.

I said something like "Jesus fucking Christ Almighty she's going to kill us. Mom, do you want us to DIE?!" Mom topped my expletives with such tender words of encouragement as "Get your left foot off the brake! Remember when your father had you drive the lawn mower when you were two? It's just like that!" Mom and I both meant well, but Jaci was flustered from all the yelling. Not to mention she was probably scarred, being a survivor of my own checkered driving history. Haltingly she made it to the stop sign at the end of the road. That's when we noticed droplets on the steering wheel, and on the inside of the windshield. They were projectile tears spurting from Jaci's red face like bullets. Her eyes had swollen shut like they do when she pets Pepper, our rabbit, or Pumpkin, our guinea pig.

Bless her heart.

It took the rest of the drive to TJ Maxx to decompress (Mom was back behind the wheel at this point and Jaci was lying down in the back seat so her wheezing would stop). After we ran in and picked up some bathing suits, a yoga mat, and some flavored olive oil we were all in good spirits and proud of the day's accomplishments. And Jaci went on to pass her driver's test on the first try, a feat neither our mother nor I can boast.

*As always, PUN INTENDED.