The way it looks on reality shows like Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver, is that the kid approaches the parent about three years too early, to start the Process of getting their driver’s permit. After jumping through all the requisite hoops Mom and Dad put you through, including the awkward “lessons” they attempt to impart, you study, and are quizzed incessantly by both parents until you go and learn a major life lesson about the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Efficient it ain’t.
Once you have fulfilled all the state requirements through both testing and the infamous driver’s road test, you are ready to drive solo. At least that’s what Jim Anderson and Hugh Beaumont would say.
Here’s how I learned to drive.
Having logged a total of ZERO hours behind a steering wheel, I get a ride down to Long Beach from my girlfriend. I was to spend Friday night at my big brother Ed’s place. I learned a few things that day. Like how to play poker for money (Ed’s friend taught me how to cheat at the game). I learned how to chug cheap wine to excess. Major excess. I was also introduced to marijuana for the first time. This is a connection I have maintained up to this point in my life. So wasn’t I talking about learning to drive? Oh yeah.
So it is about 3am Saturday morning; still; dark outside. Everyone has split and as Ed heads upstairs, he says “Here’s the keys to the car; it’s parked out front on the curb.”
I guess he didn’t know I had yet to attain my license and forget about insurance! So what do I do? I took the keys and “practiced” how to drive down by the Long Beach Pier, a pretty high-crime area at that point in history. Underage, drunk, stoned, howling at the moon and my eyes spinning in concentric circles, I was driving with no license as I left tire tread marks in the lot that sidled snugly up to the Queen Mary. Years later the proud ship would be the site of my prom. I was doing spinouts (360’s) and drinking a warm beer I found in the backseat when red and blue flashing lights appeared in the rear-view mirrors. I tucked the half-open can under my seat. I took a deep breath as the officer approached. My eyes were just red slits and I knew for sure I was done.
To this day I cannot explain why I did not suffer any legal repercussions as the early-morning fog lifted over Long Beach Naval Base. I mean I was sure I would at least be pulled in and my brother called. I explained “I borrowed the car; my brother was asleep and I was trying to find a drug store to find some cold medicine. I forgot to grab my license and I kinda got lost lookin for the drug store. I was just turning around when you saw me.” No explanation asked for, nor given, for my hell-raising Dukes of Hazzard driving display. That was the best I could come up with at the time and evidently this line of shit worked and the VERY WORST thing that could have happened to me did: they let me go with a warning to always keep my license with me.
They did me no favors letting me go. I honestly think if the situation had turned out differently, it could have had a major effect on everything that came after.
One more time: don’t drive impaired. Absolutely not worth it. And don’t learn to drive like I did.
One woman can change the world. madd.org