Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Press lightly on the gas pedal

Tomorrow morning my oldest daughter will be taking a test to get her driving learner's permit. And though I've invested a few hundred dollars for her to take a course to prepare for the test, I am secretly hoping she fails.

I'm just not ready to hand her the keys to a car. Ok, today's cars don't actually use keys, but I think you get my drift.

I'm still not comfortable with the fact that she wears a bra. With two teenage daughters and a wife, there's enough bras in my house to outfit a nunnery. I can't pull a pair of socks out of the dryer without getting my hand snagged in a Maidenform. What has my life become?

If by some circumstance she does manage to pass the test my next task will be to hire a surrogate father. You see, I know myself. I know my short temper. I know that at the very first incident that requires hard braking, my right foot will go through the floorboards on the passenger side of my precious Lexus.

My father had the same self-awareness.

He relinquished that responsibility to Coach Brentnall, who supplemented his high school teacher's salary moonlighting as a Driver's Ed teacher during the summer. Of all the coaches, Coach Brentnall was perhaps the best natured. He never had much use for me on the football, soccer or baseball fields -- the only sport I excelled in was water polo -- but he liked having me in the back seat of the 72 Chevy Impala, if only to add some levity to what was always a dangerous adventure.

My memory may be a little off, but I'm pretty sure one of the girls in the class hit a deer while we learning how to execute a proper three point K-turn. It was either a deer or a freestanding mailbox that looked like a deer. In either case it brought great laughter from those of us seated in the back.

In retrospect, the '72 Chevy Impala might be the perfect driver ed vehicle.

It didn't have airbags or energy absorbing crumple zones. It didn't have a collapsible steering column or a Blind Spot Detection System. It had seatbelts for 6 passengers, but in those days we couldn't be bothered by seatbelts. But what it lacked in today's modern safety measures it more than made up for in Bethlehem's finest. Because the '72 Chevy Impala was 4,342 pounds of rolling Grade A galvanized steel, impervious to anything but a direct hit by a Mack Truck.

I know my daughter has something sportier in mind for her first car, but I think I'll start scouring the pages of autotrader.com for an old road-hogging Impala.

I'll let her pick the color.


Berk said...

I enjoyed reading this post more than any other to date.
Thanks Rich. Oh, and good luck.

Rich Siegel said...

@Berk. Then you haven't been doing a lot of reading. Here's one of my favs: