Back in June, on the anniversary of my high school graduation, I mentioned that I hardly remember anything about that supposedly milestone event. I also don’t remember the first time I kissed a girl. It must have been the first girl I dated and I don’t remember why we stopped seeing each other either. I do, however, remember taking my driver’s test; I remember that very clearly.
I was 17 and in dress rehearsals for a school play, so I had grey hair. I took the test in the family car, an ancient Dodge that can most kindly be described as a bomb! No steering wheel cover, no horn ring, no inside door panel on the passenger side, passenger door banged in, and the muffler was going, so it resonated inside the car rather obviously, even worse if I had the windows up. I had them down, all of them, in November, in New York.
Inspector gets in the car, checks my paperwork, looks at me and says, “How old are you? I told him I was 17 and since he didn’t ask why I had grey hair, I didn’t tell him. But he shoved his clipboard toward me and said, “Sign this!” so I did. Then, he noticed the steering wheel and asked if I could blow the horn. I said I wasn’t sure because I never had to. I blew it though, so he had to look for some other excuse. He noticed the absence of the passenger door panel and consequently the door handle. He asked, “How do you get out of this thing?” Wordlessly, I gave him the door handle. He didn’t ask for the handle to roll up the window, so I didn’t give him that. As I said, you could hear the bad muffler better if the windows were up.
I passed the first time I actually took the test. I always thought it was because the instructor wanted to be sure he never had to ride in that old Dodge again.
On top of all that angst, when the license came in the mail, the family car was parked in front of the house, but I walked to where I had to go that day, three miles away, because the car wasn’t properly insured for me to drive it. And the first girl I asked out once I had the license said yes, but her dad wouldn’t let her in a car alone with a boy he hadn’t met, so my dad had to drive us.