Monday, September 24, 2012

Burning Rubber

The first rule of driving, living, being a mountain climbing sherpa, or bass hand fishingperson is to be defensive. Always plan on someone else doing something so stupid and ridiculous that you find yourself saying "I can't make this shit up."  As it happens, I say that all the time.

Whilst driving home from church to pick up the tent that we were supposed to take on the first trip (Note: you cannot protect yourself from your own stupidity), I witnessed the irritation of a 15 year old temp holding vehicle operator expressing frustration with the "old person driving like she's old and insane." To his credit, she was kind of old- not like 45 old, so even I thought she was old. She drove so slow that the kid (late braker, in this case) was getting a bit antsy.  And then, in the middle of an intersection, in a residential neighborhood this pyschopath did a u-turn and drove on the grass to turn around. Late Braker's eyes were like saucers.  I can't make this shit up.

Every day I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep others from enacting cockamamie schemes to do one thing or another. I wish I knew how to karate chop these dumb ideas out of the thinker's skull before it becomes a fully articulated scheme. I'm sure this is justifiable violence.Also, not fabricated horse pucky. Maybe this paragraph should be saved for my inside voice but it's just that defensive mechanism thing.

Anyway, Late  Braker drove the minivan this weekend and managed to squeal the tires, although not spectacularly like Tire Squealer.  I'm starting to feel inadequate that I don't go peeling out of the lot at the grocery store with those 3 gallons of milk and Eggo waffles in a cloud of smoke. That's living that could  be enhanced with some needless road noise. And maybe some high caffeine energy drinks.

I guess this is one of those times when you can learn stuff from your kids- the restorative power of a little noise. Here I am trying to help them aniticipate the u-turning, grass squashing idiots and I could  be venting all sorts of energy on rubber burning off on the pavement and supporting their efforts to do the same.

Can you imagine having to deal with all of this as sherpa?Teaching some teenagers to drive and peeling out my tires on the way to work everyday sure  beats keeping some yokel from plunging into a crevasse.  I can't make this shit up.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Late Braker and Tire Squealer

It's been another fun filled weekend of teen driving in our house.  I'm envisioning my own MTV reality show kind of like "16 and Pregnant" but instead called "15 with Temps." The show would be essentially the same- lots of crying and gnashing of teeth- some yelling- some swearing- some drinking- some hurling. This is all within 5 miles of the house.  I wonder if Adele would sing one of her sad songs for the opening credits.

To protect the innocent, I won't use names. Twin A is Late Braker (LB). Twin B is Tire Squealer (TS).  

LB is a pain in the ass. Try driving along and thinking about how long you could possibly go without braking for the dead stopped traffic in front of you.  Now count to 4. Now brake.  That's a dang Late braker.  To prevent what seems like the inevitable collision, his howling Mom's instructions require him to leave a football field between him and the cars in front of him so we may look strange driving around and stopping at stop lights a 1/4 mile away.  It's self preservation.

Did you know that if you pull really hard on the passenger door and lean to the left, it is still impossible to will a vehicle that you are not in control of back onto the roadway?  Just checking.

I had no idea that the tires could squeal on our boring old family minivan.  That was until TS hopped in the drivers seat and drove us home from Mexican dinner when I was too lazy (read: bone dead tired) to cook dinner.  TS settled himself in and declared that the boat of a minivan was the coolest thing he's ever driven. Interesting for his 2nd vehicle, but I'm not counting.  Then, he floored it and we all hit the back of our seats with tires squealing. There must have  been smoke.  This was pulling out of the parking space.  I've never heard the car make that noise.  TS was thrilled.  TS's father had by this time assumed a crash position in the back seat and was reciting traffic violations from memory from the Ohio Revised Code along with the punishments sure to be dealt out by an unsympathetic magistrate.  TS could have cared less.  

We had the misfortune of allowing TS to drive the minivan again only to have him squeal the tires at a very busy intersection in the middle of town. People were staring at us.  Isn't it supposed to be the kids who don't want to be seen with the parents? I wanted to slap on a wig and change clothes so as to avoid being recognized with this child turned maniacal minivan racer. I'm waiting for him to give up on using the doors and start hopping through the window like it's the General Lee.

A friend of mine told me that she only ever let her kid drive in the cemetery. If only I had been that smart.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

At Least the Bumper Won't Be Itchy

This teen driving thing is pretty intense.  I'm glad I don't have a heart condition and I'm hoping that the crushing chest pain is merely anxiety.  One kid waits entirely too long to brake leaving me with visions of sitting inside the trunk of that Lexus in front of us. The other kid can't stay between the lines, weaving back and forth like he's speeding along in a miniature Shriner car and coming precariously close to the curb, river, ditch, giant tree, whatever.  Meanwhile, I take deep cleansing breaths and watch small snippets of my life flash before my eyes. After a particularly harrowing ride with Son #2 today, and with our entire family at risk in the car, he squealed up the driveway as I gripped the seat with one hand and covered my eyes with the other. "You're supposed to accelerate into the turns, Mom." Sure. He then peeled into the garage while all of us screamed, out loud this time and all I could think about what how the dining room might be redecorated to accentuate the Volkswagon that would now grace the west wall. Alas, he applied the brakes, but not before squishing the heck out what was ever in front of the car and we saw a fountain of clear liquid shoot into the air. I thought this was gas and had visions of the house bursting into flames. Tim shot out of the backseat like a rocket, ran around the car to find that Son #1 had flattened a gallon jug of poison ivy killer. The next time we end up in a ditch, at least the car won't be at risk for a rash. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why Yes, Please Take Me out For Ice Cream

I just came back from teaching Peter how the fill the car with gas. On the way to the gas station he said, "how am I going to pull up next to the pump?" Very carefully. I didn't tell him that I once drove away with the nozzle still in my car- ripping it off of the pump (Dave's Marathon, Elkhart, Indiana c. 1989). Peter asked a lot of questions about paying for gas which causes me some concern. Maybe he was just interested and not planning a drive off.

In Ohio you have to have the kids drive with you for 50 hours (in addition to 24 hours of driving school and 10 hours with an instructor). The 50 hours for 2 kids at the same time is a lot of driving- it's like I need a sabbatical fron work to have the time to teach them to drive. A few weeks ago when we started, they were pretty tentative and I feared for pedestrians and parked cars. I told them they had to drive to the school for the back to school orientation and they flipped out because they would have to park the car in the parking lot at the high school- No way are we driving, they hollered. We'll have to park! I assured them that whenever you drive a car, you eventually have to park it- or crash it into a ditch. The former being the preference They also both still have the tendency to hug the side of the road like they're working for the postal service. I'm surprised we still have the mirror. But, they're getting better and I no longer curl my toes or bash my foot onto the floor trying to make the car stop at every stop light- only occasionally. I do scream and assume the crash position and pray out loud, when the situation warrants it, like when I think we might be going airborne over a bump. Did you know this place used to be a swamp? That means that all of the roads are lined with giant, super deep ditches that eat cars. How fun do you think it is to stare down into one of those things when your kid is pretending to deliver mail that he doesn't have? That's right, you'd scream too. As a matter of fact, you can scream right now on my behalf if you want.

I let Andrew drive through McDonald's to get his caramel frappe thing that he likes and he drove up onto the curb in the drive through. Instead of backing up and before I could talk him off the curb, he floored the gas and the car lurched and tires squealed and we rocketed into the line without killing anyone. After I realized that I was still alive enough to pay for his frappe, I've never laughed so hard in my life. Tonight I let Peter drive us through for ice cream (I figured after the gas experience we deserved a treat). He had a hard time figuring out what window to roll down and hit the windshield wipers a few times. He said that the driving is getting easier, but it's all the gadgets that are a problem.

Anyway, we're all still alive and now I have someone to drive me to the grocery store and get my gas for a 100 or so hours. And to get me ice cream. So I don't starve when we land in the ditch.