Jul 102012

If you want to send me a bottle of wine (perhaps a dry peppery Shiraz) I’ll accept. Or Valium. I’ll accept that too.

I have two kids with driver’s permits right now. Can you feel my pain? No? Your kids are too young? Hahaha. Oh, just wait. Your kids are beyond that? Psh. I majored in psychology. I’m completely familiar with repression of memories and denial.

At baby showers the mothers all sit on the edge of their chairs and share labor and delivery stories. They dole out advice about sleep routines. What a waste of time! Sleep routines. Is that a joke? What sleep? I’ll tell you what these women should be doing: they should be formulating responses to teenagers with driver’s permits.

I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon. A teen with a driver’s (drivers’? drivers?) permit is a complete paradox. (An expert with no experience.)

Another strange phenomenon is the way the driving instruction makes me feel as a person. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

Let me explain.

“You forgot to signal”

“What if no one is behind me? Do I have to signal?”

“Yes, it forms good habits, and you’ll fail the driver’s exam if you don’t signal.”

Passing the driver’s exam is what it’s ALL about, right?


“Whhhaaaatttt? What’s wrong?”

“You have to brake into the turn and accelerate out. NOT the other way around! Look at the dashboard. You see that yellow triangle with the exclamation mark inside? That means we’re about to die! Okay. Slow into the turn . . . accelerate out. Got it?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think I was going that fast.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going slow into the turn!”

“Tommy! We’ll never get there at this rate! Speed up a bit.”

“You just said go slower.”

“There is a magical speed somewhere between flipping the car over and growing old. The speed you’re going right now will get you rear-ended (not to mention, the finger) and by the time we get out of the turn I’m going to qualify for a senior citizen discount.”

“MOM! How do I know what speed? Magical speed is not helpful.”

“You’ll know.”


“What’s the speed limit here?”


“Then why are you driving 50? NOOOO. Don’t slam on the brakes to adjust the speed, just let off the accelerator. Good. You’ll fail the driver’s exam if you go that fast. And you’ll definitely fail if you throw the examiner through the front windshield.”

“What’s the speed limit here?”


“Then why in the name of all that is holy are you driving 22 miles per hour! We’ll never get there! We’re going to be soooo late!”


(Wine. Send wine.)

“Mom, can I drive?”

“No, we don’t have time. I need to drive, or we’ll be late.”

“Why will we be late if I drive? This is the time we always leave?”

“Because I can go faster.”


“Um. I can’t really go faster, it’s just that I, ummm. I. ummm. Just get in the car.”

Because I SPEED, okay! Because it’s an unwritten code that once you pass your driver’s test you get to add 5-9 miles per hour to every speed limit, and you can roll through stop signs in the middle of the country, because NO ONE is ever on the road with you . . . and . . .  and . . . justifying breaking the law is exhausting.  

“Mom, you’re supposed to be able to see the rear tires and two feet of pavement when you stop behind another car.”

“Yeah, I know. I think I’m the one who told you that.”

“Then why didn’t you stop sooner so you can see the pavement? You know it’s so if the car behind you rear-ends you, you won’t hit the car in front? You know if you hit the car in front you’ll be responsible for the damage? Do you want to be responsible for the damage?”

How do you answer THAT? Why, yes, son, actually, I would like to be responsible for the damage, and that’s why I didn’t leave enough space. 

I say nothing. Just glare at my passenger, who thinks that passing the permit test is the equivalent of defending a doctoral thesis on driver safety. Thomas Schuemann, Ph.D.

“Mom, you forgot to signal.”


(Wine. Send wine.)

  4 Responses to “They’re driving me to drink”

  1. Kian, I was rolling on the floor laughing hysterically, when my kids asked why? How do I answer that, but to say, “I feel your pain! I will gladly bring you wine and share it with you!”

  2. Perfect timing! Monica and I went out today and it’s like you heard every word! Maybe we can share a glass of wine on the phone.

  3. My mother threatened to pull me out of driver’s ed when I was correcting the way she drove as I went through my learner’s permit stage!

  4. Oh my gosh, that is just toooooo funny. You have such a knack for writing. Love it.

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