I have never proclaimed to be a fabulous driver. I am one of those Nervous Nellies that no one wants to ride with, and probably doesn’t even want as a passenger. You see though, it’s not entirely my fault. My mother taught me how to drive. She is not the most assertive driver out there. She jumped out of a car she was driving when a bee flew in the window? Yes, she left her teenage daughter (ME) in a rolling car and jumped out! Well, my darling sister came to the rescue and tried to help. Now, before I tell you how I scared the heebie jeebies out of Peg and almost killed her, I must say in my own defense IT WASN’T MY FAULT!!!!! Besides, the first time I ever rode in a car with her (which might have been the first time she ever drove), she ran us into a ditch. Yes, she did.
Peg’s version may be a little different and more life defying than my account, but here’s how I remember it going down. My mother was in the hospital so Peg came in to help hold down the fort. I think this was the same day I’d gotten my driver’s permit, but I might be mistaken. I’m pretty sure Peg had driven me to take the test. We drove the forty-five minutes over to the hospital in the late evening. The sun had gone down by the time we left to return home. She asked me if I’d like to drive back home. First, I did not tell her I’d never driven in the dark. Second, I neglected to tell her I’d never driven over the mountain. Well, it’s a first time for everything, right?! Oh yeah, and I’d never driven in the city traffic either. I had only driven on back country roads. I didn’t profess to know my stuff, nor did I enlighten her with my lack of knowledge…Until I started the car. My lack of skill quickly became obvious. I am sure I probably choked and nearly flooded the car by giving it too much gas when I started it. Obviously if I did not have a permit, my experience was limited
Remember it was dark. I did know how to turn the lights on and off…score one, or make that two, for the Suz! So, I take off like Gramma Moses and meander my way out of town. I might have cut off a few people. I really don’t remember, but I do know that I didn’t hit any other cars or pedestrians. Nor did I ram Peggy’s head into the windshield. Now the dashboard might have had her permanent claw marks in it by the end of the ride. After we got on the highway, Peg reminded me to turn on my high beams. She probably instructed me to turn the switch. I was really getting the hang of driving and picked up some speed. We were listening to the radio and singing. And neither of us can carry a tune, so that alone could have been an omen that all was not going to be perfect. Anyway as I was finally approaching a “normal” speed (but considered a fast speed if you were the passenger). I came upon the first big curve. I started getting shaky and I white-knuckled the steering wheel. I aced it without running off of the road or toppling us over the mountain. At almost the same speed, I approached the second curve, however this time there was an oncoming car. I was blinding the car with my bright lights. Peg demanded that I dim my lights. No problem, I thought…and all went black except the approaching lights. I think Peg almost crapped her pants. Funny thing was that I didn’t scare myself because I thought I had dimmed the lights. Well, it really wasn’t my fault. She failed to tell me that the dimmer switch was located on the floor board! I had no idea I was totally cutting off my lights. I wonder if the other driver messed his pants! At any rate, she yelled at me to turn the lights back on and to hit the thing in the floor to dim them. So, I was stomping my foot all over the floor and looking for it at the same time which meant I had to take my eyes off the road. She grabbed the wheel from me. The car was overflowing with adrenaline and estrogen. Still, I don’t think she made me pull over. I think (or maybe I blocked the memory!) she let me continue driving the rest of the way home. She was probably trembling too badly to take over anyway!
You think that taught her to never let me drive again? Nope! She took me to get my driver’s license after that episode. Yes, my Peg was a brave soul. The examination was given at our local courthouse, and the driving portion was administered by a deputy. Our family happened to be friends with the Sheriff. He came by to say hello and to tell the deputy to treat me good because I was his cousin. I really wasn’t but his last name was the same as my mother’s maiden name, so it was a joke between us. Anyway, I anxiously poked and followed every direction EXACTLY. I was granted my license. When Peg, and I exited the building to get into her car (yes, she even let me use HER car!) she shook her head and proclaimed that she could not believe that I was double parallel parked. Did I know that was illegal? Well, I just did what the deputy told me to do. She argued that he was probably testing me. So, why did he give me my license I asked my smarty pants sister. And you know what? She still let me drive home. I tell you the girl was not a quick learner!