Monday, June 17, 2013

Top Down, Radio On

We have a little ritual in our house when the mail comes. My teenage daughter makes a detour from wherever she was headed and optimistically asks, "Anything for me?"

Other than tack catalogues from horse supply companies, the answer is usually "No."

I blame it on texting and Facebook. Being an analog girl myself, I try to explain that she would probably get more cards and letters and packages if she actually sent more (as in, any) cards and letters and packages. This argument is met with a blank stare. As are so many others. But, I digress.

This weekend, the mail arrived and, lo and behold, there was something that wasn't meant for me or my husband. It was hand addressed to "New Driver." So, not only was the teen pleased to have received mail, she was particularly excited because the greater world — by way of the USPS — was acknowledging a pending milestone. 

In September, my daughter will be 16.

Apparently, this is not news to the local driving school that had reached out to her. ("Full RMV certified Drivers education program" "FREE PARENT CLASS" "We take you from start to finish with door to door pick up!" "READY SET GO!") In delightfully punctuation-free copy, they stipulate "Must be 15 and 3/4s" and "Looking forward to meeting you :)" Yes, the emoticon is actually part of the printed postcard. 'Talk about knowing your audience.

Over the weekend, my daughter turned — you guessed it — "15 and 3/4s." She is very eager to start studying.

Although the postcard was certainly meant for my daughter, the title "New Driver" could apply to me too. If, that is, I was being compared to other 51-year olds. My husband was one of those people who got his license the very day (almost the very second) that he could. Me? Not so much. I got my license at 28.

In my defense, I grew up in New York City, where having a car is not only unnecessary, it's a painfully expensive pain-in-the-you-know-what. They didn't offer driver's ed at my high school, and I can't think of a single girl I graduated with who was driving when we all left for college. When I relocated as a young adult, I merely went from a large city to a small city. I traded subways for the T and remained, quite happily, license-free for several more years. It wasn't until I moved in with my boyfriend about 20 miles up the coast from Boston that I had to actually get behind the wheel of a car. Nervous at first, I soon realized that there were people on the road who were worse (way worse) drivers than I was. 

My first two cars were what my husband and I refer to as "les boits de merde." Cheap and used and barely functional. My third car, though, was new and red and shiny and had a ragtop. It was (and is) a 1991 Mazda Miata. We only use it in the summer (not exactly a smart option for icy New England roads, as I learned through trial and error), so it's still on the road and still looks fabulous. I love that car! When our daughter was little, I joked that it would be hers someday.

Guess what ... as we've just been reminded, "someday" is just 1/4 of a year away. (Note to self: do not make promises to eager toddlers unless you plan to see them through.) She has made it very clear that the original agreement is not negotiable.

Now, before you decide that my daughter is an even bigger princess than she is, please note that the car she will be getting is more than 20 years old and has more than 110,000 miles on it. She will only be driving it to and from the stable, two towns away. If and when I ever let her drive on the highway (cue major gulp here), she will have to drive one of the bigger, heavier, safer sedans.

Sorry, daughter dearest. But that is (really) not negotiable.

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