Sunday, March 28, 2010

Driving In Cars With Boys: A Side By Side Droll Story

It begins innocently, bumper cars. We sat side by side and Jackson slammed into other cars; grinning and stretching his legs to make it go faster. Faster and faster. We moved up to Go Kart World. Every city has one. Jackson's on his own in this one. This is a concrete track and there are other kids wilting in the sun. Not Jackson; he races and bangs and hollers, then heads for the line to do it again. His father tucks him inside a race car on the adult track, the fast track. Jackson's arms are in the air and he is yelling faster, faster. The last track is perfect too, just a bit of oil slick on concrete that makes delicious slides and Jackson is yelling, faster faster.

Jackson now has a learners permit in one hand and my car keys in the other. I suddenly remember NPR's story on the teenage brain (you know, the "what were you thinking" thing). This "That's because the nerve cells that connect teenagers' frontal lobes with the rest of their brains are sluggish. Teenagers don't have as much of the fatty coating called myelin, or "white matter," that adults have in this area."

 Sluggish teenage brain? Frontal lobes not fully connected yet? Car keys?

He's got that grin, the one that yells faster, faster. I think of reasons why we shouldn't do this and know I don't stand a chance. Of course he has to drive. He's responsible and ... suddenly I remember there is a radio in the car and if he doesn't like what's playing, he changes it. I don't know how to take the radio out. I scowl and nod. I have to do this. I'll be patient and kind but say things like - keep your distance, there is a speed limit, yes red brake lights means that the driver in front is doing something and you must slow down. He's grinning, relaxed. My feet are pressing the floor on the passenger side and doing nothing. And I'm thinking slower, slower.

 Foreshadowing much?

Smiles and laughs quickly turn to road rage and yelling when I am driving. I personally know for a fact that I am a wonderful driver. Just because I don't attempt to dodge imaginary objects and animals that she frequently yells for me to evade doesn't cease to feed my belief about how smooth of a driver I am. I have figured out several things while on the road, behind the wheel; the speed limit is a suggestion, stop signs are optional, I always have the right of way, and that yellow lights mean speed up. Just because I blast music, and yell in unnecessary situations doesn't mean that I'm not the best driver on the road. If everyone in the world drove like me, there would be world peace, no doubt about it. I was thinking about picking up some non core driving gloves, possibly red leather or purple suede just to show how seriously I take driving.


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