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How I Learned (Why I'll Never Learn) To Drive

I have a disturbing little secret. Okay, it’s not that bad, but it’s not the sort of thing you reveal until at least the third date. I am 22 years old and cannot drive.

My top three biggest issues with  not having a license are: 1) you’re completely dependent on the kindness of your parents and friends to get you places; forget about ever feeling like a remotely competent human adult 2) you lose a boatload of money on cabs-conversely, you get to become friends with cab drivers, 3) you have to carry around your passport if you want to get into a bar; in case this was not completely obvious, alcohol and pocket-sized government forms of identification are a TERRIBLE mix.

However, I’ve come to realize that it’s not my fault that I can’t drive: it’s in my genes. The simple fact is I descend from a long maternal line of female non-drivers; we’re three generations of anti-feminist car jokes.

Let’s start with Grandma Hazel. Her husband, a World War II navigator who guided plans with failing engines over the Atlantic and safely landed them outside of Nazi territory, tried super hard to teach her how to drive, but to no avail. Grandma Hazel claims she was very close to passing her exam, but sped up and got nervous at the end because she really needed to go to the bathroom. I pretty much believe this, since the weak bladder has been passed down my maternal line, as well.

Then, there is my mom, who can actually drive, but prefers almost any activity less excruciating than a double root canal to the act of driving. My mother spent the first twenty some odd years of her life residing in places where she had no need for driving. Then, in 1987, she persuaded my dad that they should ditch their apartment in the Village and move to the suburbs (and what a swell idea that was) and her public transportation world caved in on her. She was a trooper, navigating the suburbs without the ability to drive and with two kids in tow – and let the record state these were two kids that did not like walking! I don’t know if this is the official straw that broke the camel’s back, and thereby paralyzed her last form of non-automobile transportation, but not being able to drive my dad to the ER when he fell down our stairs and broke his wrist was a likely factor in her learning to drive.

And learn she did! She practiced with my father and her father and she passed the road test. Yet, while New York State has faith in her driving abilities, she does not. My mother drives really well, but driving with her is like taking out a loan from Bank of America; there are lots of restrictions and hidden fees. She does not drive on highways, outside of Southern Westchester or in parking garages.  If you want to go to the mall, be prepared to park at least two kilometers away and hoof it.< I am currently trying to reverse the female familial trend by taking driving lessons with a kind Portuguese senior citizen named Cyro who is encouraging, if dubious, of my vehicular potential. A person of average, baseline driving capacity could have passed the road test at least two to three times with all the hours and lessons of practicing I’ve had. However, the undeniable truth of the matter is that when it comes to driving, I am all thumbs. Literally. Please, get out of my way if you see me attempting a three-point turn. You can read more from Emily Suzanne Shire on her blog.

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