How I learned to drive
Actually there are two parts to this story: 1. Driving Lessons, and 2. Driving Practice.
As for learning, there wasn't that much to it. I knew beyond a doubt that I didn't want my parents teaching me. My mother was a self-avowed non-teacher, and my father drove like a maniac -- and I don't mean that in a good way. Not like one of the colorful Italian maniacs I was discussing yesterday, but more like a general, all-purpose, universal, one-size-fits-all, certifiable maniac. A hazard to humankind all over the globe for the entire span of his career. I don't say that out of disrespect, but out of respect for the truth. People can have their faults, but after a certain point it's one's duty to warn others.
I could say a lot of good things about him, but at the moment the topic is driving. My mother tells a story about a Neapolitan traffic tangle in which a madman leaps out of another car and prances around my parents' car in a rage, wielding a hatchet. Even the first time I heard the story, my reaction was that the man probably had a good reason.
When I was about 32 he ran a stop sign through a busy street with me in the passenger seat. I looked to my right to see three lanes of cars screeching to a halt beside me. Pop didn't notice, but continued merrily through the intersection without a scratch.
I suddenly realized for the first time that I had a choice. I don't know why it took me that long. I made a silent vow never again to ride in a car that he was driving. I never told him that -- it would have hurt his feelings -- I just silently arranged it.
Next I'll do part one, Driving Lessons, and after that I'll do part 2, Driving Practice. Part 2 is a little hairy -- some of you may want to close your eyes.