Sunday, March 09, 2008

Why I didn't learn to drive

My last teen years were spent in Naples Italy, where I held these truths to be self evident:
1. To drive there successfully, you have to be insane.
2. If you're going to be the perpetually frightened passenger, you will become insane.

I slipped into the role of the relaxed, unfrightened passenger, and kept my sanity. By the time I actually turned 18, driving age in Italy, I was majorly not interested in taking the wheel. My parents were fine with me being stuffed into smoke-filled Fiat 500s with six or seven Italians and being driven around by maniacs. Neither I nor my parents worried, because clearly these people knew how to drive like maniacs correctly -- unlike the occasional American or German driver seen on the streets, immediately identifiable by their attempts to drive cautiously, causing near accidents right and left.

I left Italy at nineteen to attend university in Oregon. I lived in the dorms and had no need or desire to drive anywhere. When I eventually moved off campus I got a bike. By this time I'm about twenty, so now you know why I hadn't learned to drive thus far. I thought I was safer not driving -- until I travelled about a couple thousand miles southward. That's where I changed my mind.

The next episode will reveal: Why in the end I finally did learn to drive.

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