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The Back Seat Driver

Life's Crazy™

Courtesy of

You know what's crazy? I'll tell you what's crazy™

The Back Seat Driver.

My son just completed driving school.

He took the week-long class with all his buddies.

"It'll be fun dad," he says.

Driving school fun? It's not like it's camp. It's not like he's gonna go fishing, canoeing and roast marshmallows.

It's about seeing videos and weak ass driving simulators.


This new generation is different.

Fun to me is a beach vacation. Fun to me is a hot air balloon ride. Fun to me is putting a high performance automobile into 6th gear and not caring whether the highway patrol is working that day.

But for this new millennial of kids, driving school with your buddies is exciting.

So every morning this week, we left the house at 8 am, armed with a driving pamphlet and $5 for lunch.

Every day he returned with stories of driving on the interstate and illegal left turns and horror stories of texting and driving.

Every day, he and his 3 buddies go to driving school for 8 hours, learning about "blood on the highways."

15-year-old boys getting their permits? It's a necessary evil, I suspect.

After a week of non stop learning, my son passed, his friends passed, everyone armed with certificates of completion.

The diploma is sitting proudly in my kitchen, a reminder that soon a whole slew of new drivers is ready to hit the street and my insurance company ready to rake me over the coals once again.

The school must be good because the boys know their stuff.

Q:What does an eight sided sign mean?

A: Mixed Martial Arts training arena, of course.

Q: At an intersection which car goes first?

A: The guy with the bigger middle finger.

Q: Why can't you rely on another driver's signal light to turn?

A: Because they're dumber than cat excrement. The common driver is the equivalent of driving trichinosis, a raw pork chop consumed by blind people tied to the stupid post.

So new drivers armed with driving knowledge; that's the good news.

The bad news? New drivers armed with driving knowledge.

I'm taking my son and his 3 friends to the lake.

I pull up to the stop.

"Stop behind the white line, dad."

I look at the snarky kid to my right.

I turn on my left turn signal.

"Nice blinker, sir," comes the cynical little chirp from the back seat.

I look at the little green arrow.

On. Off. On. Off.

What? I think to myself.

I make my left turn.

"Oh nice," one kid says.

"Infraction," a 2nd sniper blurts out.

"you are suppose to turn into the lane closest to you, dad," the snarky one next to me says.

I look at him with a quizzical stare.

"Who are you? Driving Confucius? You take one class and you think you're qualified to write for Road and Track?"

"I did get a 100 on my driver's test, dad."

"What? You have like 8 hours behind the wheel of an automobile."

He looks at me blankly, with a 15-year-old face that reveals nothing, but reminds me that hormones and jagged thoughts and adolescent angst is churning just below the surface.

"I had more hours of community service at the local animal shelter at your age than you have driving."

Though I'm in the front seat, the boys look at me like I am talking to them from another time, another dimension.

Community service? They don't even know what 'm talking about?

This is the Just Say No generation. This generation thinks getting free movies on the internet  is dangerous.

They are A students. They never fight. They never get into trouble. Suspensions?, detention?, police stations? It's just not an issue with this bunch. These new drivers are about sports and soccer and talk about silly apps on their i phones.

I come to a red light and stop; behind the white line.

These jr. drivers have this old man thinking.

How do I drive? I don't remember a damn thing from my driving test. It was 35 years ago.

Question 6: When a large truck wants to pass you, what should you do?

A: Flip the truck driver the bird and if possible pull down your pants and show him your ass cheeks pressed into the glass so it makes a flattened white distorted image like a rotting ass-pumpkin that causes him to laugh and possibly crash.

I took my driver's ed course from an old guy named Colonel something or other. He was a million years old and he served in WWII. I'm sure he was a great guy, but to me he was Colonel Mustard in the Library with the lead pipe. I mean he was from a generation I couldn't relate to. I had long hair and he wore a crew cut. He had control of the little car we drove, but to me, I was Mario Andretti and he was an old dude just waiting to pull the covers up over his chin and take a snooze.

I drive down the road. The speed limit is 40 mph.

"Way to drive 11 over dad."

I look down. I'm doing 51 mph.

This is getting ridiculous, I think to myself.

But under the watchful guise of 8 eyes, I reduce my speed.

"put your thumbs on the outside of the wheel," someone chides from the back seat. "That way they won't break if you crash."

I grit my teeth, but move my thumbs.

"Ten and two, dad. Ten and two."

I look at the steering wheel.

Have I freaking forgot everything?, I wonder.

I drive forward like an old woman.

People are flying by me. They are texting and driving and letting poodles sit on their laps and polishing their cuticles and talking on cell phones and driving with their left legs out the window and here I am held hostage by 4 snarky ass teenagers who have a brain full of old laws and new ideas how to implement them.

I don't want to be chastised anymore so I try and obey the laws.

The problem is, I drive by memory, by braille, by common sense.

I might be able to pass a driving test. Then again, maybe not.

But I haven't had a moving violation or accident in a decade.

Perhaps I'm doing something right.

I smile at the new drivers all around me.

They are snarky, but they are intelligent and trustworthy and good kids.

They are smarter than me and my buddies and will make fewer stupid choices, I am sure.

"Put your blinker on 50 feet before the turn, dad."

I smile in my head, as I put my blinker on.

"Nice job, sir."

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