The Cameron Column #98
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My Daughters are Driving
Copyright 1999 W. Bruce Cameron
http://www.wbrucecameron.com

      My daughters are driving.

      Let me explain what this means. It means that two teenage girls whose primary method of observation is "distraction" are out there aiming tons of metal at everything moving.

      When you see one of my daughters approaching, do not panic. You should (a) pull your vehicle over to the side of the road, and (b) lie face-down in a ditch.

      You can tell which car is ours: It has a drooping left headlight where my daughter had a disagreement with our shubbery about sharing the same space-time continuum. Various other craters and creases attest to the rough life the poor vehicle has led the past few years; the same girls who used to display perpetually scraped knees have changed the medium of their art to sheet metal. The standing joke in our household is that when the horn is pressed, the car doesn't go "honk," it goes "ouch."

      If it is my youngest daughter at the wheel, she is required by law to have a hysterical parent screaming at her from the passenger seat. This is a condition of her "learner's permit," though what she is supposed to be learning is not exactly clear to me, since she insists that when I provide instruction it "makes her crash."

      If it is my oldest daughter driving, she will be too busy fiddling with the radio to make note of your presence, so you'd better take evasive action. (I've read somewhere that human beings have 100 billion neurons in their brains, but only use 5 billion of these at any given time. When teenagers get behind the wheel, they don't use ANY.)

      My wife, unhappy being seen around town in a vehicle whose color is best described as "rumpled brown," has suggested more than once that we should have a body shop perform cosmetic surgery. No dear, I tell her, that is why God created duct tape. (I do not own a single air duct, but I have purchased enough duct tape to qualify for the Furnace Worker's Discount. I've so thoroughly taped our automobile it looks like a prop from the movie "Secret of the Mummy's Car.")

      When my oldest daughter turned sixteen, all we could think of was how convenient it would be to have another driver in the house. I didn't realize that bits and pieces of my automobile would soon be scattered around town as if it were an animal marking its territory. Nor did I realize I was to receive accident reports like this one:

Officer Dad:What happened to the side of the car?
Daughter:I don't know.
Officer Dad:You don't know? When you left an hour ago, it was fine. Now it needs to be duct-taped.
Daughter:I guess it was the tree.
Officer Dad:What tree?
Daughter:You expect me to remember exactly? It was a tree!
Officer Dad:Where was this tree?
Daughter:(Exasperated.) Well by the side of the car, duh!
Officer Dad:(Deadly patient.) Where was the car when you hit the tree?
Daughter:Well, I didn't HIT it. I rubbed it.
Officer Dad:And where exactly did you RUB this tree?
Daughter:They shouldn't have trees so close to where people park their cars! (Bursts into tears.)

      I suppose there are SOME advantages to having another driver's license in the family. For example, my daughter is always available to pick up a video at the movie rental place--just not to return it. ("Well there's always a late fee," she explained when I asked her about this.) And if it hadn't been for my daughter, I never would have found out how far below the "E" my gas gauge will go before the engine sputters into silence. (She routinely leaves me with just enough fuel to make it to the end of the driveway.) And if Y2K shuts down the country, I won't have to worry about running out of gum wrappers--I have a year's supply stuffed under my seat and in the car's ash try.

      In six months, the learner's period will expire, and my youngest will be legally eligible to rub trees without an adult present.

      I'm going to stock up on duct tape now, just in case Y2K interrupts the supply.


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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1999
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