Thursday, February 22, 2007
Another driver in the family
I got most of my “growing up” driving experience on motorcycles and slipped by with only a few minor accidents.
But when my mom bought me that shiny, new black Malibu Classic, it was my pride and joy.
She just told me, “Wreck it and you will buy the next one.”
I was 16 years old, showing off a new driver’s license and ready to do some cruising around the big city of Hamilton, Ala. And I had to drive 12 miles one way just to get to town and school.
I washed the Malibu when it didn’t need washing. It was the cleanest vehicle I’ve ever owned, and black cars are the hardest to keep clean.
These days I’m sure it would be a not-so-cool car for teenagers. Back then was top of the line - at least in my mind.
It even had a cassette player.
I wanted to drive and drive and drive some more. Staying at home had suddenly become very uncommon.
Those memories of my first car were stirred this week when the Burlesons became a three-car family for the first time. This all happened too fast.
It’s hard to believe I have a daughter old enough to get her driver’s license. Just yesterday, it seems, I was teaching her to ride a bicycle and going with her on her first day of school.
We had tried to put it off as long as we could, stalling and not mentioning much and so on, but finally Pam carried Emma to get her license.
She called me immediately after becoming an official intermediate driver. Her excitement reminded me much of my own - 30 years ago.
She woke up Saturday morning and jumped at the chance to drive to the grocery store and get some bacon for breakfast. She was even asking if there was anything else she could go pick up for us. That afternoon she took her brother and sister and treated them to Sonic.
Later Saturday she drove to her best friend’s house to show off her “new,” 1997 Toyota. I like the price of the tag, estimated at only $40.
She’s been just sitting in it with the radio or CD player turned up loud.
Sunday evening after church she volunteered to take her brother and sister to McDonald’s and buy their supper.
She’s working part-time now, too.
Suddenly, I feel a bit older.
And with one of your children driving comes plenty of worry, too.
I’ve already said “be careful” about 50 times I’m sure.
It makes me understand more what my mother went through with her son back in the late 1970s.
I drove that black Malibu through high school and college. Then I switched to a smaller, light brown, new Cavalier with a sun roof. I was extremely cool then.
I moved to Fulton back in 1984 driving the Cavalier. I figured I’d drive it forever.
A few years later I traded the Cavalier for a new, navy and tan Chevrolet Blazer, I was playing a lot of softball and coaching youth baseball at the time and needed something to haul all that equipment. Actually, that was a good excuse. I just decided it was time for something else, and a Blazer quickly became my first choice.
It’s the last new vehicle I’ve owned.
I kept that Blazer until several years after Pam and I were married. I got my money’s worth and more.
Then I switched to a used Jeep. which I sold after moving to Holly Springs. Next I got Pam’s hand-me-down Explorer, because our five-member family needed a van. Next came my present SportTrac.
Odds are with a soon-to-be 16-year-old driving, a soon-to-be 13-year-old already talking about what vehicle he wants and a 5-year-old who will be 15 before I know it, I will be driving that SportTrac for about 15 years or so.
Then maybe I can retire and get that motor home.
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