Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bend Over, I'll Drive

Subtitle: F&#K you, Margaret Zuidema*.

This weekend, my mom married Jack, and invited some of my close friends and some of my sister, Patti's, to the wedding and reception. My sister and I were a year apart in school and had different groups of friends, but of course some of them knew (or at least recognized) each other. At one point during the reception, I brought my friend, Kathyconnolly over to Patti's table to talk to some of her friends that I thought Kath might have known...including Margaret Zuidema. They politely said "Hello" to each other, but there was not much recognition on either's part and Kathyconnolly went back to her table while I chatted with Margaret for a few more minutes.

Margaret casually mentioned to me, "You know, the last time Patti and I got together, we were talking about that day we dropped you off at driver's ed." A lightbulb went off in my head as I remembered just how she and Kathyconnolly knew each other. I ran over, grabbed Kathyconnolly and screamed, "You know Margaret because she and Patti are the ones who got us blackballed from behind-the-wheel." Kathyconnolly ran over, screamed, "F&#K you, Margaret Zuidema" (In a friendly, kidding way, of course), and within moments all of the teen angst came rushing back...

Back in the day, Kathyconnolly and I were taking a summer class for driving instruction so we could then get our learner's permits. Each morning for a week or two, we would meet in a high school parking lot, assemble on a bus where a tight-shorts-wearing-angry-that-he-was-teaching-this-god-forsaken-class-during-the-summer-just-to-earn-a-few-extra-bucks P.E. teacher would provide some instruction, and then we'd leave the bus to get into some cars in the parking lot to practice what we had learned.

And, since my sister and Margaret already had their driver's licenses, they were sometimes (unhappily) tasked with hauling us around...especially when we had to go somewhere legit (like behind-the-wheel classes).

Because they were forced to drive us, Margaret decided they should at least make it interesting one day when she was driving (my sister was in the passenger seat and Kathyconnolly and I were in back). As we neared the high school, Margaret drove about a million miles an hour into the parking lot, did a loud, squealing donut around the instruction bus and then came to a screeching halt right next to the open bus door. Kathyconnolly and I slunk out of the back seat and up the bus steps. As Margaret and Patti sped away without a care in the world to go buy Slurpees (or whatever it was they did with all of their drivers-license-having freedom), Kathyconnolly and I were forced to stand at the front of the bus and be made an example of for the benefit of all our behind-the-wheel classmates. Angry P.E. teacher screamed for twenty minutes about how that was a prime example of how NOT to drive a car and how we should always be concerned about safety and how irresponsible we were. (Please keep in mind that WE were not driving, had no control over how Margaret drove and wanted to crawl under the bus and die.)

We did manage to get through it and ran home and told my mom maturely dealt with the situation. We naively believed we had reached a detente as Patti drove us to behind-the-wheel the next day. She pulled into the parking lot slowly and carefully...and continued driving slowly and carefully as she deliberately ran over each and every orange pylon set up for our class.

*Margaret thought this was hilarious...so please don't think I am in any way disrespecting (or "dissing" as the kids say) her.

14 comments:

JenBC said...

Oh golly. Those scenes are straight out of a stellar and surely to be oft-quoted -- *when* it reaches the screen -- coming of age flick. Takes me way back to my driver's ed days too. What was with those guys and their attitudes and ill fitting shorts?

Brutalism said...

Dunno, Jen, but it did seem to be a job requirement.

dilettante07 said...

What I want to know was, why did you guys meet on a bus? That's just random...and also perfect for the movie version.

Brutalism said...

No idea. The whole deal was so random. I guess they figured it was a place to contain us outside where we'd have to pay attention.

Bradford said...

Wow - immediately flashbacked to my abrupt termination from being allowed to drive during driving class. Somehow, I got it my head the yellow stop signs applied only to trucks. As we approached a train track, I quickly checked left and right - no trains - and drove through without stopping. Yellow stop sign. The car had a bread pedal on the driver's side for the instructor. When we cleared the track, he hit the pedal, hard. My forehead hit the steering wheel (this was 1974 BL - Before Lawsuits). He said, verbatim, "What the F$%& are you doing?" At that point, I looked in the back seat and the three other students were just then lifting their heads and getting up off the floor.
If anyone else has heard of this "only trucks stop at yellow stop signs" rule, please tell me. Seeking vindication and an end to the suffering...

dilettante07 said...

I only stop on red, and even then, only occasionally. The guy was probably hadn't rammed anyone's head into a steering wheel yet that day and he was getting the DTs because of it.

Jason the Absurdist said...

While not quite as dramatic we had a driving instructor I'll just call Mr. B. because, well, that was his name.

One day on the bus heading to school we were a couple miles from the parking lot when we saw an accident in the distance. As traffic crept closer we started saying that they clearly needed a driving expert so someone should call Mr. B. Remember this was the days before cell phones so "call" really meant yell out the window". Which we did.

Upon passing the accident we realized that calling Mr B. was unnecessary. He was already there: He'd rear-ended someone and done serious damage to both cars so from the open windows he must have heard us yelling "Don't call MR. B. IT *IS* Mr. B!"

Somehow he kept his job.

ZenMom said...

see. This is why I 'm addicted to, um, I mean, a fan for your blog: You give such good story. :)

Congrats to your Mom and Jack, by the way. I assume everyone kept their clothes on during there ceremony? ;)

Brutalism said...

ZM - Thanks on mom & Jack -- a wedding post will follow one of these days. I may have mentioned during my toast at the wedding that we all thought there was maybe a 50/50 chance of him having clothes on during the ceremony.

Brutalism said...

Bradford - I have never seen a yellow stop sign in my life. I think someone once told me that red stop signs with white borders were optional. (Took me a while to catch on to this one...)

ShutUpandRun said...

So awesome. I am going to do that to my kids someday. Then they can say F*&! you mom.

dilettante07 said...

I took driver's ed with my friend Jessica. Normally, our parents (we did not have awesome older siblings) would drop us off at the school, which was off campus. On one day, however, our instructor decided to pick us up right after school let out. Being the typical teenager, this idea was mortifying to me. Being a total jerk (and Jessica being either more secure or more clueless), I "offered" to let Jessica drive first (i.e., drive past everyone at school in the car with the giant "student driver" sign on the top). As gaggles of teenagers pointed and laughed and pretended to jump in front of the car, I ducked down in the back seat and let Jessica take all the teasing.

The woman has amazing powers of forgiveness because we are still great friends today. Or, maybe she just keeps me around so she can bring up this story in front of everyone I know.

kath said...

D07 - This is exactly why I invite Margaret Z to show up every 25 years.

I would like to point out that Mr. Underwood was our instructor and that the bus was a short bus. In the movie version I will be played by Ellen Page.

Brutalism said...

Kath -- that's because you ARE Juno. (Minus the teen pregnancy.) I bet Michael Cera told her she had george-ous teeth. Mr. Underwood could be played by James Gandolfini.