"I can't wait till I can drive."
"Dude, yeah right! Car pool is the shit! You don't have to pay for gas, if you get in a wreck it's not your fault, and whoever's dad is driving is never gonna suspect we have all that pot in our backpacks. I don't ever want my own car."
"Yeah. Uh-huh. Sure."
Sophomore year. The year we all get our permits. We show everyone our permit picture, saying, "It's SOOOO bad! I look AWWWFULLL!" just so everyone else will say, "No! You look GREAT! You're SOOOO photogenic!" We think it's so cool that we can drive now, when really we look younger than ever driving next to our mommies and daddies, who constantly gasp and violently grip the dashboard when we make a turn. As if they weren't suspecting it. Even when we're in the turn lane and there's the green arrow glaring at us in the face.
"Okay, honey. You have your permit now, I think we should go driving, don't you?"
"YES! WOO HOO! HELL YEAH!"
"Okay, now just go where I tell you to. Pull out of the driveway and take a right."
"OH YEAH! I GOT THIS MO' FO'!"
"Now take a left out of our cul de sac."
"THIS IS SO EXILARATING! WAIT TIL I GET ON THE ROAD AND SHOW IT WHO'S BOSS!"
"Now take a left."
"Mom...it's a right to get out of the neighborhood."
"I thought today we'd just make some loop-de-loops around our streets."
"You know, up and down the hills. The BIG hills. Isn't that exciting?!"
"No, that's lame."
"Not if we go at 30 miles per hour!"
"Where are you going? We haven't gone up the BIG HILL yet!"
Junior year. The year we all get our licenses. The year we're ready to roll with the big boys. The year we can blast the music and wear our stunna shades. The year we are forced to take responsibility for the reckless things we do to our cars.
"Dad? Hey. It's Natasha. I'm safe."
"I'm safe, and everyone here is safe. We are all very safe."
"So, I need to tell you something. But remember: we're all safe."
"What is it."
When parents get angry, there is no such thing as questions. They all just sound like short, concise sentences. Direct and to the point. But we can't be fooled. We know they're really questions.
"You know how I went to get coffee this morning with some friends?"
"I was pulling out of the parking garage..."
"What were you doing in a parking garage."
"That was the only parking there, and there was this column..."
"What did you do. Natasha."
"I hit the column and there is a dent. In the car. There is a dent in the car and we're all safe but the column was huge and you know how our car is kind of huge and there just wasn't enough room and I thought I could make it but I didn't see how close that side was to the column and it scraped against it and somehow put a dent a huge dent in the car and I'm really, really, really sorry and I'll pay for it and everything so really you don't have to worry about it and we are all very safe."
"Come home right now."
Of course there was yelling. And screaming. And staring. At the dent and at me. (Cold, hard stare at me, curious, thoughtful stare at the dent.) It's all a blur to me now. All I remember are a few facts about the dent that were said in a period of about 10 minutes:
"Natasha, this is going to cost us TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS!"
"I'm so sorry! It was an accident! I'm really sorry!"
"I don't have the money to waste on fixing a dent. This is going to cost us at least ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!"
"I'm always so careful! I thought I could make it! I'll pay for it, I promise!"
"Natasha! You can't pay for this dent! This is going to cost us SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!"
"I have the money! I can pay for it! I have it in the bank!"
"You can't spend the money you have saved in the bank! That's going to be FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!"
Yeah. I never actually found out the real price it would be to fix the dent. But I didn't have to pay for it. Although I would have much preferred paying as my punishment than the horror that was to come...
"Yeah! I burned it last night so we could blast it on our way to school!"
"Woo-hoo! Put it in!"
Low and behold, the most massive, most silver, most evil piece of duck tape I had ever seen was stretched across not only the CD slot, but the seek buttons, volume knobs, and YES, even the power button.
"Well that sucks."
"What should we do now?"
"We could sing?"
"I only know the words to one song."
Did I mention it takes me and my sister 30 minutes to drive to school? And that my car radio was duck-taped for the entire month of February? I never want to hear Judy Garland's "I've Got Rhythm" again.
Some people don't need to worry about wrecking their parent's car. Some people have their own cars. To drive in. To wreck in. And to get it on in.
"There's a condom in the back seat."
"Yeah. It's on the floor."
"No, just in the package."
"Oh, good. But still! What is a condom doing back there?!"
"I don't know, it's your car."
"Throw it out!"
"It's not littering if you throw it into someone's car as they drive by."
"I'm not going to smack someone in the face with a condom while they are driving!"
"Wait till we're at a red light."
"Because what if the light stays red a really long time and they yell at me and throw it back at me?"
"They're not going to throw the condom back at you. That's just silly."
"Well I think it's silly to throw condoms at people!"
"You're the one who won't just throw it out the window!"
"Littering is against the law!"
"So are minors in possession of condoms!"
"You just made that up!"
"No I didn't! You have to be 21 to buy a condom!"
"No you don't!"
"Yeah-huh! Why do you think I've never bought a condom before?"
"Because you're a girl."
"Because you aren't having sex."
"Then why would you buy a condom?"
"Just throw it out the window, okay?"
"Fine...OH MY GOD I JUST HIT THAT MAN WITH IT! DRIVE! DRIVE!"
Things were much less complicated when we carpooled.