DRIVER ON BOARD

Well, it’s happened.

My last little chick has sprouted wings (to match his cute little horns) and passed his driver’s license test. Don’t ask me why it took 2 years past the expected date to accomplish the task, but it did. I am not complaining about that at all, by the way. Frankly, (and you people better not tell him I am saying this), I would not have wanted him driving at 16. At 16, Austin was still accusing inanimate objects of bad behavior and was incapable of closing a cabinet door.

Now that he’s 18, he closes cabinet doors, but is incapable of locking the door to the house. You know, the door that, when unlocked, allows bad people to come in and either kill you or take all your stuff.

Hopefully he will be better about locking the car. As for me, I once had a cute little Mitsubishi convertible that was broken into 3 times as it sat parked behind my condo. The fourth time, it was in the parking lot at the office. I got so tired of replacing windows and/or slashed convertible tops that I seriously considered just leaving the car unlocked from that point on.

(Not actual car. Well, it is an actual car, but not MY actual car.)

Jerks. Took all the fun out of owning that.

Anyway, Austin succeeded in getting his license on something like his 5th trip to the DMV. The DMV is apparently a lot like Home Depot, in that one trip is never enough. You always forget something. I have never known a single person who can visit Home Depot just once in a weekend. If you go once, believe me, you’re going 2-3 more times.

The first trip to the friendly and helpful DMV, (snicker), the vehicle’s inspection sticker was out of date. The second trip turned out to be a national holiday, so they sat staring angrily at a locked door. The third time, Austin actually made it into the vehicle to begin the test, which unfortunately involved parallel parking as the first step – a strict Pass or Fail element. Austin had NEVER parallel parked before. You can imagine how well that went.

(Okay, this didn’t happen.)

The fourth visit to the DMV took place on Tuesday of this week, with a scheduled appointment. Only, the appointment was actually scheduled for Thursday, so Robert’s head exploded. In public. Is anyone else beginning to picture this whole mission as doomed?

Well, not so fast. Dearest mother-in-law, Didi, stepped into the yawning breach of Austin’s driver’s license pursuit on Thursday and I was very pleased to get a message in the afternoon from the 6,100 texts a month texter: I PASSED THE DRIVER’S TEST!!!!!

That’s the first good news I’ve had all week. I treasure the thought of his independence – and the thought that neither his father nor I have to get up early on weekends to drive him to work anymore.

At least, I will treasure his independence until the first accident, at which time, my head will explode.

May it be a long time coming.

For now, “DRIVE, Austin, DRIVE!!”

And keep your eyes on the road.

And both hands on the wheel.

And for God’s sake, DON’T TEXT WHILE YOU DRIVE OR I WILL BREAK YOUR NIMBLE LITTLE FINGERS.

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DID YOU SAY EATING OR BEATING?

Dinner with the folks is losing what little luster it once had.  Sure, we go to expensive restaurants that are not in my normal operating budget, but I also have to sit with my mother and stepfather for 2.5 hours. During that 2.5 hours, I spend a lot of time praying for the waiter or waitress. “Please Lord, don’t let them overfill the water-glass. Please Lord, let them bring hot bread, and butter that is not frozen solid.”  Believe me, if these prayers are not answered, we are going to hear about it for the rest of the meal, and in a loud enough tone that the entire restaurant will be aware of the deficiencies.

At one delightful Sunday family brunch I was sawing away at my wrist with a butter knife as I listened to my mother complaining about the temperature in the room, the glare from the windows, and the way the hostess had looked at her.  When the waiter placed a champagne cocktail in front of her that did not contain the requisite cube of sugar with a drop of bitters, I thought the world had ended.  “Oh my goodness…they can’t be serious. No sugar cubes? Well, I don’t want this…”

My stepfather interrupted from the other end of the table in an effort to resolve the issue. “Annette! What do you want?” As we waited for her response, my brother piped in, “To complain.” 

I swear the waiter giggled.

Each extravagant meal takes on some hellish theme involving the food, the service, or the atmosphere. Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, it’ll be a combination of the three. But regardless of what happens during the appetizer, entrée, and dessert, the tension mounts as we anticipate the waiter’s arrival to clear.

This can go badly in so many ways. If you are in the food service industry, let me give you a couple of tips on dealing with my parents. (And probably others of that older generation.) First, do not try to take the plate of someone who has finished while others are still eating. This  spawns at the very least a reprimand / etiquette lesson and at the worst, a call to your mother telling her she’s incompetent as a parent. Trust me.  Do not remove plates until everyone has “closed” them. Second – and this sometimes happens in unison with removing the plates too soon – DO NOT ASK “Are you through working on this?” If you do ask such a thing, you will be on the receiving end of a glare from my stepfather that is so potent it can render you unconscious. He will then explain to you that he is NOT, in fact, WORKING on anything. He is enjoying his dinner. YOU, my friend, are WORKING, and obviously not doing a very good job of it.

I still remember my birthday dinner a few months ago ending this way:  A manager at our table, and a ten minute lecture on teaching his staff that diners / customers are not WORKING.  This is when I typically excuse myself to the ladies room (a.k.a. bar).

Good luck to us all out there. Easter is coming and Mother’s Day isn’t far behind. May your plates be full, your waitstaff competent and your butter knife handy.