Thursday, October 15, 2009

Destined to Drive

The husband was clearly giddy when he walked through the front door last spring.

“How was the high school information meeting, dad?” the teenager naively queried.

“Oh, it was great!” the husband shouted, barely able to contain himself. “Did you know that you can get your permit when you turn 15 if you are enrolled in driver’s ed? 15!! That’s only a few months away! I have the paperwork right here! HOW. COOL. IS. THAT. Pretty soon, you will be able to drag race with me!” And with that he threw down the driver’s ed pamphlet on the living room table.

There was a family pause as the teenager, the boy and I all processed this shocking information.

The nearly 15 year old teenager finally stood up and announced with emphatic conviction to the family. “I am never, ever driving and YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!!”

The husband was dumbfounded. The boy called the teenager a big crazy chicken. I asked the husband if he had learned anything at this meeting about the benefits of AP Calculus versus AP Statistics. His answer to me was, “What does she mean she never wants to drive? How is that even possible?”

The disbelieving and disheartened husband spent the summer trying to convince the teenager that it was her innate destiny to become a driving enthusiast. Yet, when she turned 15 last week, she still had no desire to drive and she finally told us why.

“Well, I don’t want to drive…because…because…well…because I’m afraid that all the drivers on the road will be just like dad.”


Said the husband.

“I’m afraid,” the teenager continued, “That people like dad will honk at me if I do something stupid.”

The husband was gone a few days later when I took the teenager to an empty parking lot. She was not happy with me when she realized what we were there for. Eventually, however, she sat in the driver’s seat. Eventually she put the car in gear. Eventually she took her foot off the brake. And, eventually, we crept forward.

“Put your foot, gently, on the gas pedal.” I urged her.

And, eventually, she did. She pressed the gas pedal. Just enough. We rolled about 20 feet at 5 miles per hour.

And then she slammed her foot down on the brake. She turned her head toward me and I saw a look of satisfied shock on her face. Her wide, excited eyes and a huge, joyous grin filled up her face.

"OH………I LIKE THAT!” she said. “Now that…THAT was FUN!”

And as she pulled up the parking brake she looked at me again, this time with a look of panic on her face. “Oh, don’t you dare tell dad that I enjoyed that, ok? He can never know!”

The entire family was in the car the next day when the stoplight turned red. We came to a stop in front of a car dealership. The husband, as usual, surveyed the cars on the dealership’s lot. The teenager looked out the window and suddenly spoke up, “Oh, wow! Do you see that red sports car dad? Now that is a cool car! I’d definitely drive that car.”

The husband voiced his approval as a look of utmost contentment spread over his face. He turned to me and whispered, “Now THAT’S my girl. I knew she’d eventually come around to this whole driving thing.”

The husband grinned, looked forward to see that the light had turned green, and then honked his horn at the car in front of us who hadn’t started moving yet.

And from the backseat we could hear the teenager blurt out, “Not that I’m ever driving, however! In fact, I’m never, ever driving and you can’t make me!”

Check This Out!

Take a listen to RiverBend on their MySpace Music page. Mostly rock, a little grunge, a little bit indie--see if you like them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Becoming My Mother

It was when I started reading celebrity biographies that it occurred to me that I just might have…finally… become my mother. She loved those biographies. I had never been a fan of them myself. But, here I was, sitting on my bed, staring at a stack of biographies on the nightstand in front of me. I remember many times when my mother had in front of her, a similar stack, and would try to decide which biography to read first from the many she had picked out at the library. And here I was, so many years later, doing the very same thing.

I was aware that my transition to becoming my mother had started awhile ago. I had, for some time, been warning my family to throw out raw meat that had turned brown in the package. I cautioned them to watch out for falling pallets in warehouse stores. I had started carrying a Kleenex in my pocket and placing the children in front of me in family photos. I found myself becoming irrationally overprotective of my father and brothers. And, without thinking, I began to put extra mayonnaise on my family’s sandwiches.

Increasingly, the signs of my transition had become somewhat undeniable.

Like any independent young woman, I was convinced early on, that my life’s journey would be very different than the one my mother had taken. And for some time, it was. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found my life’s journey coming full circle to a place that would have been very familiar to my mother. Certain personality traits and interests and values that were so uniquely hers, I am now finding myself wholeheartedly embracing as my own. It would have been such a joy to share with her these new things we would have had in common.

But I can’t.

Because on this day, two years ago, my mother died.

I would have dearly loved to have had more time with her. However, at the time she died, I was thankful for and content with the 38 years that we did have together.

But, now that I’ve become my mother, it is quite apparent that 38 years together wasn’t nearly enough time at all. Now that I like celebrity biographies, just like she did, I’m not so content anymore. I want her to recommend some biographies for me. I want to talk to her about the Dean Martin biography I just read. Now that I’ve become my mother, the last 2 years suddenly seems like such a very, very, long time for her to be gone. 2 years seems like a long time not to talk to your mother.

It’s too bad that it took me 40 years to become my mother. It’s too bad she’s no longer here to enjoy our new found similarities. It’s too bad, because I have a feeling she would have liked me a lot.

In Loving Memory of MAMA.

One of the few times she didn't get away with standing behind me in a picture. Taken, my senior year in high school, May 1987, at the Mother's Tea.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Now, finally, everybody has one.

It is entirely possible that I am the last person in the developed world to not own a cell phone. I’m sure this will come as a bit of a shock, but I’ve never really wanted one, either. I’ve never had the desire to be reachable at all times. And I’ve certainly been reluctant to squeeze the money out of the budget to pay for one.

The teenager, following in her strange mother’s footsteps, does not own a cell phone either. Despite being the last teenager she knows without a cell phone, she has never asked for one. In fact, the teenager has never been comfortable talking on the phone at all. She even actively avoids talking her friends on the land line phone in the house. “I just don’t like talking on the phone!” she emphatically states.

But the teenager is now in 9th grade. She has many activities that take her far away from home. Perhaps someday there will be an emergency. Perhaps every single person around her will have had their cell phones die because they talked on them too much that day. Perhaps then, a cell phone of her own would come in handy.

Recently, a nice relative asked if we wanted her old TracFone. “You can just prepay for the minutes you think you will use!” she told us. This seemed to be the perfect way to enter the cell phone world, particularly since we intended to use the phone so very little.

I got a little bit excited when I saw our new cell phone for the first time. I unwrapped it from the bubble wrap the nice relative had wrapped it in. I flipped the top of the phone open and in one instant crossed into the addicting world of the cell phone. And while I had absolutely no desire to call anyone and absolutely no desire to have anyone call me, I did feel just a little bit more important knowing that these calls could happen if I wanted them to.

I motioned for the teenager to come take a look at the new cell phone. I wanted her to feel just a little more important too. I wanted her to feel like, finally, she would fit in with all of her peers. When the soccer team phone list came out, she would no longer be the only girl on the list without her own cell number. Perhaps, she’d even lose her fear of talking on the phone.

The teenager walked up to the table where the cell phone was sitting on top of the bubble wrap it came wrapped in. The nice relative and I looked on, in great anticipation of the teenager’s reaction to seeing her cell phone for the first time.

“Teenager! Look what this nice relative gave you! Can you believe it?” I excitedly said to the teenager as I pointed toward the phone.

The teenager’s face lit up. A big grin spread across her face. Her hand reached down toward the phone.

“Wow! Cool!” she yelled out, as her hand bypassed the phone and quickly grabbed the bubble wrap. “That is the coolest bubble wrap! I love bubble wrap! Can I pop it?”

Check This Out!

The Slightly Exaggerated CEO has been obsessed with Dean Martin, as of late. Numerous Dean Martin biographies have been read. His music has been playing constantly. And his movies have all been put to the top of the Netflix queue. One of the favorite movies has been, The Young Lions. Not being a “WWII movie kind of gal”, I hadn’t anticipated enjoying this war movie, which stars Dean Martin, Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando. Released in 1958, Young Lions is most definitely full of all the good and the bad that comes with a movie of that age. (I am always surprised by how abruptly movies from that time period frequently seem to end.) Nevertheless, I did enjoy The Young Lions quite a bit and urge you to move it to the top of your Netflix queue.

And while you’re waiting for you movie to come in, check out my favorite Dean Martin song, Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, from the original 1960 Ocean’s Eleven movie.