General Fiction posted April 5, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Teaching your child to drive

Like Father, Like Daughter

by Rachelle Allen

Back Seat Driver Contest Winner 

My father was a quiet man. He could speak volumes with just his eye color and the set of his jaw.

But his eye color -steely gray as opposed to the usual cornflower blue- wasn't what scared me the most when he took me out for my first driving lesson. It was the pallor of his skin -fish belly white- that drew my concern.

This wasn't his first parental rodeo as a driving instructor. I am the youngest of four. The problem was that my siblings were, respectively, twelve, fourteen, and seventeen years older than I. So by this point in time, my father, too, was twelve, fourteen, and seventeen years older than the last times he'd pulled this duty.

But he was a fair man to the four of us and knew what was incumbent upon him now.

So, off we went in his immaculately maintained Thunderbird. We lived in the country, so traffic wasn't an issue. Sinuous roads and errant livestock were another matter. And hills. So many steep, steep hills!

I did well on the straightaways and even on the multitudinous gravel roads. Every now and then, though, I would notice, out of the corner of my eye, that my father was trying to engage an imaginary brake pedal, and sometimes he'd put both hands on the dashboard and gape his eyes to their widest setting. But he never actually said anything more than, "Turn left here," or "Put on your blinker."

We'd been driving a good hour by the time we crested a particularly steep hill, at the bottom of which was a stop sign.

"Stop for the stop sign," my father said quietly.

I took that as a friendly reminder; I had plenty of time.

"Stop for the stop sign!" he repeated at once, followed immediately by, "STOP FOR THE *BLEEP* *BLEEP* STOP SIGN!!!"

I screeched us to a halt only a few feet beyond it and really didn't understand what the big damn deal was. "It's not as if there was any TRAFFIC coming," I said.

The next day, I was enrolled in the Raymond Hill School of Driving.

Fast forward twenty-five years, and this time I am the parental driving instructor. As I'm going by my daughter's room after an especially harrowing night with her behind the wheel, I hear her on the phone with her BFF.

"I can always tell how well or how poorly I've done on any given night of driving," she says, "by how long my mother has to sit and play the piano when we get home." She adds, "And if I ever hear Tchaikovsky, I know I've done particularly poorly because he requires a full-arm pounding technique."

I check the Yellow Pages for the Raymond Hill School of Driving.

Writing Prompt
The topic for this writing contest is: Back Seat Driver

Back Seat Driver
Contest Winner


Special thanks to Will Porada for the picture from Unsplash!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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© Copyright 2020. Rachelle Allen All rights reserved.
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