Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Becoming a real grown-up, Installment I: Driving

So my learner's permit's going to expire this summer, which means... time for driving lessons! Because I'm an idiot, I'm taking those lessons in Chinatown, known among drivers and pedestrians alike as perhaps the most difficult area to get around in the city. OK, it's because the lessons are cheap and come recommended by many Internet commenters, who may or may not work for the driving company, but who I'm choosing to think of as impartial. Given that my last attempt at driving lessons entailed a private instructor making many early-morning appointments and showing up for exactly none, I'm thinking this will be much, much better.

The real motivation may not, now that I think of it, be the imminently-expiring permit. It's more likely to be these commercials for car insurance, or at any rate something to do with cars, that feature pimply 16-year-olds getting their license photos taken at the DMV. It hit me then that I really had waited that long to get this out of the way.


JMR said...

Good grief, you don't know how to drive? What is Installment II - Seeing an R-Rated Movie? Getting an ear piercing without a parental note?

I guess buying arugula does not require a driver's license in NY.

Phoebe said...

Buying arugula requires $1. Not complicated.

My family didn't/doesn't have a car. I went to college in a city. Why would I know how to drive?

Dana said...

I always wonder what native New Yorkers do when they travel to other states. How would you get by on a visit to California? Well, I guess if you stay in the SF area, you still don't have to drive much, but anywhere else (we frequently abscond for weekends to bourgie destinations such as wine country or "seek nature" by _driving_ to hiking trails outside of our immediate radius), and I'd have to drive your sweet ass around. Not that I'd mind, mind you.

Commuting sucks. Driving in cities can be stressful, although if you get used to it and don't die you feel much more confident as a person. But even as I now don't have a car and walk/public transport it everywhere and like having less of an environmental impact, I have to say, I love road trips and that whole aimless driving thing. Once you learn (and I failed my first time and was a terrible, dent-getting driver for a year or so), there's a lot of fun and freedom in store for you. Do I sound like a schill for the Big Three? You betcha. But seriously, it is a useful and occasionally fun skill.

Phoebe said...

"How would you get by on a visit to California?"

I do hope to be able to go on a road trip sometime, though. Which is a part, if a small one, of why I'm bothering with the lessons. The proximity of the driving school to good grocery stores may have played a larger part in convincing me...

Dana said...

That is crazy, unless you just stayed on the West Side. You bring back the memories though. Truth be told, if you know the bus system, LA is not bad to get around without a car. Orange County, however...

I sort of want to put a pair of glasses on you and call you Liz Lemon.

Petey said...

You may be learning to drive like an Asian, but today I learned about Haskalah.


The best thing about driving NYC is just how much fun it is when traffic moves.

Phoebe said...


I don't actually know which side it was--walked from UCLA through Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, all the way through various residential areas to the Scientology headquarters (not as interesting to see as promised in some article I'd read) and then up to Los Feliz Village, which was filled with so many B-list TV celebrities, it was amazing. This may all have been West, but it was a day of almost non-stop walking. The following day, we did end up taking the bus, to Venice Beach and whatever the posh part is next to it.

"I sort of want to put a pair of glasses on you and call you Liz Lemon."

You wouldn't be the first. Strangely, I was once told I look like Tina Fey at a party also attended by Isabella Rosselini (sp?), aka Jack Donaghy's ex-wife.


I know about Haskalah. Are you taking lessons in it? I'm confused.

Phoebe said...

And Petey, I'm assuming your initial comment was racist, but I'm not up on driving-related stereotypes, other than that women supposedly can't drive.

Petey said...

"I know about Haskalah. Are you taking lessons in it?"


My knowledge of the history of Judaism was almost non-existent a couple of years ago. I've been slowly filling some gaps.

"I'm assuming your initial comment was racist"


There is nothing wrong with a certain level of racism as long as your basic empathy centers are are fully functional. For example, I think all Australians are mentally retarded, but I don't think that makes me a hateful person.

JMR said...

My family didn't/doesn't have a car. I went to college in a city. Why would I know how to drive?

Getting the license has always just struck me as one of the most anticipated and important moments of teenage life. It probably is in most places not named New York. Even some of the people I grew up with who didn't have a car in the household scrounged up the nearest relative with a car for driving test purposes.

But perhaps we all have some odd gap like this, some missing grown-up installment. For instance, I didn't get my passport until I was 33 years old and I've still never used it. To everyone I was meeting in grad school and working life, it was the Craziest Thing that I didn't have one. Everybody they knew had a passport except me.

But when I told some lifers in my old hometown that I had gotten a passport, it was crazy to them. Nobody they knew had a passport; they assumed I was about to flee the country to avoid prosecution for horrible crimes.

Phoebe said...

"Getting the license has always just struck me as one of the most anticipated and important moments of teenage life. It probably is in most places not named New York."

And, I grew up in New York. Mystery solved.

Anonymous said...

Phoebe: When you get your permit, you can practice in my car on some very quiet streets to begin with. Of course, that means visiting Florida -- not bad in the winter. And the roads are new, wide and well-marked -- the opposite of Chinatown. I had a license at 19 or so, but until I moved to Florida, a place one cannot live without a car, I never drove much. Now, it's like second nature. Bye, JM