Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Cultural references for the new adult driver

Here's what I've come up with, off the top of my head. Please add more in the comments!

-"Clueless." The ultimate driving-fail movie, so we will forgive it being about teenagers. There's Cher's painful road test, a scene that teaches an all-important lesson: don't daydream about Paul Rudd while driving. Then there's Dionne's accidental turn onto the freeway, which so perfectly captures the terror of merging onto a highway. That scene is Route 1, although the terror lessens each time. And of course, there's Tai's flawlessly-scripted-and-delivered insult to Cher: "You're a virgin who can't drive." It's that line, that moment, that makes this actually kind of an adult-driver movie. Cher's friends have all of a sudden lost their virginities and gotten licenses, leaving her behind.

-An episode of "The Mindy Project," described here, in which a macho gynecologist finally passes the written part of the test, only to outdo Cher in road-test ineptitude. Impressive visuals. The way he ultimately passes is kind of creepy, but, uh, it's a comedy! Or something.

-Arg, the dimwitted sidekick on British reality show "The Only Way Is Essex," fails his driving theory test, and his normally sweet girlfriend can't restrain her laughter. There's also Harry's lesson, but because Harry's like twelve and clearly new to driving, it lacks the pathos of Arg's scene.

-Katha Pollitt's essay, "Learning to Drive." This essay is, alas, the reason I'm wary of pitching my own tale of this, given that it's been done so well already. She covers the feminist angle, the New Yorker's ambivalence about driving one, the having first failed two road tests one, and, and this is key, the specific pang of being asked if you have the license yet, once you've told someone you're trying for one. I'd tell it all quite differently, but my biography might just be too close to Pollitt's, down to some very particular details, for the world to need another such piece of writing. The only aspect of my process that I think gives it specificity, that adds precision to my particular humiliation, is that I learned how to maneuver on a loop called Einstein Drive. As in, did you forget to signal again, Einstein? (Never mind that Einstein himself apparently never learned to drive.)


caryatis said...

Now you can start describing things as "15 minutes away."

I once asked someone "So what part of town are we in?" and he explained it in terms of being "north" of one big road and "15 minutes away" from another. It meant absolutely nothing to me.

Jennifer said...

You absolutely must see the somewhat recent British film Happy-Go-Lucky, which has some of the most memorable adult-learning-to-drive scenes that I have ever beheld. It's terribly funny and I think you might really enjoy it.