In case you were wondering – yes, I did the happy dance Friday evening.
My car is parked in its customary spot in the garage.
Knowing it’s there waiting for me to take it out for a spin completes me. I’m back to being able to go anywhere I want, when I want – a welcome change after driving a rental that made me feel as if I needed to keep it as pristine as my wife keeps the house just before her parents come over for a visit.
It’s hard to believe my car spent much of last week at the body shop. Our college son came home for the holidays, wrecked it and then fled back to school leaving me to deal with the aftermath.
But that’s in the past.
My wheels are mine again.
There’s just one catch.
My car has a new odor.
I’d like to report that the body shop guys restored that “new car” smell while they were installing a new front bumper and fixing the crinkle in the hood.
But I can’t.
It’s more like that “new paint” smell.
I doubt the fumes are strong enough to get me arrested for driving under the influence, but for the time being, I’m driving around with the windows cracked.
It may be cold outside, but I just got my car back. The last thing I need is my driver’s license taken away.
My son once asked me if I thought he’d “make a good driver someday.”
He asked with all the earnestness of a young boy driving what must have seemed to him to be a real car.
We were at Pennsylvania’s Hershey Park, and he was steering one of those jalopies that kids guide around a self-contained track.
You know the cars I’m talking about. They are fashioned after what people sputtered around in back in the day (think Henry Ford Model T’s). As I’m not much for thrill rides, bouncing around in those things is perfect for weak-hearted dads like me. Perfect, that is, until your oldest kid starts asking about driving for real.
That’s why I think theme parks should be required to post a sign or otherwise warn parents before they get into one of those things with their young children.
It should read:
WARNING! THESE JALOPIES MAY GIVE PARENTS HEARTBURN!
Such a sign is warranted in my view, mainly because those cars gave me my first taste of what it’s like to sit in the passenger seat with one of my kids behind the wheel. Hershey Park has plenty of roller coasters and other rides more than capable of turning my stomach, but I’d rather brave them than think about my oldest kid being old enough to legally hit the open road.
After he asked his question, I swallowed, took a deep breath and told him I thought he’d be good at anything he put his mind to. I even gave him an affectionate “atta boy” pat on the head while silently counting the years I had left before he put a license similar to mine in his wallet and my insurance premiums went up.
He must have been around 10-years-old when he asked whether he’d be a good driver. He’s had several birthdays since then and, although he hasn’t asked me that question lately, we’re about to find out the answer very soon.
My son is now 15.
And, since the state of West Virginia deems him ready to begin learning to drive, I figured he must be ready to be introduced to the joys of the state Division of Motor Vehicles. I took him to Berkeley County’s new DMV office on his birthday this week to fetch a Driver’s Licensing handbook.
“Welcome to the DMV,” I told him when he balked after beholding the long line for the first time.
Actually, I’m lying. While my son really did balk, the line wasn’t that long. We even got the handbook in fairly short order and were on our way home in relative good humor.
That handbook is now sitting on our coffee table. It’s a constant reminder of what I’m in for, and not just with our son. Our daughter will all too quickly follow on his heels.
And, while my son is not yet paying much attention to it, I know for a fact he’s got the car keys on his mind. And the first time he uses them with me in the passenger seat again, those roller coasters at Hershey Park are going to start looking pretty good.