Modern Driving

Now that we can’t afford gas no more, people are starting to notice their kids got legs. My daughter Gladiola has actually learned to walk as far as the bus stop.
She ain’t too happy about it. She is finally old enough to get her driver’s license and now this.

But as far as I’m concerned, the less she drives, the fewer novenas I have to make for her to stay alive.

I seen on the news that scientists discovered that the part of your brain that regulates judgment don’t develop until you’re 25.

This means teenagers have no sense.

And they paid money to find that out. Next they’ll discover the sky is blue.
I tell Gladiola she can always have my car on the second Tuesday of every month ending in “R” if the moon is full. She don’t think that’s funny.

 So I explain that she’s my baby and I worry. If she’s driving and I call her on the cell phone, she might crash. If I don’t call, she might be dead in a ditch for all I know. She promises that if she’s dead in a ditch, she’ll call first.

Finally we decide she can drive it if she pays for the gas – which ain’t the same as never, but close enough. I got something to thank them Arabs for.

Back in the day, when I learned to drive my daddy’s Nash, I used to follow the bus route, being as I didn’t know any other way to get anywhere. He’d send me to the K&B 10 blocks away to get him a cold six-pack and I would come back in an hour. Finally he bought me a city map.

After I told my gentleman friend Lust that story, he went one better and got Gladiola one of them GPS systems for her birthday. A map would’ve been cheaper but he says kids only understand technology these days.

 So whenever she gets in the car, she sticks the GPS to the windshield and punches in the address of where she wants to go. Then a voice that sounds like James Earl Jones directs her how to get there, without even screaming like I do. “Turn right in one quarter mile onto Juniper Street,” it intones, and when she zoops right past it, it says, “Make the next available U-turn,” in a voice that is a more forceful, but not exasperated.

Last week, my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, drove in from Chalmette and decided to stay with us a few days before she sprang for gas for the trip home. She runs a nice little business making decorative muumuus for people’s garbage bins. Her customers are the kind of people that put out cheery garden flags and wreaths on their doors for different seasons. But business is slow right now.

When Gladiola sees Ms. Larda, she thinks of one thing – an available car. Ms. Larda is easy, and she lets Gladiola take her car for a whole afternoon to run errands. She don’t know these errands are named Jayson Mason, the brass ring of boys in the group that Gladiola hangs around with. She wants to ask him to the homecoming dance.

Now Gladiola don’t have a lot of experience with boys, being as she has always gone to an all-girl school, where after a while even the Coca-Cola delivery man starts looking good. She types Jayson’s address into her GPS. She drives to his house. But she can’t think of what to do next. She got no reason whatsoever to knock at his door. So she goes around the block 22 times and goes home, depressed. When she parks and slams the car door, her GPS comes unstuck from the windshield and lands on the floor. And she don’t even notice.

Next day, Ms. Larda heads for home. She adjusts the driver’s seat and accidentally kicks the GPS, which is still programmed for Jayson Mason’s house. She pulls out the parking spot and this voice orders her to turn right. Now, Ms. Larda never heard of a GPS, but she went to Catholic school all her life, so she does what she is told. After a while, it tells her to turn left, then turn right again, and then announces she has arrived at her destination. She is at Jayson Mason’s house.

Jayson’s mother Mindy, who watched this same red Beetle coast by her house 22 times the day before, has had enough of these lovesick teenage girls with crushes on Jayson. So she storms out to confront her. But she stops short when she sees the driver is a fat old party with a beehive hairdo.

Meanwhile, Ms. Larda, who assumes she was sent here for a reason (she saw that movie where George Burns plays God and speaks out of the radio), don’t know what to say.

But then – and this is why civilization works – good manners kick in on both sides. So Mindy, instead of “What do you think you’re doing?” says “Hi. Are you looking for something?” and Ms. Larda, instead of “God sent me,” says, “Honey, I was admiring the wreath on your door and I thought you might want to dress up your garbage bin.” She throws open her trunk, where she has her selection of garbage bin muumuus, and says she’s having a trunk sale.

 The word “sale” naturally blocks everything else out of Mindy’s mind, and she picks out three of them, early fall, late fall and springtime, and special-orders a Halloween ensemble – muumuu plus cheery jack-o-lantern lid – and Ms. Larda says her granddaughter will be happy to deliver it.

And Gladiola, once she has a reason to actually knock on that door, goes into full flirt mode when Jayson answers. Pretty soon she has a date for her homecoming dance.

I never did as good as that with a city map.

Categories: Modine’s New Orleans

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