Free, we drove to the Department of Motor Vehicles where I passed my
learning permit test. At 6:30 the next morning, before anyone at home was up, I
went next door to his waiting car for my driving lesson, got in his waiting car
and as usual and sat next to the passenger door. He smiled and called me his
I thought at least I am not his duck or bean pole but then thought he was
commenting on my Oriental nose and his saying I was his. He smiled and patted
the seat area next to him. I scooted over, the biggest move in my life.
He drove to a small hill and parked with the car facing downhill, got in on the passenger side and eased me behind the steering wheel. Sitting close he explained starting, the parking brake, brake, clutch and gas foot pedals and shift lever, all confusing.
After explaining the mechanics my first lesson was starting the engine and turning it off with parking brake on, the shift in neutral and the clutch in. After I mastered that he put his right hand on mine and guided me through the gears, our first physical contact.
Then with the car running in neutral he had me push on the brake pedal, release the parking brake, push in the clutch pedal, shift to first gear, ease off the clutch until the car wanted to lurch forward, ease off the brake and let the car start to move then push the clutch back in and push the brake pedal to stop. I kept killing the engine and wanted to just fail my test but he kept me trying.
With a few more stalls I got the hang of it as his hand guided mine. On the
level stretch at the base of the hill I repeated the procedure but also eased
on the gas pedal as I let off the clutch and brake pedals until I was able to
get the car moving steady in first gear. He then made me shift to second and
third as I raced to fifteen and then twenty five miles per hour.
My palms were sweaty and the steering wheel and shift lever wet when finally
free to change gears without his guidance. Confident I was capable he had me
drive back to face the hill upward until I mastered starting without stalling.
He kept me driving until I could do stop signs and stop lights but after 3
hours I panicked. I had been gone longer than intended and knew my absence
would be questioned at home. They would want to know why I was not there to make
He dropped me off at the grocery market on Story Road where I bought a
bottle of maple syrup. Everyone was up and stared at me when I walked in. Mom
demanded to know where I was. My weak explanation I was late because I met a
friend and talked too long was forgiven as they ate pancakes.
As a condemned sinner in mortal sin lying was easy. I learned to present what was false as obviously true; then believing it to avoid a tongue slip up. I also knew a lie is also best swallowed with general ambiguity plus a dash of specific diversion spice. I said the friend I met had a new hair style, a sprinkle of truth I already knew which they could verify if interested but of course they wouldn’t. Lying by keeping dashes of truth diversions cuts off listener inquiry and if by chance a detail is verified your lies are deemed proof of your credibility.
The following week was my Easter break from school. Each day in the afternoon I walked to the market and we met for more lessons. He was a good teacher and I a good student. Monday morning after spring break he announced to Mom as we approached his car.