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Archive for the ‘baja bug’ Category

At the end of last year, blogger extraordinaire, Ginger Calem, blogged about memories of her first car. There were many responses to that post, one of which was mine. (See http://www.gingercalem.wordpress.com). I’ve been thinking about that post ever since and those thoughts were the brain child of this month’s blog topic.

When I got my first car, I had my driver’s license and had been driving independently for over a year. I learned to drive on my parents’ Plymouth Volare. I know, you’re all insanely jealous, but alas, we did live in the lap of luxury so we could afford those extra little creature comforts. (Yeah right.) But, that’s not the real issue I’m discussing here. My first car was a rebuilt 1969 Volkswagen beetle. It was being used by our neighbors as a chicken feed storage bin and was infested with cobwebs and black widow spiders when we towed the thing home with 4 flat tires and a broken windshield.

This whole dream car thing started when my family and I took a little camping trip along the Northern California coast the summer before my senior year of high school. There were a lot of people having a lot of fun on the sand dunes, including a boy – a really cute boy – who had an awesome baja bug! It was love at first sight. Not so much for the boy, although he was dreamy, as for that really cute, totally cool car. My parents were over-the-top pleased that my heart’s desire for a “first car” was a Volkswagen. They’d lucked out. My brother wanted a brand new turbo-charged Mustang (which he got by the way) and I only wanted a cheap, used, inexpensive-to-insure, beetle!

That started the search for my dream car and my dad’s new project – building a baja bug! As any awesome dad would do, he made my dream come true. He transformed that feed shed into my very first cute little car. About a week before school started, it was ready. Bright and shiny and purring like a kitten. One problem – I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. Dad to the rescue again. Below is an almost verbatim re-telling of my one and only lesson for learning to drive a stick shift:

Sunday afternoon. Not a cloud in the sky. Dad drives us out to outer Mongolia where we’re sure not to encounter another living person, pulls over to the side of the road and gets out. I adjust my new driver’s seat, buckle my new seat belt, adjust my new killer radio and sparkly new mirrors (in that order) and place hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. I look to my dad for instructions. He cracks open a beer and says, “Well drive. And don’t spill my beer.”

Now, please understand, I am NOT condoning this method of instruction. Nor is this particularly good parenting. However, I understand now my dad’s redneck way of getting me to learn to drive with that extra pedal on the floor. The one thing my dad loves more than almost anything is beer. To waste even one small drop by allowing it to spill is nothing short of sacrilige. I didn’t want that hanging over my head. And, heaven knows I didn’t want my new car smelling like beer. I was only 17 years old for crying out loud! Let me tell you, I learned quickly how to ease off that clutch. We jerked down that road exactly one time in each gear before I got the hang of it. Dad held the beer can out the window just in case, but it only took that one lesson and I was driving like a pro! According to my dad, it was a one-beer lesson. I think he was a little disappointed that I caught on so quickly.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I haven’t had an automatic transmission vehicle since 1981. I not only learned how to drive a manual transmission, I fell in love with the manual transmission.

So there you have it. My drinking and driver’s education trip down memory lane!

Now tell me, what’s your “learning to drive” story?

Word of the Day:  Demurrage

Fun fact about me:  I’ve never had a broken bone! (knocking on wood now)

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