My step-daughter Michelle will be turning sixteen in July, and starting this past January I have begun to teach her how to drive. I took her out early on a Sunday morning about 45 minutes before sunrise and let her drive around the empty parking lot at the high school. It was the first time she was behind the wheel of a car, and it went fairly well by my estimation. It did bring back memories for me though.
I was taught how to drive by both my mother and my father. My experience with my mother was in a large parking lot at night somewhere in El Segundo - like the E1 building formerly owned by Hughes Aircraft. There are curbs, stop lights, and parking of course, but there is also a fairly large road that runs around the whole facility. It was blessedly empty as I went for my first drive in our white 1984 Toyota Corolla. Later, my father took me driving in his truck - on the street. I remember the first time I hit 55 mph driving west on Jefferson Blvd. headed through what was then the marshy area between Centinela and Lincoln. It was pretty cool, and very exciting. The 405 freeway was another feeling entirely. My poor father must have had nerves of steel to do that, teaching me to drive in Los Angeles traffic. I will say this though, out of everyone I know, with the exclusion of my father, I can parallel park like nobody's business. He taught me how to do that in a full size pick up truck on LA streets parking between two sub-compacts. Yeah, seriously! I learned how, and scored 97 out of 100 on my drivers test; passed first time out of the gate. Thank you, Daddy!
I've been driving now for more than 22 years and it still seems a fresh memory in my mind. The wind coming through the window as I hit 55 on Jefferson, my dad's face, cheerfully smiling at me, and him telling me, "Good job, Pun'kin" - it's all so clear, like it was yesterday.