There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to begin a sentence with a really bad cliche. This is one of those times. You see, words are not coming easy to me these days. And when I do speak, I seem to be talking in gibberish, running my words together in a strange new dialect:
"YOU’REGOINGTOOFAST!" I’ll say, seemingly at random. Or I’ll blurt out "STAYINYOUROWNLANE!!"
Or even, "WATCHTHECURB!"
And I’m talking louder than I used to, as if I were trying to alert someone far away. An ambulance, perhaps.
It’s just a coincidence, of course, that this only happens when I’m in a car being driven by my 16-year-old. While technically still a child, she has earned the right to drive our 2,500-pound minivan because she passed the District of Columbia’s grueling written test, a test specifically designed to weed out incompetent drivers through the use of such demanding questions as:
- What is your name?
- What is your address?
- Do you have $14?
By law, she cannot operate the vehicle alone. For the safety of others on the road, she is required to have a frightened and babbling adult in the car with her. And since I say things like "LOOK OUT!" with less emotion than my wife, the family has chosen me for this task. (Our thoughtful 14-year-old generously offered to take my place, so that we parents could "just relax at home," but we declined.) And so we drive, every day, through the nation’s capital, negotiating its mean streets, avoiding potholes and drunken diplomats (both of which are immune from prosecution), and, above all, trying to minimize the number of pedestrians we knock over in the crosswalks.