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She has my eyes, my nose, and my overbite. Hopefully my driving prowess is a recessive gene

My first car was a lemon-colored ’77 Honda Civic.

(I’ll pause while you Youtube that to see just how manly a vehicle that was).

My friends dubbed it the Yellow Peril, but a better aphorism might have been, “Babe Repeller.” I’m sure there’s a team of social scientist still trying to figure out how I managed to get a girl to go to homecoming with me in that.

A week later the Peril lived up to its name as I slid off the road one rainy night and put it on its side. I remember popping a cassette into the stereo and hitting rewind right before the accident (for you young’ins, cassettes were these arcane devices on which we recorded epic mix-tapes—a requirement for any road trip). Just as the car came to rest, Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believin’ began playing—a great soundtrack as I opened the passenger door like a submarine hatch to extricate myself from the vehicle.

Over the course of my high-school career (and two cars later) I managed to amass ten (ten!) tickets for everything from speeding to expired tabs, from rolling through a stop sign, to one for my muffler being too low. I even managed to get two tickets in a single week from the only female traffic cop in Kitsap County, named Officer Balls. I write fiction but some things you just can’t make up.

My driving record was so bad that they sent me to one of those weekend classes at the DMV where you sit with vaguely sober, drunk-tank residents and watch footage of auto accidents—the kind that would make the creators of Saw V cringe.

At the time, I blamed it all on bad car karma, though it was more likely that I was just an idiotic teenage driver with a leadfoot (and a lead brain).

So it is with much joy (and trepidation) that I gave my daughter, Haley, a set of wheels this weekend as an early graduation present. She's finishing high school a year early, getting the car ahead of schedule seemed like an okay thing to do.

Look out, citizens!


Hi Jamie,

We'll be going to Seattle next weekend because of your book, is there a map of related places we can visit?



Hmmm...here's an older blog post about a Seattle/Chinatown walkabout. But a truly great place to start would be the Wing Luke Asian Museum, which now offers a Bitter and Sweet Tour. Don't forget your umbrella.

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Reader Comments (7)

Haha. I was too busy in high school to take Driver's Ed, and my parents were too busy to teach me. (Must run in the family.) So I was the last person in my entire circle of friends to learn how to drive (which means I got chauffeured a lot, hehe). Not that it mattered, since I didn't have a car anyway.

Well, occasionally my mom let me drive her company's work van. Which DIED at every stop light. Yeah, that was fun.

Congrats to your daughter, and good luck to you all, hehe!
May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristan
Congratulations to Haley! May the force be with you and Leesha. I'm not looking forward to the whole driving teenager stage.
May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen
So maybe Henry's breakneck wagon ride through Seattle had a basis in fact?
May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric
LOL. The first thing that came to mind was my first 'accident' - as a passenger - in a car too fast and an unknown and lightly traveled MT country road. We're all so lucky to survive our teenage driving experiences. Congratulations to your daughter who deserves a ride she can depend on. I'm assuming there's a college in her future.
May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave Dubé
Definitely college, somewhere in Oregon. We're visiting campuses soon.

Hey, I just noticed there's a pug reflected in the car door...
May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
Hmm, having met you, one would never guess you were a terror on the streets at one time. While I was dating my wife, I got two speeding tickets (within a week no less) leaving the area where she lives. My guess is the adrenaline was still racing from when we were together.

I'm facing the same situation you are now however, as my oldest son gets ready to graduate. He has his license (and seems to be a halfway decent driver so far), but now I've got to get him a car. Should I inflict the pain of a white Pinto or lime green Gremlin on him? Or should I behave myself and get him something decent. Decisions, decisions :)
May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric Stallsworth
I never learned to drive, but i think i have to learn it since i amy father brought a new car. I am a college student.
May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiza Bizier

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