HI Friends, I am participating in a fun Blog fest this week and will be getting some critiques on my story. This is a hint of things to come in my next book 'Driving Me Crazy'. Enjoy and please feel free to also comment Now...the story.

SOMETIMES I wonder if my husband realizes that if something happened to me he would be stuck eating macaroni mixed with hamburger and tomatoes for the rest of his life.

Obviously, these thoughts have never parted his gray matter or I would not be sitting in the passenger seat with my son, who only yesterday was toddling around in diapers and sucking on a bottle while milk dripped from his chin.

Driving a car might be a glorious milestone for Jason but it felt like a millstone was grinding inside my stomach and turning it to jell-o. I wondered if it would damage his self-esteem if I unlatched my seat belt, prostrated myself on the floor mat and screamed out a prayer of deliverance.

I sat back into the seat and took a deep breath. “Watch out for that tree.”

Jason whipped his head both directions. “What tree? You planted a tree in the driveway today?”

“I’m talking about the tree at the end of the driveway.”

Jason looked at me and rolled his eyes. “Mom, I haven’t even put the key into the ignition yet.”

“I know. I was just reminding you that before you put the key in the ignition you need to take stock of your surroundings.”

“Mom, we’ve lived in this house for six years now. I know there is a tree at the end of the driveway.”

“Jason, I know that you think you know there is a tree at the end of the driveway but you only know from the perspective of a pedestrian or a bicyclist, not as the driver of nice, unscratched, dent free car.”

He guffawed and put the keys in the ignition.

“Wait. Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Mo-om. What is your problem?”

“I am trying to prevent problems. What are you supposed to do before you start the engine?”

Jason sighed and checked his mirrors. “You’re making me nervous. You said you would take me out to practice if Dad took me first and he thinks I’m ready. Give me a chance to get out of the driveway would ya.”

I bit my tongue but it’s a good thing he couldn’t read my mind. Rick thinks he’s a good driver too but that’s because he has never had to sit beside himself in the driver’s seat. The realization that he will have passed on his eccentric habits was what was making my insides quiver.

Jason was able to clear the tree with only a slight gasp from me that I tried to hide with a fit of coughing. He started to speed up.

“Slow down.’

“I was only trying to get you to the emergency room before you died.” He
said as he let up on the gas.

“Son, the car is a lethal weapon not a merry-go-round on the playground.”

“Gee Mom, thanks. They never covered that in Drivers Ed. What does Dad call what he does in the church parking lot when it snows? Not a merry-go-round—oh yeah, a donut.”

My husband the safety mogul.
“Jason, the signal lights work in this car you know.”

“Mom, you don’t signal 3000 miles before you get to the intersection. You actually wait until you get close enough to the corner to see that it’s there. It confuses the people behind you. No wonder grandpa didn’t teach you to drive.”

“It also confuses people when you don’t PICK A LANE.”
I caught my breath while he swerved hard to the right. “Let’s be clear. He didn’t not let me drive. I chose not to let him teach me.”

“Boy, I can’t imagine how that must have felt.”

“Jason, you’re going too fast into the turn and I told you, you don’t wait until you’re at the corner to signal. Watch out. Stay in your lane.”

“Mom is it ok if I breathe or do you want to do that for me too?” Jason’s fists clenched the wheel.

“I’m sorry son, your doing a great job. I’m just a little nervous. This is my first time you know. STOP, someone’s on the crosswalk.”

Jason slammed on the brakes. “They’re supposed to wait for the light. I have the right of way. If I hit them it’s their fault.”

“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. The point would be not to have an accident, not to hurt people and not to make your mother soil the seat of the car. Think how bad you’d feel if you hurt someone. When I, who happen to be in the death seat, am stretched out flat in the morgue, its cold comfort to know we had the right of way”

“It wouldn’t be my fault.”

“Jason! If someone crashed into you and left you paralyzed for life do you think it would make it any easier knowing it wasn't your fault?’

“I’m just sayin’…”

“OK, that’s it. Pull over Buster. I’m driving. End of discussion.”


“NOPE, you’re done. I just got you out of diapers and if you think I’m going to let you get yourself paralyzed and chain me to the diaper pail you can think again.”

And that is how I saved my husband from culinary purgatory.


RosieC said...

Hi Jane. This is just a note for now to tell you that I'll be reading your story in the car on my way out of town. I'll post my comments later tonight. Thanks for participating! :)

Beverly @ The Buzz said...

Actually, pedestrians do have the right of way. Especially if they're in a crosswalk. And, I'm sorry, I can't help myself, it's my OCD--are you sure he shouldn't be taking "stock" of his surroundings?

Myne Whitman said...

LOL..I see that Bev caught that typo too. What a hypertensive mother, but I like her distinctive voice. She keeps the story moving with her neuroses.

Connie said...

Any mother who has had the privilege (?) of riding with her permit holding teen can surely relate to the whole 'soil the seat' comment. As usual Jane, a story I can relate to. Are you sure you haven't taken a peek into my life?

Fourth Grade Teacher said...

I haven't had to experience this, but I can still totally empathize with the mother and held onto my own seat while I was reading your account. The dialogue was great, and both the mother's and son's voices came through for me. The part about grandpa threw me a little when I first read it.

Thank you for participating in the blogfest! I am enjoying reading everyone else's entries!

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

This so reminds me of when I learned how to drive. I loved it.

My only complaint: when the son almost hits a pedestrian, the mom sounds a little selfish. Not only would killing a pedestrian not hurt her at all, but she's not the only one who would go to the morgue.

However, I loved the message about doing whatever it takes not to hurt people, regardless who's fault it is. Too many drivers don't think that way. I get furious when people say, "If he dies, it's his fault." Yeah, like that's a good reason to kill someone.

RosieC said...

Hi Jane! I finally made it back. Thanks for joining the blogfest.

1. Your opening is amazingly strong. You sucked me in and then I couldn't find me way out again until the story was over. And I couldn't stop giggling. It's true to life, and humorous, and everything it should be. Well done.

2. Your dialogue is great. You've captured both voices perfectly well. The dynamic between the two characters is excellently displayed. Great job.

1. To echo Beverly, pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way, no matter where they are, because they don't have two tons of steel wrapped around them like an indestructible cocoon. In fact, not only do Peds have the right of way anywhere, but if there's a pedestrian ANYWHERE in a crosswalk, a car is not supposed to cross the lines/enter the crosswalk at all. A little known fact that many people in my town violate all the time as I think they're going to run me over. (Yes, I make it personal sometimes... which I shouldn't, I know).

2. There were a few instances of grammar issues (its instead of it's, for example). This sentence in particular struck me as needing some work: "The realization that he will have passed on his eccentric habits was what was making my insides quiver." I got tongue-tied trying to work it out. I think it's the "was what was" that really got me.

All in all, fantastic piece. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed it.

Charity Bradford said...

Hi Jane! Thank you for participating in the blogfest.

I loved how you ended by tying back in to your opening. Everyone else has mentioned it, but you really nailed the anxious mom and the teen voice. Both were spot on in my mind and distinctive from one another. I was smiling all the way through.

One of my favorite sentences: "I wondered if it would damage his self-esteem if I unlatched my seat belt, prostrated myself on the floor mat and screamed out a prayer of deliverance." I loved it even more when the son mentioned he hadn't even put the key in yet.

Um, not many. There were a few small grammar things as have been mentioned, but I'm the passive voice poster child. I do it all the time, so its what I notice in other people's writing. You have several instances of "was" that you could change to stronger more active verbs with just a bit of rearranging.

For example:
The realization that he will have passed on his eccentric habits was what was making my insides quiver.

could become: My insides quivered at the realization that he might have passed on his eccentric habits.

Hope that helps. I really enjoyed the tone and everything in this piece.

Jane Isfeld Still said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. They helped alot. This is going to be in my next book. It was fun to explore a new group of writers. I enjoyed reading all your work. Let me know if you do this again. :)

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Beautiful Mommy Writer Award.

Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.


tammy said...

I both love this and am terrified of my almost 15 yr old getting his permit!

Stacey said...

This made me LOL! I remember doing this with my daughters. Teenagers ARE horrible drivers!


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