Skip navigation
text size: default | enlarged——servicing readers in 130 plus countries——110 free stories
Genre: Humour
Back to Previous Page Review This Story Share This Story

Driving Lessons
Excerpt from:
The Art of Table Dancing: Escapades of An Irreverent Woman

By: DC Stanfa

"What are you doing?" Lori blasted at me, as I plucked my parents' extra set of car keys from the end table.

"What does it look like I'm doing?"

I thought answering her question with a question of her intelligence made me appear so clever in front of Lynn and Julie, two neighbor girls who'd stopped by and talked me down off the garage roof. The suntanning was turning into a sun-burning, so they didn't need to persuade much. They were bored and looking for something to do.

Lynn and Julie had been in public school for eight years, and would be my classmates at Bowsher, the public high school. What they were recovering from this summer, I didn't know. All I knew was it was time for my own self-imprisonment break, adolescent style. That's when I discovered the keys.

"You better not be thinking about taking the car," Lori scolded.

"What are you going to do about it?" I shot back.

Lori was a year older, and had the bossy oldest child syndrome. Due to a family mutation however, I was a good five inches taller than her, my mom, and Sherry, who were all in the five-feet-tall range. When I reached her height in sixth grade I shoved her out the front door of our house after she pressed the hang-up button on the phone while I was talking to Sheila Hart. She was locked out, in her bra and underwear. She might have been thinking about the incident, since she didn't physically try to get the keys from me.

"C'mon Lynn, Julie, let's go for a little drive."

I practically strutted out of the door in defiance.

"Get back here! You've gotta watch Sherry. You're in big trouble!"

If Lynn hesitated at all, it was only momentarily as she sat by my side in the Stanfa family- no make that my dad's- new Chevy Malibu. Royal blue, thank you.

Lynn bit her bottom lip. "DC, do you know how to drive?"

"Sure, my dad lets me drive when we're on vacation,"

I didn't mention that I had only been allowed to steer once on a quarter-mile-stone driveway to a remote cabin.

Lynn was no innocent herself. She'd been caught "ripping off" a few times from Ron's carryout. She was also in the shadow of a more outgoing, confident sister, Lee, her fraternal twin and my fellow Fair worker. Lynn was the more mischievous of the twins.

Luckily, or unluckily, the car was parked in the street. I doubt I'd have been able to back it out of the driveway. It was an automatic transmission, that much I understood. Other than that, not being a boy or a car buff, my knowledge was limited to simple facts. The car was big and it was blue.

Julie, a quiet type by nature, remained silent throughout the front-seat adjustment and the starting of the ignition. But once we were in Drive mode she asked, "Where are we going?"

Since I had not yet exceeded 5 mph, we had plenty of time to decide.

"Let's go to McDonalds," Lynn suggested.

"Cool," I answered, trying to send calming signals to my heart, which was beating faster than Muhammad Ali's fists.

I was having difficulty with the foot pedals, first confusing the accelerator with the brake and vice-versa. Finally, I kept one foot on each for a jerk-and-stop rhythm. Apparently the steering was the easy part, or so I thought for the moment.

"How 'bout I just take 'er around the block first, to get a feel for it?"

Hands shaking a bit, I tightened my grip on the wheel. As I came to a rolling stop at the end of Indianola, and veered left onto Stengle, I spied Mr. Grabowski mowing his postage stamp of a front lawn. The lawns were tiny, like the houses that went with them: 800-square-foot crackerboxes with one teeny bathroom, ensuring as much family closeness as one could stand.

As often accompanies the exhilaration of virgin experiences, time and space became distorted. The street narrowed, eerily. The lawn jockey came to life and swung his lantern in warning. The bowling trophies in the Grabowskis' front window loomed like skyscrapers. I shrunk low in my seat.

"Oh my God, what if he saw me?"

Somewhere in the momentary silence I thought I heard a unanimous, telepathic expletive.

"Oh shit!"

We never thought about neighbors being out on a sunny, holiday-weekend afternoon!

I navigated the next turn, left onto Roxberry, at what felt like full-throttle-about 15 mph. Halfway around the block, I was just beginning to think about possible consequences of my impulsive act. The Jamiesons were cleaning out their garage and Jimmy, age 5, was riding a Big Wheel in the driveway. Mrs. Jamieson paused from hosing down the garage floor to look our direction.

"She sees us!" screamed Julie.

"Duck!" yelled Lynn.

"Oh my God, she knows I'm not old enough to drive. She'll tell my parents!" my 13-year-old genius brain deduced out loud.

"Step on it!" Lynn shouted.

Unsure of my next move, I stayed steady, but low. So low I couldn't see out of the front windshield, which would explain how I missed seeing, and consequently hit, the parked car on my right, just as I rounded the corner from Roxberry to Copeland. It was more of a sideswipe than a direct hit, but I knew the battleship was sunk when Mrs. Dubinski ran through her front bushes in response to the metal-on-metal noise.

A feeling of unreality came over me. I detached myself from my body and wished I could distort time and space further, like go back in time and leave the car keys on the end-table. In my mental departure I easily relinquished control of the wheel to Lynn, who swerved us around the last corner from Copeland and back onto Indianola. The getaway car sped away at 13 mph and I felt another small jolt and heard another sickening crunch. I slammed on the brakes after seeing that we'd French-kissed the '69 Impala parked in front of the Butlers' house. I had regained control of the wheel but Lynn put her foot next to mine, which was on the brake, and forced it onto the accelerator.

"Let's get outta here!"

She echoed my thoughts exactly.

We were in the home stretch. I could see the safety of the little Stanfa bungalow about 250 feet away. Distracted by the angry shouts from outside the car, I turned my head, to see the half-a-dozen eyewitnesses chasing us on foot.

"Get back here! Ya hit my car!" boomed Jack Butler.

In that instant, brief distracting moment, the Malibu goosed the rear end of the Foltz's Ford pick-up.

Doesn't anybody park in their driveway anymore?

It was the first logical thought I'd had all day.

Once parked in almost the same spot from which we'd departed, Lynn and Julie vanished faster than Endora when Darren got home. I was alone: The little witch of the neighborhood, only I couldn't twitch my nose out of trouble. The villagers were gathering in the front yard, intent on a hanging- at least a verbal one. Lori met us on the front porch.

"Where are your parents?" Mrs. Butler of Lori-in-charge.

I ran inside ahead of the pack, and locked myself in my room, in typical adolescent style.

The only part of my body that wasn't shaking was my eyeballs. They were tiny rafts, lost in churning, hydraulic, class-six white-water rapid tears. Collapsing into a fetal position on my bed, I cried and prayed.

Please God, let me go to sleep and wake up to a different reality, where this doesn't happen and I'm cute and popular and David Cassidy is my boyfriend and where my parents don't bludgeon me with my lava lamp.

And then I realized there was no way I could fall asleep, especially with the sound of the siren whining louder and louder. I knew without lifting my head from its trembling, coiled, knee-rest that the siren had stopped in front of our house.

"DC, you'd better get out here! The cops are here and I'm not talking to them! Come out or I'll get a bobby pin to pick the lock!"

I knew she wasn't bluffing. I also knew the closest I would get to David Cassidy would be the poster on my wall-which hopefully they'd let me take with me to prison.

To purchase DC's book, visit

To top of page