“Takin’ a different route,” he tells you, directing you to turn right and head onto the freeway.
You ask if you’re ready for the freeway and he grabs you by the shoulder. “Don’t waste your time!” he shouts. “Do what you need done. Say what you need said. Make sure you get it all out before the people you need to say it to are gone.”
“We’re going to another funeral aren’t we,” you say, turning onto the on-ramp.
“We’re going to another funeral,” your instructor says.
You’ve had six lessons so far, and four of them have been spent driving in cemeteries past funerals. They’re all funerals for women with whom your instructor had torrid affairs.
“Heather Bonaventure,” he says as you exit the freeway and head toward the cemetery. “She was married. Married to the wrong man, and she knew it. Way she behaved in bed, it’s like she was trying to cram in a whole lifetime’s worth of loving with me, even though we didn’t have but forty minutes before her mister came home.”
Your driving instructor is eighty-one years old and it’s clear he’s packed a lot of sensuality into those eighty-one years. But it seems he can only see the regrets.
“Did you love Heather Bonaventure more than you loved Felicia Campopiano?” you ask him as you creep his Buick past the gathered procession not fifty feet away. Felicia’s was the funeral he drove you past two lessons ago.
“No comparison,” he says. “Loved ‘em at different points in my life. Man who loves at 30 isn’t the same man who loves at 45. Aw God, Heather,” he bleats at the coffin, clenching his fist to his mouth to hold in his sobs.
“Did you ever love anyone but Italian Catholic women?” you ask, now doubling back as the casket is being lowered.
“No female blood hotter to the touch than Italian Catholic,” he says. “No offense.”
You’re a Russian Jewish woman but no offense is taken. You’d complain about all of his driving lessons being about how to drive slowly in cemeteries so you can spy on funerals, but you’re hoping he can teach you a much more important lesson.
“How can I be sure that when I die, I’ll leave behind men as heartbroken in love with me as you are with all of these women whose funerals we covertly attend?” you ask.
He wipes the tears from his eyes, takes a deep breath and says, “You give them a glimpse of your heart, then you hide it away forever. Now get me the hell out of this cemetery.”
You exit the cemetery and head back to the freeway as your driving instructor weeps into his hands. Give them a glimpse of your heart, then hide it away forever. It sounds cruel, you think, but necessary. If it means someone will be driving slowly past your funeral in tears, it’s necessary.
Happy Driving Lesson Day!