He says it’s not real. It’s just a common pitfall of the driving lesson.
“I’m teaching you how to maneuver your way through the world,” he says. “I’m helping you to see that something you thought was scary really isn’t scary at all. I’m making sure you can go wherever you want to go without getting hurt. How are you supposed to not fall in love with a man who’s giving you that?”
Tell him he’s wrong, it’s more than that. It’s the hair on his wrists. The way every time you successfully parallel park he shouts, “Blammo, that’s a keeper.” The way he always offers you an altoid when he takes one from the six tins he keeps in his glove compartment.
“I think we were made for each other,” tell him. “I think I want to marry you.”
He says he’s been hurt before. He’s had girls tell him while they were behind the wheel that he was the one they always wanted. Then when it comes time to step out of the car, maybe introduce him to their friends, suddenly they aren’t so excited to date a 56-year-old driving instructor when he’s not in the passenger seat reminding them when to signal.
“Then maybe we’ll never leave the car,” tell him. “When we’re here, in this car, we’re married.”
It’s a wonderful marriage. You pay attention to each other and understand each other. You look out for each other. You’re a team. The sex is dizzying, if a little cramped. If only it wasn’t all poisoned by the growing dread of that driving test on the horizon.
You cry on the morning of the test. “I don’t want a license!” you shout. “I want us.”
He says the license is “us.” That little laminated card represents everything the two of you have built over the last twelve weeks.
“Get your license, or we might as well have been nothing,” he says.
As you drive along the route with the DMV grader in the passenger seat, everything feels wrong. You feel like you’re betraying him with every correct turn. You want to crash over the pylon cone then run to the parking lot and into his arms again.
But you don’t. You pass the test. You honor your time together with a perfect grade. When you look for him in the parking lot, he’s gone.
You still look for him when you’re out on the road. You search the cars ahead for his rooftop Student Driver sign. You worry you’ll find him one day, giving instruction to another young girl. You don’t know if you could bear it.
Your license feels warm in your wallet. It’s an heirloom. A sweet memory. And every time you take it out to flash it at the doorman of a bar, you feel like you’re making a declaration. “I loved once,” you’re telling him as he checks your date of birth. “Look at the face in the picture. That’s the face of a girl who loved.”
Happy You’re In Love With Your Driving School Instructor Day!