Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Monday, March 22, 2004

Failure of the Day: The Wheel

It's a very little known fact, but I have a drivers license. A valid drivers license. I just renewed it by mail thanks to one of those fits of laziness that in retrospect look like genius foresight. I never got a Washington state ID of any sort even though I was there for over 3 years. I just kept flashing my CDL and everyone was pleased as punch to tell me how they had been to San Francisco once and just loved it. The matter of proof of my identity got swept right aside because had I ever been to Haight street?

I didn't notice that my license had expired until several months after it had. Turns out I don't get carded so much these days. I didn't even have to go to the DMV; I just filled in a form online because I guess I'm still eligible for extensions, and that's fine by me. It came in mail after a little while and I am all legal to drive and junk now.

Here's the thing: I haven't driven a car in over 15 years. Ok, one time in, I think, 1995 I drove on the freeway home from LA, but that was seriously not any sort of example of my vehicular prowess…I was ok on the highway but got totally petrified at our exit and had to pull over so Tarin could take the wheel. And technically, there have been two occasions on which Chris has tried to teach me to drive his car with its totally stooopid and pointless automatic transmission (hello? they invented a thing to do that for you! What is this…the dark ages?) and although I didn't crash it into anything, once again the experience did not speak so well about driving skills.

Which is a shame because I used to be really good at it when I was a teenager (except that time when I was coming up to a stop sign where there was a car just, y'know, stopped, and then the fact that I needed to stop too just completely slipped my mind. I can still hear Melissa's voice just after we swerved: "Wait…you forgot to brake?" it was that same tone she used when she inquired into my general mental well being after I lit a cigarette while pumping gas. But honestly, who knows that rule at age 16?), but the longer I go without driving, the more nervous the idea of it makes me.

I feel somewhat salved by Martin Amis (and really, what else is new?) who says: Poets don't drive. American poets can drive, but shouldn't. That makes me a true blue American poet: I have a license; I can drive. But I really really shouldn't.


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