One of the many things that most of my friends have mocked me for at one point or another over the last five or ten years is my ignorance in the matter of driving a car, and admittedly it is something that I give myself a hard time for as well. There was a time when I could blame my parents for this handicap. When I was in high school and inquired with my parents about the possibility of lessons, I was told that it would cost too much to include me on the insurance, that perhaps the subject could be revisited once I started college. College came and went, and though I learned many things, driving was not one of them.
My bitterness over the matter lingered, but eventually I realized I had reached a point where I could no longer pin the blame for this particular shortcoming on my mother and father. I did in fact begin the process this past summer, but could not get it all done before I boarded my flight. In fact, I made relatively little progress, beyond getting my permit and driving squares and figure eights around the tarmac at Floyd Bennett Field. I had originally entertained the idea of doing a driving program here, but everyone I know said I would be crazy to learn from scratch here, especially with the increasingly grim winter weather. It is also very expensive, just over 1200 euros with the state-mandated 20 or 25 hours of instruction. So I still do not drive. However, last Thursday I took a leap forward. We had our first "Machinisme Pratique" class, and I got behind the wheel of this:
Oh! What!? How you like me now!? Actually it isn't as impressive as it might seem at first glance. I drove this monster of an enjambeur (French for vine-specific tractor) for maybe 3 minutes, around the parking lot outside the barn where the school keeps its machines, and not particularly well. Still... for someone who lived almost his entire life in an environment as urban as any in existence, it was kind of a thrill.