On the Road to Love, Keep Your Eyes Ahead (And Don't Look Back)
08/18/2010 - 08:51
James Besser

"So, Avigail, how long have you been driving?" the Israeli driving instructor asked me, peering around his shoulder to look at me in the back seat.

The 17-year-old with the tzizzit and pimples was behind the wheel.

"Oh, only 22 years," I said, adding it up on my fingers.

"What are you saying?" the instructor asked.

I'm shocked, too. Believe you me. Because I first learned to drive in 1988 at Highland Park High School. (Highland Park, Illinois, people!)

It was there, in a dark classroom in a rickety part of the building, where we watched horrific "educational" movies from the 70's in which paraplegic teens warned us not to drink and drive.

Drink and drive? After watching those movies I was ready to forgo ever setting foot outside my house again!

We also got to tool around in these little cars on the range, this mini-driving area near the football stadium. The teacher, who doubled as the football coach, would tip his hat over his forehead and take a little cat nap, the better to either block out the hangover he was nursing or to deliberately not see when someone very much like me smashed into one of tough Italian twins.

Only this is Israel in 2010. Which explains why there is a baby seat in the car used for lessons. (The teachers use their private cars for lessons.) The teachers also feel free to answer their cell phone during lessons! Which just competes against the music playing from the radio.

But what can I do? As a new citizen wanting to get my drivers license, I have to take some lessons. Which means suffering through the comedy of once again sharing the car with folks who have not even been alive as long as I've been driving.

It just brought me back to when we were practicing on the highway and someone whose name rhymed with "Sabriel Fenboza" drove the car up on the median strip. (The median strip!)

But what does this have to do with my love life?

Only that it reminded me of a wonderful essay written by Katha Pollitt about learning to drive in her 50s, which was really an essay about her break-up from her ex, whom she referred to as her lover.

Can we talk a second about that word, people? Because when someone refers to someone as her "lover" I can't help but think of them "making the love." But if you call someone your boyfriend or husband then I also think you occasionally go out for Chinese food. Or mostly go out for Chinese food and occasionally make love.

In any event, keep me out of your bedroom!

But in going back to the Pollitt essay, which I had originally read in the New Yorker, I kept wondering where the bit came in where she webstalks her ex-lover, who it turns out was actually her husband. (She's not the only webstalker out there.)

So it's the Webstalker piece I really want to discuss. Not only because it is at once profound and accessible, not to mention beautiful, but also because I could identify.

I mean, really identify.

Which is another way of saying, No more!

Better to keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road ahead of me.

And the road behind? That's no longer my concern.

 

 

 

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