When it came to phonal usage, I didn’t have any good role models either, except the old lady, and be damned if she was going to be my role model for anything. While there was nothing to sit on if you were on the kitchen side of the pass through or cross over, there was a chair on the so-called front room side, and the old lady would sit there gabbing for hours on end to her two or three phone friends. I don’t know what they talked about or even who they were; I just didn’t want to know.
But yak, yak, yak. It would go on for hours. And these were true phone friends because she hardly ever saw these people in the flesh since, as I said, she didn’t drive. I can’t imagine a person not learning to drive in 20th century California unless you don’t have a car—always a possibility—or you have like some severe disability that disqualifies you from being able to drive like being blind as a bat or maybe lacking arms.
I suppose the old man had tried to teach her to drive at one time or another back in SC. Hell, back there you could get a drivers license at the drug store for like 5 bucks. But maybe that was the problem. The old man was a lousy car instructor, what with the yelling and the pounding on the dash board, and the fear of getting bonked at any second. Hell, it was scary enough driving the car without having old exploding bowels sitting next to you at any second ready to go off.
Really I don’t know how I managed to learn to drive. I flunked the test the first time and only passed it the second because the DMV guy lived in our neighborhood and his son was in my class, and he gave me a break. We didn’t have driver’s ed back then like when you got to drive around and practice car driving with a teacher. We had something they called “driver’s ed,” but that was a class where you sat and watched movies of the Indianapolis Five Hundred which I don’t think is the best way to teach kids about responsible driving, though they did throw in some films of car wrecks and mangled kids.
Every now and then, the topic would come up, like ma why don’t you learn to drive, and she would say the same thing every time. This doctor had told her that she was like a thorough bred horse. High strung. No she wasn’t nuts. She was a thorough bred horse and high strung and couldn’t do a damn thing about it because it was all genetics. So that was that and there was no using bringing it up again because a zebra can’t change its spots and so on.
So like she hardly ever went out of the house, except on Friday evenings to get groceries with the old man, or to church, to a never ending series of doctor appointments for this or that. That was about it. So she was always in that house like a giant spider and the house was like a giant spider web. And really she didn’t have to go out of house, because we went out of the house, and since, as I said, she had no boundaries, we were sort of eyes and ears outside the house. If you have seen that movie with Steve McQueen, called ‘The Blob,” well, it was sort of like that.