Where is a tape recorder when you need one? As has happened so often, my husband, son, and I were driving in the car together when $ asked, “Did I ever tell you about ….?”
I am promising myself that next time I’ll grab my phone and get the next few minutes recorded when he begins a sentence like that. The tale is usually something from his youth that he was not willing to divulge before. Though he grew up a Yankee, he has lived in NC long enough to learn how to tell a tale like a Southern storyteller. His voice changes a little bit, and his timing is perfect. He has an instinct for knowing what to include and what to leave dangling. I’ll attempt to tell his three-dimensional tale in two dimensions, knowing it may fall flat.
This story began when I asked who taught him to drive. I remember being in the car with his two sisters when they had learners’ permits, but I had no memory of his driving. John and $ figured out I hadn’t been with him because he took a driver’s ed class in high school. $ stated he failed the driver’s test miserably. He said, “You must have taken me for the test, Dad. I hadn’t gone more than a block when the tester told me I hadn’t put on my seat belt and wouldn’t pass. I went to live with Lise [in Stanley, NC], and Mike [her husband] taught me to drive.”
That’s when he asked, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was stopped for speeding in Virginia?”
He continued, “Everybody knew the whole state of Virginia was a speed trap back then. I was intent on driving and paid no attention to my speedometer. The cop pulled me over, and when he came to my window, he said the usual things about speeding. I knew I was going to get a ticket. He asked, ‘Do you know how fast you were going? Just what do you think you were doing, son?’”
$ told how everything spilled out. His voice was thick with tension as he said, “Sir, I got my license three days ago and bought this car the same day. I don’t know how to drive a stick shift. I’m going to Long Island, and I’m scared I won’t get through New York City before dark.”
The cop said, “So….you’re a new driver with a car you caint drive, and you’re goin’ to New York? Caint blame you. You go on then, but keep the speed down, son.”