Vicarious Road Trip

I’m barely 40 pages into Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live and I’m already feeling jealous. Not of his talent for comic writing, though he has plenty of that. I’m feeling strangely jealous that I’ve never been able to go on a solo road trip with 600 CDs like he’s doing. You see, I’ve never had a driver’s licence. 99% of the time, it’s no big deal at all. Well, more like 80% of the time. When my wife and I do occasionally need to drive, we either rent a car or borrow my Dad’s or her Mum’s, and Brooke does the driving. I know she resents it a bit (okay, maybe a lot), but at this stage I really think it might be too late for me to learn.

I did know how, once. Just like every other kid, I signed up for the driver education classes at my high school and did perfectly well. Except for one thing. It was probably at my very last lesson when my driving instructor advised me not to book my test appointment until I practiced my parallel parking. A lot. At this point in the story, my memory gets a bit foggy (this is, after all, now more than 25 years ago). I did NOT practice my parallel parking. In fact, I got a bit annoyed with his advice. And when it came down to it, I guess I just didn’t care enough. All of my friends were getting licences, and some of them were even buying cars. I was happy, like Iggy, to be the Passenger. Until now.

It’s not that Klosterman has made me crave the experience of actually driving thousands of miles. The physical and mental effort of keeping the car safely between the lines and away from the cars in front and behind strikes me as exhausting. But there’s just something about the particular kind of solitude with musical accompaniment a “road trip” offers that a bus journey with an iPod just can’t match.

Even if I were to practice my parallel parking, after all this time, and successfully obtain my driving licence, I doubt very much whether I’d be able to take off on my own with a trunk full of music. I suspect that there would be some marital payback which would involve me doing every single bit of driving for the next ten years, and beyond. And as a much older new driver, I could never build up the self-confidence that would let me roll down the window and rest one arm on the doorframe. Instead of the freedom that I have in mind, more likely I’d be squinting at highway exit signs, nervously changing lanes and trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel.

If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll get back to my vicarious road trip now. At least when I start to get sleepy, I can just put the book down and go to bed.