My provisional licence turned six months old last weekend and panic stations set in. What the hell have I been arsing around at on the roads this entire time? The six month birthday of my little plastic rectangle means that I can now sit a driving test. It means that I should be well able to pass that driving test since, you know, it has been six months. Meanwhile in the Driving Academy of Aisling, I have yet to go over 70 kilometres an hour, know no hand signals or vehicle mechanisms, have never used a petrol pump, and haven’t reversed the car… at all?
The reality hit me like an air bag. My goal of having a licence by Christmas (granted I’ve set that goal for the past three Christmases) has dwindled significantly. My mother is quick to remind me of the ice. “You won’t be driving when it gets icy, Aisling. You’ll be getting very little practice in from now on. You should have done more in the summer….” Blah de blah de blah. I’m beginning to think Bob Marlay was correct when he said “no woman no cry”.
But Bob forgot about brothers. As if the accumulation of licence birthdays, the impending Ice Age and my motherly reminders isn’t bad enough, my brother has entered the mix recently and is vying for the title of First Child Driving. I’m being dramatic, you say? I might alert you to the fact that my brother is three years younger than me, did his theory test a year after me, started lessons three months after me, and is now only two lessons behind me. Also toss in the fact that he lives seven days-a-week with Mammy, Daddy and car, versus me, blowing in from Galway every weekend and struggling to start the bloody thing, and I think you’ll find my response rather reasonable.
Last weekend my eyes were opened. My brother is now a threat. With minimal opportunities to drive at the weekend as it is, I look forward to my leisurely drive home from work on a Friday night as I boast to my mother how wonderful the third year of a BA Connect is – it’s bliss, you should try it sometime. You can imagine my disgust when I see my brother occupying the driver seat, my mother to his left signalling me into the back. Unprecedented, would be the word I would use to describe my reaction. Unprecedented by me, unprecedented by them. Just a general shock to the system.
My tantrum does me no favours and I’m confined to the back seats where I grunt a few responses to questions about college and money and work. What’s worse? My brother doesn’t put a foot wrong. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t half hoping he’d swerve into a ditch, or skim the odd wing mirror en route home, but no. “Isn’t he great, Aisling?” “I feel so comfortable and relaxed when he’s driving”, is on loop in the passenger seat.
I’m getting increasingly irritated in the back, the literal picture of jealousy. As he glides down my little country lane as if sailing on the back of a cloud, I plot my revenge. Upon his reversal into the driveway (yes, he’s even reversing) I play a muffled sound bite of a squealing cat from my phone. Panic. Stations. All hell breaks loose as everyone scrambles out of the car, expecting to find our beloved Patsy either wailing, limping or squashed. My tinge of guilt is no match for my absolute triumph as I regain my title as least provisional driver.
Alas, happiness is fleeting and as my panicked family retreat inside after a search of the garden they are greeted by a purring Patsy who squints up at me with a passive aggression so fierce that I’m certain she knows what I’ve done.
-By Aisling Bonner