From what I can imagine, graduating is a funny thing. You leave four years of study behind and replace it with a dramatic cape, a dubiously symbolic hat and a scroll. But not even. You don’t even get to keep the cape and hat. What kind of deal is that?
From what I have learned from my graduate friends, you also leave without a clue – a notion – of where in the name of God to go from here. I have felt like this for the past 2 months since graduating from The School of Trying not to Die. The School of Perpetual Terror. More commonly known as driving lessons.
There’s one thing worse than having the fear and that’s when you think the fear has a scent. When you think that every car you pass and every passenger you carry can smell the fear wafting from your very core. You know what effect this has? It increases the fear.
One such group that I know can smell it is the Guards. Every time one passes, I seize-up, and do something ridiculous like beeping, flashing, or turning on the hazard lights for no reason whatsoever. It’s as if I am expecting them to expect me to malfunction in some way. And of course, I’d hate to disappoint their expectations.
The reason why my response to spotting the Guards on the road is so irrational is because I’m never in a position to be justifiably afraid. My trusty mother by my side, I couldn’t be any more law-abiding if I tried. But once that hint of neon yellow enters my periphery I’m looking at my mam quizzically and drafting some ridiculous subplot in my head that involves her not having a licence, NCT or road tax. I mean I’ve never asked, but I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.
Last week, I came up close and personal with, not one Garda, but two Nnnyardeee. So there I am, a TGIF kind of night, driving a few friends home from a trip to Eddie Rockets. Elbow-deep in a self-inflicted burger-garlic-chip-and-Oreo-milkshake-coma my mobility and reactivity is… compromised, to say the least.
I spot it well in advance, that familiar neon shade, interspersed with flashing blue – my first checkpoint. Oh, boy. I frantically whip around, just to make doubly, triply sure that my licence holding friend (who I’m actually in conversation with) is definitely, definitely still in the car. I secretly lock the doors from the inside as there’s a good chance he might hop out just to watch me sweat. My brain is abuzz with controls. Gear. Breaking. Breaking. Gear. DIP THE HEADLIGHTS, shit. Breaking. Breaking.
“Eh Ais, you should probably turn the music off”.
The surround sound function of my brain powers on again and I remember that my friend has just put on Big Sean’s ‘I Don’t F*** With You’ on full volume. I mean, the title is appropriate, depending on how you look at it, but the chorus of the song makes it harder to see that perspective. In a desperate attempt to turn down the volume, my friend, who clearly can’t tell the difference between a plus and a minus, cranks it up a several notches.
Is it too late to pull a U-turn? Would it really be that incriminating? I’ll never know because the answer to the first question was yes. When you’re feet away from the two Nnnyardeee, it is definitely too late to pull a U-turn. With a wince that says ‘I’m sorry my friends are idiots and I’m sorry for overdoing it with the Oreo milkshake. I’m just a stupid ass b*tch who wants to get her degree’, he lets me pass.
Big mistake Mr Garda, the neon fear has been faced and conquered.
Well, until the next checkpoint.
-By Aisling Bonner.