LESLIE CRISS: Days of driving Miss Bailey seem to be finally over

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!” – J.M. Barrie

“The car has become … an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete.” – Marshall McLuhan

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LESLIE CRISS

LESLIE CRISS

My sister called me early Thursday morning with some exciting news.

“I just wanted you to know your little niece has driven herself to and from school the past two days,” Beth told me.

“Oh, my goodness. I am so proud of her,” I squealed.

You’d have thought she’d announced Bailey had won a Nobel Prize.

My little niece will be 17 in early November. And she has had her drivers license for quite a few months now.

She even has a car – my old Pontiac Bonneville – with a good-sounding stereo and a chosen-just-for-Bailey Auburn University car tag.

I know, those are not the most crucial things about a vehicle, but aesthetics are, nevertheless, important in the big picture.

The car is safe. And that, perhaps, is the best thing about it.

Bailey, however, is much different than her aunt when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

In the months between getting my permit and my license, I drove my parents and grandparents nuts with my constantly begging them to “please, let me drive you.”

And the first opportunity for me to be tested for my license, I made sure one of my parents got me to the proper place.

Here’s how I remember it: I sat at a desk and looked through some odd machine that, supposedly, checked my vision.

Then I took a written test – multiple choice – with all the questions taken out of the driver’s manual I’d been studying for weeks.

Once it was scored and I passed, a Mississippi Highway Patrol Officer got into the passenger seat of my mama’s big, long Ninety-Eight Oldsmobile and I nervously buckled up behind the wheel.

I did a three-point turnabout, parallel parked and drove the officer around without throwing him through the windshield a single time.

I left there that long-ago day an elated and very excited licensed 16-year-old.

Since getting her permit, Bailey has driven some, but mostly when parental persuasion was proffered. I took her driving when she visited me and she did quite well.

Then she waited well after the first opportunity to get her license – months later. And I’m told there were no commands to parallel park or turnabout. I believe she simply had to take a written test.

And when her license was obtained – and she became the owner of a vehicle – she still was content to be driven around by her mama.

Maybe if she had a younger brother or sister, things would have been different.

Once I had my license, my parents manipulated me masterfully: Yes, you may use the car if you will, (choose one) 1. take your little sister somewhere; 2. go to the store for your mother; 3. pick your little sister up from school.

My joy of driving got old quickly.

Perhaps Bailey’s had the right idea all along.

leslie.criss@journalinc.com