Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bananas can't drive cars. Or maybe they just won't. Either way, they don't.

I think I've got my proverbial thumb on the proverbial pulse of my proverbial readership, and I just know that you kids are the type who get hot for do-gooders in chest waders. That's why I've decided to link to some pics of last week's Second Creek clean-up here, here and... wait for it... here. Thanks to Big B and Max for getting the posts up.

My own photo-less account can be found here.

Damn, I've gotten so desperate around here for post ideas that I'm rehashing week-old events. And writing about Guns 'N Roses. What the hell?

Actually, it might have something to do with the fact that I'll be gone most of next week and, in order to satisfy my NaBloHoJo (the hotel/restaurant chain or the former Mets third baseman, take your pick) obligations, I've been trying to sock away enough posts to get me through the week. Two-a-days are tough. It's even tougher to resist just going ahead and posting what's already in the can rather than coming up with something more timely.

But then timely has never been my forte. Stealing ideas from others has. Aaron provided me with inspiration today with a description of some classic driver's education films from his high school days, which was a long, long, oh-so-long time ago. My golden years (kidding; high school blew chunks) are not quite so far behind me as old man Aaron's, and I have my own driver's ed tale to tell.

The state of Georgia unfortunately does not mandate driver's ed in schools, just another indication that we as a society are more or less okay with 40,000+ traffic fatalities every year in this nation. My parents are good parents, though, and they enrolled me, along with two of my good friends, in a private driver's ed program. Our parents took turns picking the three of us up from school once a week to drive us into Marietta for incredibly boring sessions with our distinguished and apparently ancient instructor, Mr. E.M. Funderburk. Normally I would consider changing a person's name here, but that guy's name is just too good not to share.

The classes were held in a school cafeteria and there were probably 15 people taking Funderburk's lessons with us. I clearly recall one girl who was Russian because she was extremely hot and pronounced vodka "bobka." I guess when you're in conversation with a Russian, the talk inevitably turns to strong drink. Aside from that, I recall almost nothing about the cafeteria sessions other than they were very long and boring, Funderburk was a mean old codger with a low tolerance for teenage behavior, and I dig chicks with foreign accents.

The real fun was to be had on the road. We each had multiple weekend appointments where we would meet Funderburk for a one-on-one real-world driving session in one of those cars with an extra brake pedal on the passenger side. I remember the first one when he took me to Greenbriar Mall to do laps around the parking lot. I'd never even heard of Greenbriar Mall before that day. Years later, incidentally, I applied for some scholarship money intended for "residents of the Greenbriar Mall area." Unfortunately for me, I think that was code for "people who aren't white." I didn't get that, or any, of the random scholarships I applied for.

My most memorable trip with Funderburk was when he took me on the interstate. We got on I-75 north, he had me execute a few lane changes and then, somewhere around Acworth, the dude fell asleep! I suppose that meant I was going to pass the course if he trusted me enough to nod off. He woke up again before we got to Cartersville and had me stop at McDonald's, where he went in and bought some coffee while I waited in the Cavalier with that big sign on top identifying me as a student driver.

My friends and I would compare stories of Funderburk's stodginess and occasional outbursts, and we really grew to hate the guy over the course of his program. Today, though, I still remember some of the key lessons he imparted to me, like getting off the gas as soon as a light turns red, no matter how far away it is; no sense wasting gas driving up to a stop when you can drift. He also drilled into me the importance of being aware of what is going on around the vehicle at all times. No, my driving record is not perfect, but for all I know, the guy may have saved my life several times over by now.

Too many people view driver's education as non-essential. It may be true that most of what goes into driving a car is common sense, but it's the parts that aren't that make the difference. Those people that try to merge onto the interstate at 40 mph? They never had driver's ed. Drivers that slow down when changing lanes? No driver's ed. Jackrabbit stops and starts? Wrong-o. Funderburk would kick their ass.

I just did a Google search. Funderburk is still out there making the streets a little safer. I don't know about you, but that makes me smile. I wonder how that Russian broad is doing?


Today's banana fix was provided by TravelingEm, who calls this the f'd up version of the song. I don't know why she also bothered to send me the non-f'd up version. Does she not know me at all? Anyway, thanks TravelingEm. NSFW.


Courtney said...

That must be why you fell in love with me. Oh, did I not tell you guys I'm Russian?

I can only assume that Funderburk is still falling asleep on the job. Imagine the irony if some student driver had a wreck while trying to wake up their driver's ed teacher.

Jacob said...

I don't think it's required in Georgia, but it is heavily encouraged now. I know our school is required to offer driver's ed now and I think the students have to pass the class to get their driver's license on time. It wasn't offered when I was in high school (about the same time as you).

It's a little goofy here though. There aren't any parallel parking spots within a 40 mile radius of the school and the nearest Interstate is 60 miles away.

nancypearlwannabe said...

We had to enroll in private lessons in NH as well! We had class in the garage of this huge dude named Ralph- he had a giant oiled mustache that he constantly twisted around like a villain. He used to terrorize us, I still remember him threatening to make me wear L and R mittens when I flipped the turn signal on the wrong way once.

ck said...

just got caught up on your posts. was the trail that you hiked the one from sugarlands to leconte? it's a beautiful trail. we hiked that in january in similar conditions. we were going to do the alum bluffs trail, but the newfound gap road was closed with snow. so we hiked from the bottom and then camped on a ridge near the summit, pretending we were at everest base camp. and froze our asses off.

Chris said...

Just an FYI, your thumb has its own pulse, so you check your readers' pulses with another finger.

Sorry, that was uncalled-for smart assery. (but true, nevertheless)

Also, I can really relate to those Banana Phone guys. Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head (usually one that I never listen to) and it makes me so crazy I think my head will explode. Most recently: some effin' Jason Mraz tune.

Allie said...

My driver's ed teacher taught me that the middle finger was a signal just like a turn signal. It's still a bad habit of mine.

Funderburk is like the best last name there ever was.

Aaron said...

Glad I could be a Peter Cetera style inspiration. I don't know why NPW had to take private lessons in NH; when I was a young'un, high school driver's ed was the norm in the Granite State (although she went to a bumpkin high school, so maybe that's why). As a bonus, my driver's ed instructor was also the writing teacher I went on to have senior year and he was the best teacher I have ever had, hands down.

Julie said...

I didn't take driver's ed. I am a menace to society.

The Modern Gal said...

It's the two-a-days that make you the player ... errrrr ... blogger that you will be.

Your entire driver's ed experience sounds so much like mine. My dude had a way of making things appear during the driving sessions ... Like he'd say something about how it was careful to be alert for kids playing and we'd turn the corner and POOF, there would be kids playing. I think he was the devil.

You're right about being able to spot people who haven't had such fine driving education.