Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Think I Ran Over Arnold the Pig

Every time I hear the theme to "Green Acres" my butt clenches and I break out into a cold sweat.

Thanks very much, Mr. Raymond.

Archie Raymond was my Drivers' Education teacher, and he had this habit of singing "Green Acres" during our behind-the-wheel training. He'd even punctuate the melody with a quick "bomp bomp" on the dashboard. This annoying distraction did nothing to improve the car-handling skills of our trio of would-be Mario Andrettis.

"Okay, time to hit the road ladies," said Mr. Raymond. "Who wants to go first?"

"1-2-3 NOT IT!" called Donny Duncan, bottom-of-the-high-school-food-chain dweeb with the coke-bottle glasses.

"NOT IT!" I echoed.

"Pussies," said Rick Mustain. Rick was a sophomore jock, admired by some, despised by everyone else. But more to the point, since Rick's parents were divorced, and Rick's dad got wrapped up in the whole "gotta show m'boy what a cool father he has" phase, Rick had already been driving for two years. Dear ol' dad had given him access to the Camaro right around the time he'd given him access to the Old Milwaukee.

Mustain got behind the wheel of the 1982 Ford Fairmont, revved the engine a few times, and we screeched out of he Cowtown High parking lot.

"Greeeeeeen Acres is the place to be . . . "

With minimal coaching from Mr. Raymond, Mustain merged into the flow of traffic and cruised the freeway. Although I couldn't see the speedometer from my vantage point in the back seat, it seemed like we had a pretty good chance of qualifying for the pole at Daytona.

" . . . keep Manhattan just give me that countrysiiiide."

As Donny battled car-sickness, Mustain exited the freeway, and pulled into the K-Mart parking lot so we could switch drivers.

"Okay Duncan, you're up," said Mr. Raymond.

"Me? Why do I have to go next?"

"Just get in the driver's seat, Candyass," said Mustain, as he drilled Donny in the chest with the car keys.

"Ow!" Donny rubbed his right nipple as he bent over to get the keys from the pavement.

The poor bastard. Donny was only taking drivers' ed because it was a requirement, not because he had any interest in actually operating a motor vehicle. If Donny had his druthers, he'd happily pedal his Schwinn or ride shotgun in his mom's minivan till he was eligible for Social Security.

Donny immediately drove over the curb as he misjudged the width of the parking lot exit.

"Neeeew York is where I'd ratha stay . . . I get allergic smelling hay . . . "

We proceeded down Palomino Avenue at the breakneck speed of fifteen miles per hour. A kid on a skateboard whizzed by.

Mr. Raymond had Donny enter the freeway. We accelerated to about thirty, completely monopolizing the slow lane. For the next fifteen minutes (two miles) Mustain and I played a game of "Count How Many People Give Us the Finger".

"Right there! The old geezer in the next lane!" called Mustain as a twenty-five foot Buick blew our doors in.

"You sure she wasn't just pointing at us?"

"No, man, she flipped us off. Her arthritis makes it look weird, though."

"There's another one, the guy on the Harley," I said.

"Check it out . . . a double bird from the kid in the back of that station wagon."

". . . darlin' I love ya but give me Park Avenue . . . "

Donny managed to get off the freeway, and we headed into a residential neighborhood to practice parallel parking. We found a reasonably empty side street, and Mr. Raymond set up a couple orange cones.

Which Donny promptly crushed. Repeatedly.

You've heard of a U-turn and a K-turn? Well, Donny Duncan invented what could best be described as the "asterisk turn".

Forward, reverse, forward, reverse, hit the curb, forward . . .

Once he finally got parallel parked, we changed places and I was responsible for getting us back to the high school via surface streets. I did a fair job, kept up with traffic, obeyed all traffic regulations, and to the best of my knowledge avoided getting flipped off by any road-raging grandmothers.

Mustain, though, spent the whole ride back alternately punching Donny in the arm and giving me wet willies in my left ear.

"Mr. Raymond, can you tell Mustain to knock it off?" whined Donny.

"Ah, shut up, ya little fairy," countered Mustain.

"Green Acres we are therrrre . . . Ba dump ba dump bump, BOMP BOMP!"


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MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I'm guessing the "Green Acres" theme was Mr. Raymond's mantra for relieving stress. Today, of course, he'd be taking Xanax, Rick Mustain would be on Ritalin (or in jail), and Donny would be taking Dramamine. We're all happy now.

Eva Gallant said...

Great post! I remember taking driver ed in high school. The instructor always made the student driver before me pull over to the side of the road and everyone had to say 4 Hail Marys before I got behind the wheel! (And it wasn't a Catholic school!) I think he was trying to say I was a danger to the group and other drivers!

corticoWhat said...

Great! Now I have the GA theme running through my head all day. Why couldn't you have used Petticoat Junction? Better imagery.

00dozo said...

The "asterisk turn". Ha, ha, ha - I actually witnessed one of those yesterday - in a parking lot - at a grocery store. It then took the driver almost five minutes to leave the lot which was less than fifteen yards away.

nonamedufus said...

I failed my first driver's test. Drove over the speed limit. But when I finally got my license I used to drive around with my pals in my Dad's cool 4-door Pontiac Strato Chief. Early on I recall driving around with Paul, Gary and Gary's older brother. I decided to back up, next to a 2 foot high stone wall, just when Gary's brother in the back seat decided to open his door. Had to explain to Dad how I managed to rip the right rear door off, getting it caught on that wall. Good times

Moooooog35 said...


Mariann Simms said...

The "asterisk turn" was brilliant.

I lived in Seoul, Korea for two years back in 1987-88. I don't think I ever saw anyone park without either the passenger getting out to guide them in or a passer-by doing it. And even then they were horrible at it. They put in a Korean restaurant here in town about five years ago when Hyundai built a factory in Montgomery. And each time I'd see a Korean guy park got it! He had to have a spotter!

Old habits die hard I guess.

middle child said...

I'd leave a comment but I don't have time. I am going outside right now to try that asterisk turn!!!!!Wheeeee!

Chrissy said...

This was hysterical!

Jenn Thorson said...

The Green Acres theme, huh? After years of the fear of young drivers, the poor man must have been simply longing for a place without motor vehicles...

Or Eva Gabor.

Not sure which.

CatLadyLarew said...

Ah, driver's ed... good times, good times! They don't offer it in schools here anymore, which left me to train Vlad all on my own. Poor kid!

"Green Acres is the place to be..."

Carolina said...

I was tempted to search YouTube for the Green Acres tune, since I haven't a clue, but I think I'll refrain. Don't want to be hearing it in my head, bomp-bomp-bomping on the dashboard (it sounds like one could get arrested for that) and 'drive' everyone including myself mad.

Great story. Love your writing!

Suldog said...

This almost makes me wish I had taken driver's ed. Did he sing both parts? Or did one of you have to take Eva Gabor's?

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