Driven to Insanity


I drive a motor vehicle for a living. A shuttle van. ūüöź

Bigger than a car or SUV, but not like a big 18-wheeler. ūüöõ

The point is, I’m a driver. Which is okay; I enjoy driving. Always have, I suppose.

I got to thinking about that lately, and had to chuckle a bit. Because my classmates in Drivers Education (along with the teacher) (and maybe, my parents) would have probably told you back then I should be banned from the road for life.



My sophomore year of high school, I got to take Drivers Ed. This was a big deal. I was so ready to get my license and be out on the open road.

But the first step was getting through this class. The classroom portion was pretty straightforward and simple, learning rules and regulations, defensive driving, watching that driving film, stuff like that.

But then, there was the actual driving part. Getting behind the wheel and taming that beast!

That gave me a bit of trouble.

For example, my first time to get out on the highway, I thought I was doing pretty well. My teacher wasn’t yelling at me, he maintained a calm demeanor the whole trip, just writing things down occasionally on some kind of form on a clipboard.

Then it came time for me to pull over and trade places with the other student, in the back seat; it was his turn. The teacher got out of the car to stretch for a bit. While he was out, I noticed, in the front seat, the form he had been writing on.

It was a driver evaluation.

At the bottom of the page was a blank section designated “Comments.”

In the Comments section, he wrote: Scared hell out of me.

Hmmm. Guess I didn’t do so great, after all.

Wasn’t exactly perfect on the practice course at school, either. I remember one particular session where I started to slowly drift into the path of an oncoming car. (I mean, 5 MPH slowly, if that.) I didn’t hit the car; I corrected my course in time, but the other people in my car and in the other car all reacted as if we narrowly avoided a fatal head-on collision, blood and scattered body parts and everything.¬†When it was time to switch drivers, the one in the other car got out and, clearly perturbed, asked me, “What are you trying to do, kill us all?”

OK, so I had my moments.

Then, there was the whole ordeal of learning to drive a car with manual transmission. All I have to say about that is: I HATE manual transmission. Please, may I never have to use it again!


The first time I took my on-the-road driving test was great fun. (That, ladies and gentlemen, is sarcasm.) For one thing, I took it in our Chevrolet Kingswood Estate station wagon.

Now, if you’ve never seen one of those, I invite you to Google it and check out the images. The thing measured approximately 50 feet long. You could eat dinner in the front seat while the guy in the back was having breakfast.

Now, try to imagine parallel parking that bad boy.

Needless to say, that’s why I had to take a second on-the-road driving test. Took that one in Dad’s not-much-shorter Pontiac Grand Prix. (Welcome to History of Automobiles) This time, fortunately, I had a younger examiner. The first guy, you could literally break pieces of crust off him.

Anyway, I passed the second time. Yaaayyyy!!

Now I could drive on my own, and start scaring the hell out of my friends, too! Which I did, poor souls.


Through the years, I’m happy to say, I’ve gotten better. Now, I’m a more conscientious driver, and I can even communicate with other drivers in fluent sign language.



Best Scare I Ever Got


People, it’s October, already. Good grief, where has this year gone?!

Well, it’s like Neal Peart, lyricist and drummer for the rock group, Rush, once wrote, “The future disappears into memory/with only a moment between.”*

Time flies, in other words.

You know why it flies? The retail industry.

Just tell me you haven’t already seen Christmas decorations in the store shelves. I know you have. That’s…just…wrong.

Anyway, I digress.



As everybody knows, October is the month for Halloween. And Halloween, of course, is the time to get the s**t totally scared out of you. Fun, right?

One way to get a good scare is to visit one of the haunted houses in your community. You can pay good money to walk through a pitch black building, screaming your fool head off as monsters jump out of nowhere, brandishing sharp implements, chainsaws, Donald Trump photos, whatever will scare you right to the marrow of your bones.

Another good way is to go see a horror movie. A new one usually comes out just before Halloween, one that you haven’t yet watched through your fingers.¬†That was my preferred way of getting a good scare. My preferred way now is not to get scared at all, seeing as how real life does that quite well. A bit too well.

And the best scare I ever got was in 1979, when I saw Halloween, starring Donald Plesance as Dr. Loomis, and featuring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode.

Man, that was a scary movie!


It tells the story of Michael Myers, one seriously ¬†messed-up dude. For starters, he murders his older sister on Halloween night when he’s only six years old. (Can’t start ’em too early, right?) He gets put in a mental institute, but escapes fifteen years later, and returns to his peaceful little hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois (on Halloween, naturally), and gets right to making up for lost time.

There’s almost no blood and gore in Halloween,¬†but there’s plenty of Boo! moments in it. Michael was really good at staying hidden until just the right time, then suddenly appearing with his big ol’ knife to scare all of us to death. (Of course, the same could be said for Sheriff Brackett, only without the knife. Don’t you know it’s mean to sneak up on folks like that?)

What really made it good, though, was the audience. You can choose to watch this movie at home, by yourself (do you DARE??) or with others, but I’m telling you, you can’t beat seeing it in a theater full of shrieking, hysterical moviegoers. I hadn’t heard that much audience participation since the first Rocky movie.


See, that’s the thing: we were all trying so hard to help this girl, and she didn’t listen to a word we said! Stubborn, huh?

Anyway, it was great. That’s when a movie is fun, when the whole crowd is into it like that.¬†And, as I said, the best scare I ever got.

But, I think even it will end up in second place, behind an upcoming feature that promises to be even scarier and more horrifying:

Our Next President!



*”The Garden”, Rush


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Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC