Jacob, now sixteen, attends driver's training in a dubious building without neon sign. To locate the "cell" where he is taught how to handle the perils of the road, one must walk past the Marine Recruitment office and American Insurance. Patriotic little space there.
In the windowless, airless cube, five other teens and one instructor with shaggy hair and 1970s glasses frames convene to watch videos that include messages from "our President" - George Herbert Walker Bush.
We pay $500.00 for the privilege of these classes which run 6-10 three nights for two weeks.
When I arrived to pick Jacob up tonight, the video was just ending and I noticed that Jacob wore his ear buds while watching. I assume he read Bush Senior's lips. We were "required by state law" not to exit the room until 10:05 p.m. sharp... even though I arrived at 9:59 p.m. and class was clearly over. To literally kill the remaining time, the kids played hang man on the one white board in the room. Two girls wearing flannel pajama pants begged Jacob for his iPod. He handed it over, reckless teen that he is.
They yanked the white cord between them and cranked up the volume... then shouted:
"Don't you have opera on here? I heard you have opera." Click, click, click goes the wheel.
"You have Disney too. Lots of Disney." More clicks.
Jacob said, "Well, yeah." And in fact he does. Loves every musical score right down to Alan Menken's pinkie toes.
The girls then bounced off four feet away to another wall having the following conversation:
"Oh my God. I HATE Disney songs. I can't stand Disney."
"Me too. I hate Disney too."
"Oh! This is that song! I love that song. What's it called again? Oh! From Monster's Inc. I LOVE that movie."
"Oh me too. I love it too."
At that moment, the clock struck 10:04. Everyone turned around to comment, "Only one more minute!"
The two girls dumped the iPod into Jacob's bag and then flipped around to look at me. They giggled and whispered looking back and forth between Jacob and me. The iPod abuser said, "She's his girlfriend. She has to be."
"Oh my God. Is she? She has to be."
"Um, excuse me. Are you his girlfriend?"
I looked up, "Me? Oh heaven's no. I'm his mother. But I love you!"
10:05. Everyone jumped the three steps to the door. As we walked to the car past the marines and insured, I told Jacob what the pajama-clad girls had said about the two of us. He responded, "I know, I heard them. That's just ridiculous. I mean, no offense, I'm not saying you look old, but I mean what are they thinking? Maybe they meant you were the director guy's girlfriend."
My ego balloon deflated on the spot. I had thought that in poor fluorescent lighting, I could pull off 16 for a full five minutes.
Then Jacob shook out my wrinkled ego and reassured me, "I'm sure they meant me, Mom. No way did they mean that guy. I mean, that's how weird and annoying they are - that they put you with me."
So I, um, felt better.
He drove home, almost turning left in front of a car at a green light until I screamed stop and rammed my foot into the dashboard, to, you know, slam on the brakes. I suggested for tomorrow night: less Disney and more attention to the "history of driving" videos. Might actually learn something.