Flew the Coop

This essay Flew the Coop has a total of 4152 words and 15 pages.

Flew the Coop

Flew the Coop

On June 6, 1982 I became an adult – not a man, but an adult. That same week I graduated from Santa Barbara High School. I turned eighteen and went down to the DMV and passed my driver license exam and was given my first used car. It was one of those very first Hondas they made, so small; it had a motorcycle engine or a lawn mower motor. I don’t know much about cars but I think someone told me it was a 2-cylinder engine and the car was so tiny that if I hung my arm out the driver window my knuckles scraped along the road. I hadn’t needed a license before that because we lived right next to the High School right there on Nopal Street, and my parents taught me how to drive in the school parking lot. I got a 99 on the driver test and passed with flying colors my first time out. I didn’t ask the DMV examiner why I missed that one point, but I think it was because I picked my nose at the last intersection. I’m not a perfectionist so I didn’t insist on taking the test again. Are you crazy? I was free now! Well, sort of.

Even thought my parents had given the car to me and paid for it (I think it cost $350) they were kind of sending me mixed signals. I mean, they bought it for me because they wanted me to be have freedom and independence and lots of fun – right? Or did they give it to me to drive away forever?

I recall my mother always telling us that when you kids are eighteen you’re on your own. I thought she meant it, you know, figuratively. But that’s literally what happened. You see the plans for college fell through at the end of my senior year, primarily because I gave up on the whole idea. Now I just had a part-time job working at the local ice cream shop. I had a position as a soda jerk. When I got hired a couple years later at a hotel, the interviewer looked over my resume and he said he’d never heard anyone refer to himself as a “soda jerk.” I didn’t answer, but he chuckled and gave me the job anyway. You know when you go to an interview and they say, name three words to describe yourself? My prepared answer would be: versatile, enthusiastic, and um, jerk. What’s the adjective of jerk? Jerky? So that summer I was jerking around - no doubt about that. One morning my mom said she was going to borrow my car. I didn’t object as they had bought it for me, but I forgot that there was a case of empty beer bottles in the back seat. She came in the house yelling. “It smells like brewery in that car!” I’m sure I had some wise retort or lame explanation. I think I told her that we hadn’t actually drunk all the beer in the car itself. “Where did you drink them then?” she insisted on knowing. We had gone to Gibralter Road in the mountains and chugged the case in the dark up there where teenagers used to go in those days. I’m still laughing now, imagining my mom driving to the supermarket with a case of empty beer bottles clanking around and enfumed by the odor of stale alcohol. It would have been real funny if she got pulled over. What would she have told the officer? Needless to say, I had a typical amount of contempt most kids that age have for their parents and I was pushing the limits to all degrees.

Again, psychologically speaking, it was probably a self-fulfilling and unconscious act. I would never have thought that I actually wanted to get kicked out of the house, but in retrospect, it’s quite obvious now that I was making it happen – and really fast. Another example is the personal diary I kept under my bed. I mean, talk about stupid. What was I thinking? Yes, I mentioned in a past chapter that I have always kept personal notebooks to record my thoughts,

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