Once 17


Nazy Kaviani
by Nazy Kaviani

I am teaching my son how to drive. It is an exercise in futility! For starters, I am not a good, experienced driver myself. Up until last year, I had always been driven around by others, seldom having to drive myself anywhere. Now, all of a sudden, I not only have to drive 30 miles to work and back everyday, I also have to give my children rides, make airport runs to pick up guests, drive around the Bay Area late at night, going to or returning from concerts, events and such. I must also “teach” these young men how to drive. If it weren’t so nerve racking, it would be quite comical!

I was telling my kids why I didn’t learn how to drive until I was 26. As with my other siblings, the summer of my high school graduation, my father asked Jenab Sarhang (The Colonel), who had a driving instruction school in our neighborhood, to send someone to teach me how to drive. That first July day, with the cool 6:00 a.m. breeze of Tehran on my face, I reluctantly got into the yellow Paykan that the teacher had brought to our door, complete with the second set of gas, clutch, and brake pedals under the teacher’s feet. He introduced himself. He was the Colonel’s son, a young and handsome man. Well, he already knew who and whose daughter I was.

We started with the basics and the first session went quite well, I thought. The second session I noticed that my teacher was wearing a very strong cologne. I looked and he wasn’t wearing the jeans he had worn the first time. He was dressed in very nice clothes. As he was coaching me and I was gingerly trying to learn driving, he started talking to me about life, asking me questions and engaging in some serious philosophical discussions. It was so hard for me to concentrate on my driving, because at 17, I had to simultaneously think about such big topics as the teacher asked me.

The third time he came to my door, instead of letting me turn on the ignition and go, he turned to me and started talking to me about himself, his life, his philosophies in life. We drove for about 500 meters and he had me stop the car under the shade of a tree, where he went on to talk some more, asking me questions about my “plans” for the future. I was increasingly uncomfortable and miserable in that car. Finally by fourth class he asked me if I would consider “marriage!” I had to tell him yes, I do consider marriage, because I have a boyfriend I would like to marry someday. Oh Boy! This really upset my teacher-turned-“khastegar” (suitor)! He stopped talking to me. He was actually ghahr with me! He refused to talk to me or give me any instructions! I tried it one more time, and when I realized this guy is not fitting the bill for a driving instructor, and would rather be a jilted lover or something (!), I went home and refused to go to driving training anymore, taking much blame from my parents and teasing from my sisters! That’s how I didn’t learn driving when I was younger. Why I didn’t learn it for the next nine years, and how I finally did learn it are two other stories I will have to tell some other time.

My children think I am so predictable, and that they know everything there is to know about me. Lots of times, I get the "broken-record-reaction" on their faces when I start talking to them about life and different issues. Sometimes I tell them a little story they have never heard before (and I know just how many of those there are in my heart and in my head!). Then I see in their eyes that I confuse and startle them! That isn’t such a bad thing, as sometimes they need to be reminded that their mother, too, was once 17!


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