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Slices of Life... Behind the wheel

June 14, 2012
Traer Star-Clipper

With both hands securely positioned on the steering wheel at the currently recommended 9 and 3 (as opposed to the outdated 10 and 2), he maneuvers nearly two tons of metal over asphalt with the ease of butter melting on breakfast toast. Reflexes in cadence with the steel beneath him, he hugs a quick right curve tighter than Spandex on steroids. Starting and stopping on a nickel (which is twice as fast as doing the same on a dime) and turning on a mere penny, he becomes one with his vehicle.

Fast and furious are words that come to mind to describe this scene of nearly professional motor ability. Better put, it is magnificence in action: a man and his machine or in this case, a boy and his minivan.

Power, pure power lies await under this teenager's right foot. If you are going to tap the accelerator, you might as well go full-throttle, and this boy knows the drill. There is no middle ground when you are driving from point A to point B (unless the pit crew requires a pit stop at McDonald's en route). The entire purpose of the exercise is to reach your final destination as quickly as possible, and that means putting the pedal to the metal, my friend. This involves terms such as gunning it or burning rubber take your pick, as long as you don't disobey the 30-mile-per-hour limit in the process of said gunning or burning.

The boy accelerates his acceleration for the 2.6 seconds needed to reach the safe and logical speed limit, and not a mile per hour more his driving privileges depend on it. He then hits the brakes with an equal amount of verve and spirit, producing a staccato effect that leaves passengers white knuckled and breathless. There is nothing gradual about this new driver's behind-the-wheel technique. The journey is exciting, exhilarating and enthralling and that's just during the two-mile trip from home to the school parking lot. Upon reaching the end of his ride, he pulls into his waiting parking spot with NASCAR-like precision and shuts her off for the next seven hours.

Some folks associate the color white with surrender, but this white minivan is nowhere near the yielding or compromising status required of surrender. In fact, yielding is something this young driver avoids, unless of course it is commanded by a yellow roadside triangle.

Under our teen's expert tutelage, white becomes the color of power, possibility and proficiency. White harbors zero negativity over the numbers. A skimpy four-cylinder engine, two-wheel drive and less-than-adequate horsepower only serve as half a challenge for this high school student and his instrument of motorized transport. The have-nots thwart him not because when he is behind the wheel, he is greater than the sum of himself and his auto's body parts; he elevates the capacity of a family minivan to a whole new level of drivability.

Later the same day (after the final bell has rung), he returns to his vehicle. He throws his backpack and assorted sports gear into the rear compartment, taking full advantage of the stow and go features of his dream machine. He revs the engine because he can and puts her into gear, glancing into the rearview mirror before backing out and heading for home.

He is a teenager with a provisional driver's license the Mario Andretti of minivans. Fast and furious don't even begin to describe his capabilities. NASCAR be warned; you're gonna eat his dust.

Follow Slices of Life on Facebook. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Email her at; or visit her website at



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