I passed the written part of the CA driver’s test, which was going to expire in two weeks on my birthday. I had to take the test because I’m OLD. I had trouble studying for it because I’m OLD. I may have been passed through because I’m OLD. Most of my friends over 70 are being required to take the written test. They all passed, some saying they were given hints by the staff while taking it. One tennis friend said her 90-year-old mother took it and got all the answers right so I would surely pass it.
I got all my answers right four years ago when I last took the test. But I’m dumber now. I may have Alzheimer’s; I may not. But I’m dumber. I studied the CA Driver Handbook for a month—marking relevant passages, making flash cards with number facts, taking the five online sample tests four times, going from missing five questions out of ten the first time to not missing any the last time. The most useful study aid I used was the CA DMV Cheat Sheet with 50 important tips. I used it as if it were a Bible and prayed for it to save me. I studied for this driver’s test as if I were preparing for my Masters Exam in English again.
Some of the rules were straightforward and easy to understand, as in it’s against the law for adults 21 years or over to drive with .08% alcohol in their blood. I’ve been so tense I increased my own drinking from one drink of alcohol a week to one a night. I never drove after drinking, but I could barely navigate myself to bed.
Other items were vague and complicated with awkward wording and incorrect grammar. I couldn’t visualize some situations like whether to turn my front wheels in or out when parking, uphill or downhill, with or without a curb.
I became so tense I was constipated more often and gained two pounds. Sometimes I sat on the toilet and massaged my rectum with my index finger, masturbating out a long hard turd. The test yesterday was every bit as difficult as I envisioned it. Passing it was like ridding myself of the foulest, hardest, prickliest turd I ever I had ever given birth to.
I left for the DMV office an hour before my appointment to give myself get-lost time; but, with my Map App, I arrived thirty minutes early. The whole process took two and a half hours. I wandered around lost from line to line, filling out forms I forgot to fill out online, taking an incredibly easy vision test. I had my picture taken right before taking the test. I asked the photographer if he would fluff out my wrinkles. He smiled tolerantly. I held my book (LAST TRIP HOME, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and She Writes Press) in front of my chest and asked if I could pimp my newly published book on my driver’s license. He said no but congratulated me. In case you are wondering, I take the book with me whenever I’m in a group of people in case I have a pimping opportunity.
Then I was guided to the three rows of computers to take the online test, then guided from computer to computer when my arthritic thumb didn’t have enough blood at the tip to make an imprint in the little thumbprint doohickey. I was given a written test on paper—18 questions, shorter than the usual 36 because I am OLD. A young girl in line ahead of me had a paper test with 36 questions. Some questions that I had seen on the sample tests were easy; others seemed to be written in a foreign language and I had to guess at them. Holding my breath, I watched the young female staff member check my test and mark errors on every page.
“How many may I miss before I fail the test?” I asked.
“Three, or maybe more,” her voice trailed off.
I missed FIVE–5 out of 18! In the regular test, I could have made 6 errors out of 36 and passed. She kindly allowed me to look at the ones I missed before I returned the test and asked to take a second test. I knew I was allowed to take the test three times. I decided that, if I failed it this second time, I would wait another week and study for the third. What fun that would be! Should I hire a tutor?
I took extra time taking the second test, another 18 questions, some easy–some difficult. I changed my answer back and forth on three tricky questions, none of which I remember now. As I stood in line, waiting for the test to be checked, I was sure I had failed again. Why take it a third time, I wondered? I would just fail again. I tried to reconcile myself to using Uber and Lyft for the rest of my life.
This time a young male staff member checked my test—the same rather impatient staff member who had guided me from line to line and computer to computer. He checked the test quickly making no marks.
“You passed,” he said tonelessly, without looking at me, and started filing papers and stamping things. If I hadn’t been constipated, I would have filled my pants.
“Holy shit!” I said and asked him if I could hug and kiss him. He continued to file and staple and stamp and wordlessly thrust an Interim Driver License at me. I took it and left.
I passed! I am OLD and I passed. But I have to ask myself these questions. Did I really get all those difficult items right? Or did that staff member pass me to get rid of me because I was annoying? Or did he pass me because I’m OLD and he felt sorry for me? Whichever interpretation is correct, I accept my license renewal. I will drive my dog-turd-brown electric car again and may meet you on Sepulveda Blvd during rush hour. Today I’m celebrating with NO alcohol to prove I’m not an alcoholic. What could be worse than an OLD, dumb alcoholic?