The year was 1962. I was 16. Mother had driven me to a neighboring town to take a driver's test so I could get my first driver's license.
My mother had given me solid instructions on how to parallel park. She told me to look in the store windows for a reflection of where the back bumper was situated so as not to hit the car in back of me. So, I soldiered my way through the parking part of the test. Successfully. He was impressed, I think.
To make a grueling story short, I passed both the written test and the hands-on test and was granted my driver's license on my first try. My heart pounded with indescribable joy, and I saw my mother wearing that certain smile of pride that mother's wear when their children actually accomplish something worthwhile. My greatest reward was when mother handed me the car keys and asked if I'd like to drive us back home.
The excitement was almost too much. I got behind the wheel, cautiously wiggled our '56 Chevy out of the courthouse parking lot in case the officer was still watching me, and followed the streets that would take us out of town. Naturally, my mind was all over the place as I basted my ego with slathers of self-confidence. Then came the scream. I slammed on the brakes as mother yelled at me, "You just ran a stop sign, for god sake. Get out and let me drive."
Well, my happy bubble didn't last long as I sadly and tearfully relinquished the driver's seat, but I held onto a tiny bit of gratitude that it was my mother in the car with me and not the police officer when I committed my first violation. At least I still had my license in my billfold, and, believe me, that one careless mistake taught me more than all the driving manuals ever printed.
Knock on wood, but in all the 49 years since that highly overwrought day, I have never been stopped by an officer, nor have I received a traffic citation. And, I still hold the coveted title for being the most skillful parallel parker in the Midwest. Or so I like to think.