If you asked my boyfriend, he (probably) would say that he spent a good chunk of this Valentine’s day with his heart galloping in his chest and his breath caught in his throat, muscles taut with high emotion.
Yes, we drove to a neighbouring town. With me at the wheel.
With my provisional licence and bright red ‘learner’ plates displayed proudly at the front and rear of my car, all I needed to be let loose on the road was a willing victim to supervise me. Well, I say willing: I think said victim was closer to ‘obliged’ at this point. He peppered me with advice on the short walk from the house to the car.
“Take your time. Don’t panic. Just focus on your driving. Don’t look at any other drivers,” he reeled off.
“Don’t show off in front of you,” I contributed, grinning.
“Yep, don’t show off in front of me,” he agreed. “You’ve already impressed me,” he added.
I laughed. “Don’t play ‘yellow car’?” I suggested.
“Yes,” his tone turned dour. “Don’t play ‘yellow car’.” I tried not to grin too obviously at his evident nervousness.
After positioning my L plates, I went to unlock the driver’s door and yanked at the handle. Nothing. Jamming the key back in, I rotated it the opposite way and tried again. Nope. With a sigh, my boyfriend circled the car from the passenger side and held his hand out for the key.
It really is a good thing that he’s legally required to drive with me for another couple of months.
We managed to manouvre our way out of the densely packed student area without too much difficulty. A woman in a silver VW barrelled into the side road I was trying to drive out of; passing was out of the question due to the parked cars packing the sides of the street.
“I have L plates!” I muttered in outrage. “Be nice to me,”
“You have right of way,” my boyfriend assured me, gesticulating wildly at the woman to reverse.
Right of way or not, the side street briefly turned into a game of car tetris as two more vehicles pulled in behind the woman. Luckily, all escaped unscathed.
I chanced a brief look towards my passenger: he looked as if he was going to have a cardiac event.
“Not the best start,” I commented brightly as we finally pulled away.
“It’s not your fault, she should have looked,” he grumbled.
It really wasn’t too bad, for a first drive in an unfamiliar car. My first encounter with a petrol station was uneventful (my boyfriend did have to stop me dripping fuel everywhere, but hey, it was my first time). I only stalled thrice (my excuse being a shift from a forgiving diesel car to a petrol one) and didn’t come into contact with a fellow road user. Albeit that the latter was achieved with assistance from my reliable passenger yelling “BRAKE,” and “STAY IN YOUR LANE,” whenever he sensed that my car was going to be uncomfortably close to someone else’s. In contrast to his intense concentration and barely contained stress, I was having an immensely fun time.
To my boyfriend’s relief, we managed the drive to the neighbouring town to collect my glasses with a new perscription and back without catastrophe. Well, I managed to accidentally block up the road leading into some temporary traffic lights and drifted quite alarmingly close to the kerb a few times (perhaps my subconscious longing to be a user of the pavement again?).
Eventually, I pulled in close to my house and swapped seats with him so that he can parallel park it for me. The two-car-length allowance for the UK driving test is really quite generous compared to the roads around my house. My boyfriend clambered out of the car with a slightly traumatised look on his face, finally back in control of his movements.
“I need a strong drink,” he commented stiffly. I laughed.