It was, I think, just after my 12th birthday. My mother thought I was old enough to be trusted to go to school and back on the bus - alone!
She didn't know I was already way beyond buses. I had even driven her car around the block with my brother David (older brother, I might add), when both our parents were out.
Actually, I remember it really well. I turned the ignition key and put it into gear and my first thoughts were "I'm going to die" followed by "She's going to kill me" followed by "Heeeeeyyy, I'm driving. Cool". When I drove back into the driveway and got out of the car, I thought "I've gone from child in danger to dangerous child".
When my dad finally got around to teaching me to drive at about 17, he was really impressed by my 'natural talent'.
Ah ..... cars! I have figured that one of the most embarrassing things in life is when you become the person you used to hate. That's why it absolutely pains me to admit that for the past couple of days I have been driving a 4WD.
Yes folks, I am now one of those road-hogging, petrol-guzzling, environment-destroying, talk-on-the-mobile-while-driving, compete and utter tossers who drives a 4WD in the city. I have been driving this baby for a couple of days now and the closest I've come to going off-road was when I buggered up a reverse park and ended up on the nature strip.
Friends who know me will also know that my little red car is broken, or sick, and is in hospital.
By the way, did you know that you can now buy spray-on dirt to give your 4WD that off-road look even if you've never been anywhere near the back country.
Let's be honest, I live in the city, what do I need a 4WD for? So I can get to the next set of traffic lights faster? Most mornings, I don't even get my speedo above 50. I don't need a 4WD - I barely need a 4th gear. I don't need a V6, I could probably run my 'little red car' on a couple of cans of VB (that's beer for you Brit type people, who I know, read this).
Come to think about it, if petrol prices get any higher, I think I'll finally get to take this baby off road, because I may have to use it to invade Iraq myself to get some cheap oil. Honestly I filled my car before it broke and I'm sure the car doubled in value.
So transportation seems to be the topic of conversation around our street lately.
It was like this a while ago and my partner at the time, and I went out and had a quick look at cars.
I really don't know about you guys overseas, but here, our devotion to the car borders on worship. Despite what you hear, it's not really a matter of economics, it's an image issue. In Australia, you are what you drive Go and have a look at your car, and there you are.
So I thought a new vehicle (image) was in order.
The red Mercedes with leather everything really felt like me. The bank didn't really think it felt like me to them. Nor did the black BMW convertible.
I remember my next door neighbour suggesting, I put all my money into drugs, stay home and take all the trips I wanted.
Ok so what's wrong with my 'little red car'? Let me tell you ....
Firstly the automobile driver side window has now decided, while it is happy to open, it won't close unless I push the button while pulling up the glass with my other hand (and then pulling out my fingers at the last minute to ensure i don't sever my fingers in the process). And I do have to get the window up as high as possible, because my car has already been broken into.
Anyway, apart from the guillotine window, the car had been fine for some time, but lately things have been falling apart.
As I said, my car was broken into at the airport, then I got a flat tyre, only to discover when I went to grab the jack, that the thieves had stolen than too. I mean, seriously folks, who steals a jack? I've heard of car-jacking, but car jack-jacking? Or maybe their getaway vehicle had a flat and they needed to improvise.
Is there a lucrative black jack market?
As if that weren't enough, a couple of weeks ago I got into the car and I turned the key and it didn't work at all. I turned the key again. Nup, still nothing. Turns out the battery had died. Luckily roadside assistance was quickly on the spot and replaced it with a new one.
Only problem was, when I started the damn car, the stereo wouldn't work.
Obviously my car has some sort of security override, that means when the battery dies, the stereo locks. Now instead of belting out some non-stop blocks of rock, it was flashing "Enter Code" in a way that implied if I didn't enter said code, my car would self destruct in 30 seconds.
But what code was I meant to enter?
I tried the PIN for my bank card, my phone number, the numbers from The Da Vinci Code, Pi to 100 places, 58008 (which is boobs upside down) and last week's lotto numbers, but none of them seemed to work. Finally, I tried my last resort, I yelled at the stereo while mashing all the buttons at the same time. Surprisingly, that didn't help either. Go figure!
It was at this moment when the lovely man from roadside assistance (who I hadn't noticed was still there and I suddenly felt very embarrassed about the shouting and mashing) suggested I check the owner's manual for the code.
At least something was going right. Only one problem. Only a tiny one of course. Turns out when they robbed my car, they also took - wait for it - the owner's manual.
Think I'll buy a Jeep!!! (ask an Aussie to explain the joke, guys). Car won't start again, so I had to admit it to hospital.
Hang on, I just thought of my friend, Damian (not his real name for reasons which will become obvious). He is - how can I put this nicely? - frugal. Like ex Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, Damian would consider himself to be an 'economic conservative'. Most people would use another term. Derived from the Latin - maximus tightius arseus.
Yes Damian is tight and proud of it. You know the old joke about someone opening their wallet and moths flying out? Well, that sums up Damo; except if he had moths living in his wallet, he'd charge them rent.
Why I mentioned him here .... take a drive with Damian and you'll learn that when he puts petrol in his car, he makes sure he shakes the hose until he gets to $50.02, because he knows that they'll round down the amount and he'll drive away with 2 cents worth of free fuel!!!