Tag Archives: Learner’s permit

The Inferno: Another Holiday Adventure


Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself at the DMV…

December 28th. 7:50 AM. Frigid temps. My son needs to take the test to get his learner’s permit. We have tried to beat the rush by arriving before the DMV even opens, but a line has already formed from the entrance all the way to the end of the building. My son and I take our place at the back of the line.


Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

The doors open promptly at 8 and oh, rapturous joy: we finally make it inside. As our limbs begin to thaw, we wonder…Is this Paradise?

We slowly advance through the snaking line until at last it is our turn to approach the info desk.

There dreadful Minos stands, gnashing his teeth:
examining the sins of those who enter,
he judges and assigns as his tail twines.

I mean that when the spirit born to evil
appears before him, it confesses all;
and he, the connoisseur of sin, can tell

the depth in Hell appropriate to it;
as many times as Minos wraps his tail 
around himself, that marks the sinner’s level.

Always there is a crowd that stands before him:
each soul in turn advances toward that judgment;
they speak and hear, then they are cast below.

Minos takes a cursory glance at the documents clutched in my hand and informs us that the original Social Security card (not just the number) is needed for identification.

But the stars that marked our starting fall away.
We must go deeper into greater pain,
for it is not permitted that we stay.

Suddenly, I understand why this plaque is so prominently displayed on the DMV building…


We drive back home in quiet despair. I have no idea where my son’s Social Security card might be. I remember only that it was mailed to our house (two houses ago)! shortly after his birth. After multiple moves, it could be anywhere or nowhere at all. I frantically root around in various locations where I may have stashed it away more than 15 years ago.

Miracle of miracles! I find the card and we drive back for Round 2 at the DMV.

“No pressure or anything, kid, but I really, really hope you pass your test after all this, or somebody‘s not going to be feeling so jolly…”


He gives me an anxious glance as he trudges to his cubicle to take the test.

Are you feeling anxious, dear reader?

Do not be afraid; our fate
Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.

The boy has passed! The next day I take my newly minted learner to the parking lot of the elementary school down the road. I taught my oldest son to drive there just last year…

We buck and lurch around the parking lot until he comes to a stop and wails, “I can’t handle all this power!”

They yearn for what they fear for…

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The way is long, and difficult the road…

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Perseverando. Perseverando. Perseverando…

Weekend Snapshots 6


Around his thirteenth birthday a few months ago, my son was waxing expansively about how it would be less than three years before he would get his learner’s permit to drive. It’s true that somewhere, somehow, some crackpot, who was smoking weed or was in some other way mentally impaired at the time, deemed fifteen and a half the age at which children could get their learner’s permit to drive in the state of Virginia. Of course, I hastened to disabuse my son of the notion that he would be getting his license at that age.

In as neutral a voice as I could muster I said, “It’s not just about how old you are. We would have to see that you were really ready for the responsibility of driving. We’d want to make sure that you were mature enough to handle that responsibility.”

This silenced him for a few moments. I could see that he was performing some mental calculations before coming to an obvious, but unpleasant conclusion. Finally, he erupted, “If T (his eight year old sister) is driving me around when she’s fifteen and a half, I’m going to be really, really mad!”

It may be years before he ever gets behind the wheel of a real car, but this weekend we went Go-Karting at Windy Hills Sports Complex in Richmond, Virginia for his little brother’s belated birthday celebration and we all did some driving:

Clearly, my daughter was unimpressed with her mother’s driving:

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