Tuesday, January 25, 2005

To Do Before My Birthday

I'm turning forty on Friday. Forty. I keep saying that as if it will somehow make turning forty seem real to me because inside, I'm still about 22. Tonight, my husband and I had to use our fingers and toes to count out how old he is because we just couldn't remember. (He'll be forty-four this year.) What's weirder than turning forty is the idea that I'm married to a forty-three year old man.

So, before I turn forty, I have to do one important thing. I have to renew my driver's license. In person. At the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The last time I renewed it, I did so by mail. The time before . . . well, the time before!

When we first moved here, YoungestBoy was seven months old. So, he was about eight months old when I finally managed to go to the DMV to get my driver's license. He was a baby who hated his stroller, so I struggled to hold on to him while I waited and waited for my turn. I must have waited at least half an hour, maybe longer. Holding him was like holding an octopus--he struggled to get down, wriggled against me, and found none of his baby toys even mildly interesting.

Finally, it was my turn. The DMV worker instructed me to sit at the electronic testing machine where I would test my knowledge of Washington State driving laws. I sat down and dug in my purse for the key to distracting my baby long enough to pass the test: Keys. Regular car keys. Babies like to slobber on metal, especially if there is a danger of gouging a hole in their esophaguses (esophagusi?).

I fumbled around, digging, fingernails scrapping against the crumby bottom of the bag and came up empty. No keys. A buzzing swarm of worry settled into my brain, but I figured I'd left the keys in the car when I took the baby out of his carseat. Even as I started the test, I fretted that someone had already stolen my old Buick Park Avenue which had nearly 200,000 miles on it. But the test went on.

You are only allowed a certain amount of wrong questions on that test. And after each incorrect answer, the machine informs you of your stupidity. I was doing fine, mostly fine, passably fine, anyway, until I came to the multiple choice question about my birthdate.

I chose the wrong answer.

The machine immediately froze and started laughing at me. Distressed, I saw that I had just failed the test because I didn't know my own birthdate. I knew it, I just didn't choose it when faced with multiple choices. Tucking my baby under my arm and my tail between my legs, I went back to wait. I took a number and then rushed to the restroom where I dumped out the contents of my purse on the bathroom floor. No keys. Then, I dashed outside, relieved to see my car still in the grimy parking lot. Sweaty now, and disheveled for some reason, I found my keys sitting on the back seat, right where I'd dropped them to fiddle with the carseat straps.

I grabbed the keys and breathlessly returned to the office where my number was being called. The bored DMV worker raised his eyebrows at me and said, "Birthdate?" I said, "January 28, 1965! I know! I know! I was distracted because I lost my keys and I chose the wrong answer!" He had mercy on me and let me resume the test. I passed.

This time, I'm going alone. And I don't have to take a test. And I'm writing my birthdate with a Sharpie marker on my palm, just in case.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You still feel like you're 22 inside, and from what I can gather, one always does.

5:55 AM  

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