When I was 14, I was introduced to a specific use for autonomous automobiles. My first girlfriend and I were in the trunk back seat of a station wagon, buffered from the watching eyes of chauffeur parents by another couple of friends, making out sloppily, as teenagers do. It’s likely that the parent in question noticed our obvious fondlings, but at the time we thought we were safe from observation. Thinking about it now, with a fair amount of inner disgust, I realize that we must have known that our awkward car romance was being noticed. So why continue such proceedings?
As a teenager, I never learned to drive, and that hasn’t changed throughout my adult years. I was always afforded more privacy than most teens, though, so the need to get a license and spirit ladies away in a vehicle was never prevalent. All of my friends got licenses, and they sniggered about their conquests on four wheels all the time. This trend continued throughout university, but I was lucky enough to date ladies with single dorm rooms, so a car was never needed.
And in Spain, where I was living until very recently, people generally walk, take the metro, or just don’t really drive. Little motos, yeah, but monstrous trucks with forty wheel drive? Not so much. Also, I don’t believe Spanish parents are that strict about their children fornicating under roofs.
I recall the reasoning to learn how to drive. My parents told me of the autonomy it would grant me, and my friends blabbered about how awesome it was to be able to go places without their folks driving them, and how cool it was to pick up ladies using their industrially granted freedom. My house was located near a train line, and I enjoyed walking, and was admittedly afraid of smashing into things or being smashed into, so a car never became relevant enough. I mean, where did I have to go quickly that was so far away?
To me, the reasons for driving are a little ridiculous. No one needs the amount of comestibles and perishable goods that can fit inside the back of a van. And only a few people really need to live that far from a point of civilization and social culture. Cars are like miserable little pods of false autonomy; the faster the machine, the farther away you’ll isolate yourself from other like-minded humans. You’re never more alone than when you’re driving a car to work with the wheel in one hand, and a sloppy donut in the other, a Bluetooth screeching into your ear about trades and dollars and maybe even goods.
Most people think I’m still afraid to drive. Well, that is partially true. But I’ve also spent time in places where driving is simply not the end all be all of conveyance, and everything a person would need is in walking distance. I’m back in the states now, and I’ve never realized how valuable walking and cycling can be before an entire culture stares wide-eyed at your brisk stroll from the alienating comfort of a car, to say nothing about drivers’ bloated rage at manual, pedaled vehicles. Also, have you ever driven with anyone and thought, “what a reasonable individual this is!” My general thought actually is, “why in the name of Mephisto are you so gosh dang angry at everyone and everything?”
Cars isolate people from one another, cost big heaps of money, lead to sprawl that’s simply pretty cringe-worthy on the eyes, and make friendly folks into screaming, drooling rage monsters. I once heard a fellow university student brag about “this girl I fucked in the back of my truck.” Aren’t mattresses and walled structures built for a reason?
I do envy drivers from time to time. It must be thrilling, knowing that after all the traffic, other poor drivers, gas payments, other mysterious car payments, and the general misery of being alone in an explosion powered machine, you get to a destination that could easily be reached via public transit if only the car companies would be brought down by some iron-fisted environmentalist or maybe even economic turmoil. All so that you can bring that nice lady to a remote spot, nowhere near as comfortable as a bed or sofa, and make sweet love to her as your car battery dies because you forgot to turn the engine off. Or maybe I’m just envious and ranting. I do remember the excitement of being quasi romantic in a car, but now I couldn’t imagine trying to get into the correct mental gear with a gear shifter poking at my rear. Again, mattresses!