Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Ride Shotgun

I thought writing “You know how to drive a stick shift” was explicit enough while describing my ideal mate for my online dating profile, but I was really, really wrong.
Publish date:
July 26, 2012
romance, dealbreakers, driving, milestones

If you are a single man, living in the Boston area, and you would like to date me, you need to hold a valid driver’s license. There, I said it. I thought writing “You know how to drive a stick shift” was explicit enough while describing my ideal mate for my online dating profile, but I was really, really wrong.

First, there was Gowan*. An IT guy at one of the colleges in Boston. He did not have his driver’s license.

“I just take the bus,” he explained.

No big deal, I thought. I work nearby. I can always hang around until he gets out of work. I imagined casual dinners and walking around the Commons or the North End by sunset. Alas, by staying after work, he’d miss his bus home. Our dates were always short, never involved dinner or walking around. They always happened to be on Wednesday nights, and I always drove him home after we were done making out in my car around 7:30. Super classy.

Moving on, there was Derek*. He lived with his “Aunt” (actually, it was his mother, he later admitted) and worked at a local security company.

“I’m close enough that I can just walk to work,” he explained.

Oh, well, I guess that makes sense. Why drive when you can walk, I thought. Plus, he was only about 20 minutes away from my house on the highway. We were practically neighbors, I told myself.

After Gowan and Derek, I took a wee dating break. When I eventually got back into the dating scene, I looked for a guy that was less my type. A fresh start to break the license-less cycle.

That’s when Stan came along. He was so sweet and so interested in me. By this point, I thought I had laid out my driving expectations very clearly. This revelation that he did not drive was not even a surprise to me when he said it. Although it would have been nice to know that he didn’t drive BEFORE I invested so much time into getting to know him online. But hey, after communicating with someone for a couple of weeks, to say “see ya” because they disclosed that they don’t drive would make me look like a materialistic ho bag. So he wasn’t a driver. He and his brother shared an apartment and, oh, by the way, his brother didn’t drive, either.

“Growing up we just never learned how,” he explained.

Huh. Must be a cultural thing. I guess I should get used to dating men in Massachusetts who simply do not drive. Right? Except Stan and his brother grew up in Vermont, and only recently relocated to Massachusetts. This is when my feelings about license-less men became clearer to me.

I grew up in very rural Maine. Learning how to drive was a rite of passage, a necessity, a symbol of independence. Most folks in the area live out in the woods, with acres and acres of land to run around on. Toddlers are steering snowmobiles and kindergarten kids are driving their own mini four wheelers (not the Power Wheels kind). Ten-year-old kids are driving the tractor around the hay fields and pre-teens are taking apart the carburetor from the riding lawn mower on any given day. Getting your license at 15 or 16 was the logical next step. That meant you could go out into the workplace and earn money to buy cigarettes and Mountain Dew. That meant you could stay out later at pit parties because you could drive home before curfew.

Learning to drive is a developmental milestone; a huge fucking deal, but still, something you just do, because it’s a part of growing up. Getting your fucking license. Learning a new skill. A lifelong skill, which will do nothing but improve your overall abilities in life.

Want to know how I landed a summer internship at a Mitsubishi dealership at age 16? I knew how to fucking drive. Oh, and my aunt worked there, but really, I couldn’t have driven around those six-speed 3000GTs without a thorough knowledge of how to work a clutch and my fucking driver’s license in my back pocket.

Sadly, friends, my tale does not end here. Along came Tomi*. Tomi was perfect for me in every way. A little sassy, a non-smoker. Didn’t do drugs. Respectable friends. A rhino in the sack. Not really interested in sports (do you know how hard it is to find a man in the Boston area who is not interested in sports?!?!). Stable job as a manager, liked roasted Brussels sprouts. Rented his own three-bedroom apartment by himself. Smelled delicious all time. Wanted to start a family. Oh, and guess what? He didn’t know how to drive.

“I’ve never needed to,” he explained.

Did he take the bus? Walk to work? Ride a bike? No. Every day (EVERY DAY!) he called one of his co-workers and asked for a ride to work. Through eight years and multiple co-workers, Tomi always arranged a ride to and from his job. The best part? His best friend (since elementary school) worked part time as a Driver’s Education instructor.

“I’ve been reading the permit book,” he told me when I told him that driving was a deal breaker for our relationship.

The weird thing is, I was starting to think that I was the crazy one. So the last four guys I dated didn’t drive. Big deal. As my friend Adam put it, “If he can throw you over his shoulder and carry you to the bedroom, who cares if he can drive or not?”

But after six months and too many trips to drive my man to Game Stop and the grocery store, I realized how much of a big deal it is to be able to drive.

My last bit of respect for him went out the window after our last grocery trip. While unpacking the bags, he realized he forgot cream cheese for his bagels. I had bought some for my place. He actually pouted, whined, and sulked, demanding I leave my cream cheese for him, since he “had no way to get to the store to buy more.” To his credit, what he said was true. He had no idea of how to get himself to the grocery store to buy cream cheese, without depending on another person. Our life together flashed before my eyes.

“Honey, my water just broke, I’m in labor!”

“Okay, let me call my buddy to come and pick us up.”

I couldn’t see myself partnered with someone who was not an equal. A true partner is able to give as much as they take. If you cannot drive a vehicle, you automatically cannot give as much to your relationship as your partner, who drives a vehicle.

Don’t be the weaker half.

*all names have been changed*