Later that morning, Babbit paid us a visit, demanding the rent. Peter was teaching me a complicated guitar riff on Mikeís 12-string Gretsch. Micky was teaching Davy some surfing tricks out on the beach, since the waves were extremely high that day. I had a feeling we were in for a tropical storm. Us or Hawaii, I amended. Mike was in the living room working on a new song that sounded suspiciously like "St. Matthew" to me. He was nearest to the door and thus answered Babbitís loud summons.
"Nesmith!!! I need the rent!!!"
"Hold your horses. We donít get paid for our gig at the Club Cassandra until tomorrow."
"Then first thing Monday morning, I want that rent . . . and who is that?" he pointed at me.
"Mickyís cousin," Mike hastily improvised. "Sheís staying here until she can get a place of her own. Uh, her parents were killed in a storm and she was the only survivor. Now please leave us alone so we can work!" Mike glared down at the shorter man, using his height advantage to intimidate.
"If sheís still here next time I collect your rent, it goes up. I wonít allow free-loaders!" Babbit screamed and stalked off. Mike closed the door behind him and slunk back down on the couch.
"Guess we have a month to either get you home, get you a job, or get you your own place," he drawled.
"How can I get a job if I have no I.D.? I donít know how to get home yet . . . and I donít wanna leave all of you. I like it here."
"Weíll have to get you some I.D. then," Peter said firmly.
"Okay. Now remember, BE CAREFUL! and go slowly."
Mike slid over to the passenger seat while I got up and walked around to the driverís seat of the Monkeemobile. Weíd devised a plan to get me a job: first teach me to drive the Monkeemobile. Then claim I was a castaway and all records had gone down with the ship, I had amnesia so I couldnít remember my name, and thus Micky had named me Lenora and wanted to adopt me. Then, with birth certificate in hand, weíd go get my drivers license.
I settled into the driverís seat of the huge car. The B52sí song "Love Shack" started playing in my mind -- especially the line, "I got me a car, itís as big as a whale, and itís about to set sail!" Iíd always thought that it had to be about the Monkeemobile. How was I going to manage to drive this . . . and keep it in pristine condition!
"Okay. You said you had driving lessons, right? Well, do a slow circle of the parking lot," he drawled. I nodded, too nervous to speak.
I adjusted the mirrors and seat, then pulled out slowly. The parking lot wasnít that huge but it took ten minutes to circle because I was going at such a slow crawl.
"Not bad," Mike drawled when I stopped. "Not bad at all. Nervous huh?" I nodded -- although it was more like petrified. "I was too, first time I drove the Monkeemobile. We all were at first. Itís a big, unwieldy car . . . and very powerful. You gotta be real careful cause the acceleratorís real touchy."
"Yeah, with that engine, Iíd be surprised if the accelerator wasnít touchy!" I said. Mike chuckled.
"All right, shotgun. Letís try it a little faster this time. Itís a big lot and completely empty, so you can practice handling our babyís accelerator. You said you had trouble with right-hand turns."
"Well, then letís kill two birds with one stone -- circle the lot clockwise, and try to go faster. Get the feel of the accelerator and practice your right-hand turns." I nodded and slowly pulled out again.
An hour later, I was zipping around the parking lot with easy and making sharper and sharper turns -- something I hadnít thought possible with that whale of a car.
Suddenly, a cop car was motioning for me to stop. I stopped and put the Monkeemobile in park. The cop got out and walked up to the car.
"Can I help ya officer?" Mike drawled.
"Teaching your daughter to drive?"
"No, heís my uncle!" I corrected.
"You got a learnerís permit?" the cop asked.
"No, Ďcause she can only come visit me on the weekends, when the DMV is closed," Mike drawled, his accent thickening. Whether it was due to nerves or anger, I couldnít tell.
"Then why donít you get it with your parents during the week and practice on the weekend?"
"My parents wonít let me," I said softly, almost a whisper. "They donít want me to drive. They want me to get married and be helpless. So Uncle Mike is teachiní me on the sly." I slowly adopted a Texan accent as I spoke to give the cop a little "family resemblance" to pounce on.
"I see. Yeah, there is a bit of family resemblance . . . I donít know why I didnít see it before." He pulled out his ticket book and wrote something down. I heard Mike gulp behind me. I couldnít even do that, my throat was so dry.
"Hereís a temporary permit -- just for today. But I want you to sneak away to get that permit before you drive again, understood?"
"Yessir," Mike and I said simultaneously.
"By the way, what school are you at?"
"Grant High School," Mike supplied.
"Good school. You must be pretty smart to be there. Good luck with your driving lessons!" The cop smiled and got in his cop car, driving off.
"Man, that was close," Mike sighed.
"You got that right shotgun!" I replied.
"Good job pickiní up my accent there -- fooled him into thinkiní weíre related. Letís get back to driviní . . . to the drive-in for malts!"
I made a face. "For you maybe. Me, Iím haviní a milkshake."
Mike chuckled. "One malt and one milkshake. Got it. And then weíll drive home -- bring something home for dinner."
"Okay. Now . . . where is it?"
Last updated 13 OCT 98
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