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The Narcoleptic Driver?

I was very late learning to drive. It was not until age 40 that I got my first driver’s license. Around that time, I was on some relatively ineffective blood pressure medications that had all sorts of nasty side-effects. Apresoline attacked my joints and made me averse to any sort of movement. Ismelin (which I called Dismalin) made me impotent. And Catapres turned me into a narcoleptic: Whenever I rode in an automobile or bus for any distance, I would quickly drop off to sleep.

Naturally, I was not taking all three medications at the same time; but I had at the time some major concerns about my health. When in 1985 my doctor took me off Catapres, I decided it was now or never. I contacted the Sears Roebuck Driving School and started learning to drive. My driving instructor, Jerry Kellman, was excellent. After a couple of months of driving under his tutelage, I took the driving test and got an excellent score.

No sooner did I get my license than I ordered a 1984 two-door Mitsubishi Montero. Like the model illustrated above, the color was “Dakar Sand.” I was eager to show my father my newfound driving ability, but unfortunately he died of heart failure around that time.

Way back when, he tried to teach me how to drive. But he was so hot-tempered that he would whack me in the head every time I made a mistake; so I decided I would learn on my own. Alas, shortly after I had my brain tumor operation; and everything was put on hold. For my first twenty years in Los Angeles, I depended on public transportation and the kindness of friends.

My Mitsubishi Montero lasted for ten years. Then I burned out the engine by driving up San Marcos Pass in Santa Barbara in low gear. And after replacing the engine (ouch!), my dealership made a mistake that wrecked my automatic transmission. On a trip to Sacramento to see Martine, I started leaking transmission fluid all over the I-5 midway between L.A. and Sacramento. The last straw was in Los Angeles, when an elderly woman driver who was afraid of being late to see her doctor T-boned my car close to home and sent it turning end over end in heavy traffic.

It was only a four-cylinder vehicle, but I grew fond of it.