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When it comes to driving, I’d rather smoke (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN) – Trentonian

(GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

I used to love driving.

From the moment I got my driver’s license, there was little I enjoyed more than getting behind the wheel and going.

This was 1989, I was 17, and I just drove everywhere. I deliberately tried to get lost, see new things, find my way back. I even still dream about it. A recurring dream, with a stopover in the middle of nowhere, a barn on one side of the road, fields on the other three. I sit here before you today and curse my life for not knowing whether that is a real memory or a dream memory.

Friends of mine moved to South Carolina not long after, and I took a drive there to visit them. Sometimes the plan was for a few of us to pile into my dad’s Pontiac 6000 STE and head to Greenville.

Sometimes it happened on a whim and I just got in the car and left.

The pinnacle of my riding glory was without a doubt my cross-country trip after college, clichés be damned. Me and a friend, 10,000 miles in 30 days, a trip I will never forget.

Even when my girlfriend, now wife, got together, I still had the driving bug. We hadn’t been together long before we ran to Florida to visit her grandmother.

Yes. Me and driving. We had great times together.

Now?

I hate driving. Really and truly. I mean, I’m not opposed to getting behind the wheel and driving a few miles here and there to do everyday tasks, but the idea of ​​getting in the car and driving to South Carolina? To Florida? Cross country?

A short list of things I would legitimately, not lie, rather do:

1) Lose a pinky or ring finger. (I would make the disc for thumb, index finger and middle.)

2) Losing money gambling, enough to make me question my habits (but not enough to actually damage my family finances).

3) Limit my Twitter use to 5 minutes a day (somehow less than the current 38 hours).

4) Babysitting your kids for a night (I don’t really care about kids)

And …

5) Eat cottage cheese (something I’ve never tried, and ask questions of those who have).

One reason I don’t like driving is because I feel like everyone has become too aggressive. Every time I get behind the wheel I feel like I’m playing with fire.

But most of all? That’s because I get incredibly tired when I drive for more than an hour. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled into a Target parking lot to catch some Zzzz’s. I’ve become a bit of a napper later in life – a quick 10 minutes is enough – but nothing makes me more tired than driving. It’s like I become a wannabe narcoleptic when I go out.

However, I noticed that this aversion to driving seemed to coincide with the fact that I had quit smoking a while ago.

And then I started thinking… all those big long drives, all those drives along the coast, all those getting lost in a patch of farmland (maybe), all that “love of driving” was – maybe – not a love of driving.

I think it was a love of cigarettes.

Open road, windows down, Van Halen blasting, Camel Light dangling.

That was a good time.

And those cigarettes keep you awake and driving while you drive 10,000 miles. No wonder I can’t drive to Parsippany and back without taking a nap. No cigarettes!

Ultimately, I sit here before you with the realization: I’ve probably always hated driving. Give me goggles, a leather helmet and a sidecar. That’s where I belong.