My Way
by Jay Passer

the old man and I
didn’t get along all that well
at the time

the year I turned 15
my older sister was living on a kibbutz in Israel

she had a blue Datsun 200-SX
which sat out front of the house
practically abandoned

my old man smoked weed
I used to go through his bathroom drawers
because that’s where he stashed it

one day I noticed
the set of keys
to the Datsun

I played around with the idea for about a week
and since the old man never broached the subject
I decided to educate myself

at first it was just a spin
around the block
nothing serious

then one day my pal Eddie was over after school
so we went for a quick beer run
which meant waiting at the corner store

for some kind soul over 21
to buy up for us
then back into the Datsun

we drove over to Teri’s and Gloria’s
picked ’em up and headed to The Shells
which was a little beach near the San Mateo Bridge

nothing serious
just some beers and cigarettes and weed
at the ass-end of San Francisco Bay

the old man always came home late
the car safely back in place
me in my room high as a kite

buzzing with hormones and chemicals
listening to the Steve Miller Band
or Zeppelin

eventually came a weekend when
the old man was out of town
for the weekend on business

Eddie and Teri and Gloria and I
took the Datsun all the way to San Francisco
which was about a 40 mile jaunt

at Haight Street we scored
some LSD
and hit Golden Gate Park

it was a sunshine spectacular
Eddie took a photo of me strumming a guitar
sitting indian-style under a tree

when I turned 16 the old man
drove us in his Caddy to some empty parking lot
where I went through the motions

for about 15 minutes
he was a bit suspicious that I seemed to know what I was doing
which made me nervous

I barely passed the driving test
since I didn’t know the rule for when to take a left turn
when faced with oncoming traffic

almost getting the instructor
and myself killed in a very close call
he glared at me and said

I shouldn’t pass you
but I suppose
you’ll never forget that rule again

for the old man’s birthday
the following January
I had the picture from Golden Gate Park framed

that’s a good picture of you
he said
then he hung it up in his bathroom.

PHOTO: Advertisement for 1978 Datsun 200SX.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since this piece was in a sense commissioned, I found it quite simple to compose a linear narrative based on the experience. I barely edited it. However, I never restrict myself to any one style. My process changes with the wind. I do enjoy the challenge Silver Birch Press elicits with their themed issues.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jay Passer’s work has appeared in print and online publications since 1988. He lives in San Francisco, the city of his birth. His latest chapbook, Flower Omelette (co-authored with Misti Rainwater-Lites) is available from Lulu.