Chapter 13


“Ouch!” said Will Ingersoll  as the television station’s makeup artist Kyra plucked a hair from the mole by his ear. “You might have warned me you were about to do that.” He rubbed his face only to have Kyra slap his hand away.

“You’ll mess up the makeup” she said said as she applied powder to his face with a long-handled brush. “There. You’re all set” she concluded as she stepped away and surveyed him. “Don’t fuss with your hair, either. It’s sprayed right where it needs to be.”

Will glanced at himself in the mirror and was pleased that he didn’t look overly made up. No eyeliner or anything, just foundation and powder so that he didn’t shine on TV. After all, presidential candidates wear makeup, he thought. Perhaps tonight would be the start of something big for him. Kind of a “regular guy” segment on the news; the voice of education and reason offering well thought out commentary on the issues. If nothing else he could turn into the face of the teacher’s union on election year ads.

“Thanks….Kyra, is it? This is the first time I’ve worn makeup, so I appreciate you taking good care of me,” he said with a smile. Kyra was a slender fortysomething brunette who didn’t bother much with her own face when she was working. He wondered if guests hit on her all on the time. Will was currently single, having put at end to his last relationship when his girlfriend informed him she slept with her pet iguana in bed and there probably wasn’t room for him. It had seemed like such a good match at first, given his extensive collection of live snakes. He decided to wait until after his interview to approach Kyra.

“No problem. Knock em dead,”  said Kyra as she packed up her makeup kit. A production assistant with a headpiece poked his head in and said “Mr. Ingersoll? You’re on in two minutes.”

“Welcome back to Good Morning Foothills. We’re on with Will Ingersoll, a science and civics teacher at Placerville High School, where the movement to restore teenage driving originated. Nice to meet you,  Mr. Ingersoll” said Ron Ryelin, the anchor. Ryelin was a 33 year old veteran reporter who actually had grey added to his reddish hair to increase his gravitas, thinking nobody took redheads seriously except as clowns.

“My pleasure, Ron,” said Will.

“Now, many of us remember how the driving age was increased to tackle the problems of teens drinking and driving,” Ron said to both the camera and Will. “The thinking at the time was that we would see far fewer accidents if teens simply couldn’t drive. Of course, this move was largely supported by parents who were financially strapped from insuring their teen drivers,and always worried about that late night phone call they might get from the police. Were there other reasons as well, besides the drinking issue?”

Will sat up straighter. “Yes, scientific studies have consistently shown a significant difference between teen brains and adult brains. Teens have less myelin insulting the nerves in their brains. The frontal lobes aren’t fully connected, so the teens access this area more slowly than a full grown adult does.”

“And age 20 is when the brain reaches adulthood, or fully matures?” asked Ryelin, adjusting his eyeglasses with a solemn look on his face.

“No, neural insulation isn’t complete until the mid-20s” said Will. “Choosing age 20 to allow driving was probably based on a political compromise, not strict science.”

“So the voting age is 18, the driving age is 20, and the drinking age is 21. Not much consistency there,” noted Ryelin. “How does this compare to other countries?”

“Well, in most of this country – the US” replied Will, “the driving age is still 16. Other countries range from a low of 12 in Tunisia, to a high of 29 in Saudi Arabia. Most, though, allow driving at ate 18, with some provisional rights earlier than that. “

“Is the Saudi Arabian age 29 for everyone, or just women? Are women allowed to drive there? “ asked Ryelin, leaning in.

Will started to sweat through his makeup. He had no idea of the answer. Ryelin sensed his panic and said “Well, let’s move on. Your student Jeremy Anton is the driving force, if you will, behind the current proposal to allow teenage driving. As his student advisor, I take it you support this?”

“I support his pursuing it,” said Will. “As a civics teacher, I’m always pleased to see my students engaged  with the system.”

“But do you support restoring teen driving?” pushed Ryelin.

“Let me put it this way. Tom Brokaw and the Greatest Generation drove at age 16. They fought wars and invented things and the world is better for it. I don’t know that we are doing today’s teens any favors by extending the artificial womb at every turn. How are they supposed to become adults when society keeps moving the finish line farther and farther away?” replied Will, gesturing expansively.

“Thank you, Will Ingersoll from Placerville High School. After this break, we’ll be back with the story of an ice skating Malamute,” said Ryelin into the camera. Once the red light that signified  live TV went off, he held out his hand to Will and said “Great job, man. I loved that bit about the Greatest Generation. That should play well with the retired viewers.”



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