Saturday, December 5, 2015

Paula Vogel's HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE: A Nymphet's Affair with her Uncle

A Play by Paula Vogel


Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive is about "well-endowed" Li'l Bit's affair with her aunt's husband - Uncle Peck. The affair began when Li'l Bit was eleven while Uncle Peck was giving her a driving lesson. However, the opening act was set in 1969 while seventeen-year-old Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck sat "In a parking lot overlooking the Beltville Agricultural Farms in suburban Maryland," while Uncle Peck massaged and kissed Li'l Bit's "well-endowed" fountains

Vogel incorrectly uses the term pedophilia in the play. For example, Li'l Bit said, "Even with my family background, I was sixteen or so before I realized that pedophilia did not mean people who loved to bicycle..." However, since the affair began when Li'l Bit was eleven, Uncle Peck would more accurately be labeled a hebephile. 

Interestingly, Li'l Bit's grandmother was a "grown-up" fourteen-year-old when she married. "It was legal, what Daddy and I did! I was fourteen and in those days, fourteen was a grown-up woman..." And Li'l Bit shared a Mary Jane joke:

"Little Mary Jane is walking through the woods, when all of a sudden this man who was hiding behind a tree jumps out, rips open Mary Jane's blouse, and plunges his hands on her breast. And Little Mary Jane just laughed and laughed because she knew her money was in her shoes."

In age-discrepant affairs, the hebephiles\ephebophiles are often accused by commoners of taking advantage of innocent nymphets; however, Aunt Mary blamed Li'l Bit.

"And I want to say this about my niece. She's a sly one, that one is. She knows exactly what she's doing; she's twisted Peck around her little finger and thinks it's all a big secret...Well. I'm counting the days until she goes away to school." 

The affair ended after Li'l Bit matriculated into a "fancy" college and Uncle Peck committed a seduction faux pas by becoming needy, not letting Li'l Bit advance the affair and showering her with unwanted gifts e.g., "You've only been away two days and it feels like months." "I'm sending you a tape cassette - it's a new model..." "A bouquet of roses." "A box of chocolates." "...here's a book in return: Liaisons Dangereuses."

Ultimately, Li'l Bit shared "...I got kicked out of that fancy school in 1970. Some say I got caught with a man in my room. Some say as a kid on scholarship I fooled around with a rich man's daughter [i.e., lipstick lesbianism]." And Uncle Peck succumbed to alcoholism. 

How I Learned to Drive premiered off-Broadway in 1997 at the Vineyard Theater and Vogel received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama the following year.  


A University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Lab! Theatre Production

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