The Ogre

Like most of you, on the day I turned sixteen I was at the license exam station taking my driving test. I was quite nervous because I had heard all the stories about the ogre who administered the test in Butler County. But he wasn’t so bad and I passed without harm.

The lady at the desk snapped my picture before giving me a chance to arrange my hair or smile. She printed my temporary license and handed it to me. I was a licensed driver! I walked away slowly, reading every word:

  • SEX F
  • HT 4-11
  • WT 95

I stopped. Restrictions? No way! I turned around and marched back to the lady at the desk. “What do the P and A after the word Restrictions mean?” I questioned.

She explained, “Because of your arm the examiner feels it would be best if you only drive a vehicle with power steering or a spinner knob. That’s what the P indicates. The A means automatic shift. He thinks you need that, too.”

I wasn’t happy. I could accept the P. Steering into tight spots without power steering was difficult with one arm. But the A…that one was not acceptable. My dad’s jeep was a stick shift and I knew I could drive it. My friend Donna had a stick shift and I drove it, too. No, this one was going to cramp me. My eyes searched the office for the ogre. There he was. I approached him and ever so sweetly but boldly asked, “If I can pass the driving test in a stick shift, will you remove this A from my license?”

He looked surprised. He thought for a moment and then replied, “Yes, young lady, I’m willing to consider that.”

I left the exam station and headed to Donna’s house to borrow her red Toyota. After a few practice runs around the block, I returned to the station to retake the test. The ogre almost smiled when he saw me coming. “That was fast!” he exclaimed. “Let’s see what you can do.”

I passed. The examiner removed the A. I decided he wasn’t such an ogre after all.

Everyone deals with restrictions in life. Some restrictions are P’s—justified and necessary for our own good or the good of others. Other restrictions are A’s—unjustified and imposed upon us by ogres. Here’s my advice: Graciously and respectfully accept the P’s, but fight with all you’ve got to get the A’s removed.


Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

Ninth Grade

Prissy Girls

I was in a pageant…once. I’m not sure why I entered. Maybe because it was something I hadn’t tried before and I like to try most everything once. So I was a contestant in the Junior Miss Pageant of Butler County, Ohio, in December of 1978.

Oh, my gosh. I hated it. I had never seen so many prissy girls in all my life. I don’t like prissy girls.

“Fitness” was a scoring category. We were judged on “physical stamina, agility, and flexibility.” They made us dance to “The Nutcracker.” I could dance just fine. Just not prissy dance, which was what they wanted us to do.

“Self-Expression” was another scoring category. We were judged on “poise, demeanor, and carriage.” In other words, how prissy we were. We had to wear a long, white, sleeveless dress while parading across the stage in front of the judges. I don’t do sleeveless. Sleeveless shows way too many cables, bolts, and straps on my prosthetic left arm. My mom and I contacted the pageant organizers and asked if I could possibly wear a dress with three-quarter length sleeves. They were understanding and allowed me the option. The prissy girls were not happy. They said it wasn’t fair, that it made me stand out from the other girls to the judges. I really don’t like prissy girls.

The remaining three categories were less painful. I topped the “Scholastics” category with a 4.0 GPA. For the “Talent” category I sang a Donna Fargo song called “United States of America.” The judges seemed to enjoy the only non-prissy performance in the pageant. And I held my own in the private “Interview” category.

Needless to say, I didn’t place in the pageant. I’m sure my joy of participating and my wonderful attitude toward the event shined like the Christmas tree on the stage. But I learned a few things from the experience. First, never enter another pageant. Second, never shake your hips really big when you walk. It looks stupid. And third, when you have a daughter of your own, never let her grow up to be a prissy girl.


“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I was Contestant #20.

I was Contestant #20.

Author’s Note: Here’s Donna Fargo singing “United States of America”-