My personal experience with Driver's Ed was a hellish nightmare, so stories about people's struggles to earn their driver's license always give me terrifying flashbacks. It can be tough for me to relate to Anna Nicole's more outlandish travails, but as with her fear of the dentist, in this episode I am fully able to feel her pain.
"I had a driver's license in Texas, but I don't have one in California," Anna Nicole explains. "And when you're in California, you really need a driver's license. So I'm determined to go get one." We've known for a long time that this particular adventure was in the works, since Anna Nicole previewed it in an E! News interview before the series started. She said there was going to be a contest between herself and Daniel to see who could get their driver's license first.
The episode opens with Kim and Howard quizzing Anna Nicole and Daniel with test questions from a California Drivers Test Made Easy book. This scene is the only indication that Daniel is also going for his license, and the rest of the show only deals with his mom's efforts. It's too bad the producers decided to drop that interesting "contest" angle, because I'd been looking forward to this episode as our one chance for some quality time with Daniel. I guess the problem was that he felt too embarrassed about being spotlighted in such a way, and we certainly have to respect his feelings.
When their study group can't decide on the best and easiest way to go through the test questions, Anna Nicole starts cursing and throwing the book around. This tantrum leads Kim to give her boss "a little bit of space," and she takes off on a rare solo exploit accompanied by Frankie the designer.
The odd couple make a visit to the tattoo parlor to get their Anna Nicole tattoos touched up. The signature that Kimmie got tattooed on her arm in Episode 3 is fading away, and Frankie is getting the breasts modified on his bicep portrait of a reclining Anna Nicole. Frankie feels obliged to apologize for having the tattoo, asserting that it's not a weird "Anna Nicole Smith thing," it's a "friend thing." Sure, Frankie. Whatever. The tattoo artist, "Lemonade," asks Frankie what he's doing today, and he replies with a chuckle, "This... [and] fighting with Bobby Trendy again."
Kim gets a call on her cell phone expecting it to be Bobby, but it's Howard telling them Bobby is pissed off because Frankie isn't there to meet him. Frankie throws a hissy fit, sucking on a lime lollipop, saying Bobby can kiss his ass. Kim and Frankie agree that Bobby needs to see what it's like to be the one left waiting around, for a change.
But we find Bobby in a remarkably pleasant frame of mind when he comes back to the house. Almost too pleasant. "I was determined to walk in there with a glossy smile on my face and make Anna Nicole happy," Bobby coos. "After all, she is my client, and when my clients are happy, I am happy. Cha-ching!"
Acting like he's downed a bottle of Prozac, Bobby repeatedly insists that he's in a good mood today and he's going to make Anna Nicole happy. Howard and Frankie start cracking up over his mantra of excessive positivity. Howard shows Bobby that the main problem he next to fix is the bare wooden rails around the base of Anna Nicole's bed. "Bobby made the side of the bed with wood and no padding," she says, "so every time I got out of my bed I bruised my butt and my legs and my knees all up." I can see how she would bang her legs and knees against that wooden surface getting in and out of bed, but her butt, too? I know she has a big ass, but I don't know how even her backside would have trouble clearing that low hurdle, unless she gets out of bed by rolling into the floor. Which maybe she does.
Bobby and Frankie actually seem far more concerned with the pillows than with the bed frame. Is anybody else about to get tired of all hassle over the damn pillows? I think I have nothing more to say about pillows on this show until something interesting happens involving them.
Seeing Bobby to the door, Howard finally breaks down and tells him what we've all been thinking since his first appearance: "You cannot be this ridiculous on a normal basis. You cannot get through life like that. You just can't." Bobby shrugs and says, "Well, I seem to and it's working." It strikes me that people might want to say exactly the same thing to Anna Nicole, and Bobby's response would be a fine one for her.
It also strikes me that I don't care much for Frankie. Bobby may have screwed some things up, but at least he's funny and interesting to watch. All Frankie does is bitch. I can't believe Frankie and Howard were giving Bobby a hard time for not wanting to work on Labor Day -- who the hell doesn't take Labor Day off? And then they were ridiculing his perceived lack of professional experience and training like a couple of high-school bullies ganging up on a defenseless nerd. Screw them. I know which decorator I'll be rooting for.
Now we return the star of our show and her valiant efforts to study for her license. A montage of shots show Anna Nicole grappling with her test book over time. At one point she succumbs to despair: "It's just not fair. No way I'll be able to do this f***ing thing. I quit." But she doesn't choose to give up yet.
"I studied that book, and I'm tired of studying that book," Anna Nicole announces. "So I'm going to take me a driver's test." Along with Howard and Sugar Pie, she visits the privately-owned California Driving School for a lesson behind the wheel. The best thing about this segment is Anna Nicole's pants. We've seen how much she loves leopard in home decor, and now we get to see her wearing some. Oh my God, these skintight leopard pants are so damn sexy, clinging to her voluminous hips and butt like a sausage casing. Mmmmm... the sight makes me want to do a Tarzan yell! Spectacularly hot. The end credits clip shows Anna Nicole in this outfit shaking her booty in stripper-style dances and humping Howard up against a wall. That son of a bitch lawyer doesn't know how lucky he is.
Anna Nicole is introduced to her instructor, a middle-aged Asian man named Simon. "Hi, nice to meet you," Simon says. "What an honor!" Howard informs Simon that Anna Nicole used to drive years ago and only needs a "refresher course." Then he asks with a grin if they have insurance.
Anna Nicole gets in the student car and finds her capacious frame cramped, so Simon has to help her put the seat back. She's still got Sugar Pie in her lap, and before they get started she passes the pooch over her shoulder to Howard in the back seat. Distracted by her conversation with Simon, she lets go too early and doesn't notice that she drops Sugar Pie like a bag of sand. Surprised, Howard quickly scoops the dog up and comforts her. Poor Sugar Pie didn't yelp or anything, so she probably didn't get hurt, fortunately. I just hope the ASPCA and PETA weren't tuning in tonight.
The student driver car is one of those with dual steering wheels and everything so the instructor can drive entirely by himself. The cars I had for Driver's Ed only had a brake pedal on the instructor's side, so I can only imagine how torturous and demeaning it would be to have that screaming teacher arbitrarily taking over the vehicle. Even though Simon knows Anna Nicole used to have a license, he treats her like she's never sat behind the wheel before. He refuses to let her drive until he can take the car to the suburbs. When he does let her take control, he's continually breathing down her neck about proper braking and keeping both hands on the wheel. It evidently took him no time to get over being awestruck by meeting this famous sex symbol and start treating her like dirt.
"Am I bad?" Anna Nicole asks timidly while stopped at a red light. "Ummm... at first, yeah," Simon says, sounding exactly like a stern tasting panelist on Iron Chef, "because you don't, ah... brake early enough, yeah." I'm sure she's not perfect, but she definitely seems to be handling these wheels more capably than she did during her rampage in the electric car in Vegas.
Reaching her boiling point, Anna Nicole declares that she needs to take a time-out and get something to eat. She pulls into a convenience store, anxious to relieve her stress with the comforts of junk food. Howard gets out of the car to discover that his foot's asleep. Simon suggests doing some jumping jacks to remedy it, and Howard feigns that he's forgotten how to do a jumping jack. obviously hoping to make Simon demonstrate for the cameras. And he gladly does. Simon says!
Anna Nicole emerges from the store clutching a bag of Doritos and a jug of NesQuik strawberry milk. We get a great view of the hot leopard pants while she stuffs her face with the fattening treats that have made those hips so thick and gorgeous. She and Howard discuss her wacky driving instructor.
"I don't think he knows how..." Howard says. "I mean, this is his first week doing this."
"He's driving for me!" Anna Nicole exclaims. "When I'm turning, he's turning. I take my hands off it, he's driving. I'm doing the brakes, he's doing it."
You have to wonder if the E! producers arranged for Anna Nicole to get the instructor who would be the funniest on camera. "A foreign guy with an accent who's only been teaching for a week? Perfect!"
And now, the moment of truth: the showdown at the DMV. When Anna Nicole fills out a form, we can see that she uses her legal name: Vickie L. Marshall. A clerk checks her driving record on a computer, and Howard jokes that they're pulling up her entire criminal record. Out of boredom while standing at a DMV counter, she starts making faces at the camera. Then a DMV officer catches her. "Oh! Not at you!" she says, turning red. "It was the camera there!" She takes an eye test and apparently does a fine job. At least her critics can no longer say she doesn't know her ABC's.
Then it's finally time for the dreaded written test. The DMV examiner hands out the test, explaining that it has 36 questions and you have to get 30 right to pass. This requirement elicits a grunt of displeasure from Anna Nicole. Howard decides to take the test as well, just to make it "more fun." Right off the bat, Anna Nicole runs into trouble at starts stressing out. "I think I studied the wrong book," she moans.
The way she and Howard are sitting facing each other across a small table, it looks like Anna Nicole could easily cheat off his paper. In fact, with her purse screening her test from the examiner, she points at one of the questions and looks at her attorney. Howard and the examiner both see what's going on and just laugh. But don't worry -- if she did cheat, she didn't do a good job of it, or Howard isn't up on the rules of the road.
The examiner scores her test with a meager 19 correct out of 36. Too bad. I was really pulling for my dim-witted darling, and it's like that time when Bart Simpson studied really hard but still failed his history test. But whereas Bart touchingly broke down in tears, Anna Nicole resorts to profanity: "F***, I told y'all I wasn't ready. Assh***s." Presumably, "y'all" here refers to Howard and Kimmie, and does not include the DMV. When the examiner asks if he should schedule her another appointment, she replies, "No. I'm just gonna come back when I'm ready. I'm not ready for driving."
But as usual, our unflappable heroine bounces back in the end. "So I failed the test, so what?" she says. "Doesn't mean I can't drive." Cut to the Speedzone go-cart track, where Anna Nicole is legally authorized to burn rubber. She and Kimmie slam into Howard and Daniel's go-cart, causing the boys to spin out. "This is too easy!" Anna Nicole shrieks in delight. We hear the gang voicing the inevitable complaints and excuses that arise in any vehicle-based amusement situation: "Our car sucks," "I didn't get the fast car," etc.
"At the end of the day, I figured out driving wasn't that important to me anyway." Call it sour grapes if you will, but I believe if I had a personal assistant and a lawyer on hand to chauffeur me wherever I wanted, I damn sure wouldn't care much about driving either.