Tuesday, May 10, 2022


Before I got to borrow my stepdad's Cadillacs, he got me a 55 Chevy to drive. It went 102 mph in a quarter-mile, and carted around a record number of high-energy high-schoolers. My most frequent and reliable passenger was my sister-cousin Carol Dick [Jansen]; we would make endless rounds from her house to a private swimming lake, to the local pizza hangout, friends houses, up and down Douglas Ave in the parade of bored kids driving on cheap gas, out to the horses, and often back to my house in time for my12 o'clock curfew--which was in effect up to the night before my first wedding. Stone Age, don'cha know, decades before cell phones.

And then there were some stops not on the published map--such as the LoBar, where Carol was legally legal for 3.2 beer, and I was "legal" because I folded the left side of my paper driver's license to hide the one on my December birthdate, aging a quick 10 months. And then there was that fateful covert drive to see my boyfriend John Carmichael--from whom I'd been grounded. Heading back home in high spirits along a dark country road, I missed a stop sign and almost collided with the car that had the right-of way--a family with little kids in pjs returning from an ice cream run. They managed to swerve and get stopped on the road while Carol and I skidded 90 degrees into a ditch.

Remember in my last post when I put Dad's Cadillac into the ditch the hubcaps popped off, leaving us frantically searching for a missing fourth? In this new ditch, I'm still gripping the steering wheel but have slid nearly into Carol's lap, and I say, "Quick, get out and check the hubcaps. If they're all there, we're good."

They were in fact all accounted for. Oh, and by the way, nobody was injured. Brief happy dance. What I hadn't accounted for, however, was the smashed in right rear fender that kept the wheel--hubcap and all--from turning. 

Back home, sitting at the kitchen table with my parents, I explained how I'd ended up in a ditch because the stop sign was so hard to see at night and I'd ended up with a bit of a bunged up rear fender that had to be pulled back out before we could drive home. But everyone was fine and the car was sorta fine--so all's well that ends well, ta da! Boom. Mic drop. Deep breath.

"So tell me again," Dad says, with the beginning of that Cheshire Cat grin forming, "about when you got to the nearest house to phone for help." 

I knew that expression well--an invitation to tell the whole truth and nothing but. I was pretty sure there was no way he could have known, but I decided to admit I'd been on the road home from Johnny's house and had phoned him to come rescue us with a chain and crowbar.

Dad nodded and said, "That's pretty much what we figured," and then pointed at the huge mirror hanging on the wall behind me. "You've got oily fingerprints on the back of your white shirt. I didn't think they were from Triple A."

I'm not sure what the moral to this story should be. Any suggestions? Remember to make a nice day.



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