When you grow up on a farm, you learn to do things at a younger age than most kids. You learn about life and death, sickness and the consequences of it and practical things like running tractors, fixing things, making fires, killing critters, shooting guns and driving cars or trucks.
I remember driving my Mom’s Ford Maverick down to the creek to bring blankets and food to my brothers and Mr. Wonderful. I thought they would probably die if they didn’t have enough blankets and stuff. It didn’t matter that I had a major crush on Mr. Wonderful - I had to save those boys lives!
By the time I was about 13, I could drive a car just fine. At about that age my parents moved us to the city. Well, that might be an overstatement - we moved to a town that had about 36,000 residents. My brothers were 3 and 4 years older than me so they were the local wildcats and you know what I did for them? When they got to swilling too much beer I became their chauffeur. I’d be hanging out with my girlfriends, roaming around the Gibson’s parking lot and a brother would cruise by and decide that it might be a good idea if I drove him and his friends around. I’d scoot the seat way up to the steering wheel and adjust the mirror and off we’d go.
I was a good driver. I had all kids of friends who’d employ my driving skills and this is where the story begins. I had a friend named Sylvia and her parents gave her a brand spankin’ new Chevy Z-28. It was one sweet ride, let me tall ya’. She would have me drive a whole gaggle of us around town all the time and everything was going fine until the night I hit a patch of ice.
I have to back up a little bit and let you know that at the time, I was grounded at home and got the bright idea to sneak out of the house shortly before midnight. Sylvia was waiting for me outside and I made my escape right into the driver’s seat of her car. We were having a good old time cruising around town and we even managed to pick up a couple of boys to share the good times with us. Things were going great and then disaster struck. I stopped at a stop sign and when I took off, I hit a patch of ice. I wasn’t experienced at driving on ice and in a moment of sheer stupidity, instead of taking my foot off the gas, I floored it. We swerved left to right and right to left and before we knew it, we were bouncing through someone’s yard, across their driveway and I plowed right into their detached garage! In 20 seconds or so, I managed to crash Sylvia’s car, a garage and the car inside of the garage!
Seeing as how it was the middle of the night, I did what any stupid 14 year old would do. I backed that beautiful, smashed Z-28 out of the crash site and sped my doomed hiney right on home! I then proceeded to call Mr. Wonderful who just happened to be a paint and auto body man, and beg him to fix the car in roughly 5 hours. He couldn’t.
Sylvia and I decided that she’d tell her parents that someone hit the car in the Gibson’s parking lot and that she didn’t have anything to do with it.
At 6 the next morning, I boarded a bus to go to a swim meet, thinking that I had avoided disaster for sure. You can imagine my surprise when I got home; the look on Mom’s face was enough to let me know that disaster had indeed happened. It seems that Sylvia’s parents didn’t fall for the lame story we had concocted and they got the truth out of her in about 15 seconds flat. They then proceeded to notify my mother of my crime and she proceeded to plan my punishment. When I stepped off of that school bus late in the day, I could tell from the look on Mom’s face that the jig was up. That day was the last time I knew freedom for about 6 months.
I’ll have you know that I have not had a ice related crash since that horrible night. Heck, I haven’t even had a crash for that matter. I had one tiny little bump into another car but it didn’t even damage the other person’s car and it wasn’t after midnight and I didn’t have any boys in the car. Oh yeah, I wasn’t driving a Z-28 either.