I can honestly say that I am not a lover of cars. Maybe this is because as a rule cars come and go from my life fast. It all started on the day I turned sixteen and received my driver’s license. I asked if I could borrow the family car that night. I emphasized that unlike some irresponsible new drivers who sped around town to reveal that they had finally received their licenses, I was going to a tent revival for teens led by E. J. Daniels, a fiery evangelist preaching a series on sex that made everyone swear to remain virgins for eternity. Of course most of us were subconsciously planning to break that pledge right there in the tent as we looked at the wonderful various options life had for us. My parents succumbed to my sexual purity and allowed me to have the car. I took great care as I drove to the event. My friends who were with me teased me about how slow I was going. Arriving at the event the flashlight men were there to direct me to my parking space. I was to park right by the big neon sign on a trailer with a hitch. It announced proudly the ongoing revival. It was big and unmovable; I know this because in this big empty field except for this sign, I hit it. Not hard mind you, but it left a sizable scrape on the side of the car. This would be the beginning of my driving career.
This auspicious beginning would be the first of several events in my life. I later, while allowing my friend to drive around town in my family car as I made out in the backseat of the wagon, heard a slow scraping sound on the side of the car. I immediately popped up and yelled stop to my friend of the slow reflexes. He had driven between a telephone pole and its guide wire. He had not noticed or heard the guide wire scraping the side of the car. No, it was me in the back of the car, preoccupied, who first heard the sound. The scrape started from the first fender to a little past the back door; the guide wire had come loose at that point and I had yelled stop several times by then. The scrape was not the only problem; I was not allowed to permit anyone else to drive. So now I had to lie to the police that I was driving and to my father likewise. My father looked skeptical as I weaved a long and sordid tale of how this could happen before he told me my friend had called and confessed to the whole thing. It would be to my detriment that all my friends were scared of and at the same time liked my father. Dad forgave my friend who has probably forgotten the whole incident and since I am telling you this story, you may conclude I was not so easily forgiven.
Another time I drove the van on a cross state youth church choir trip. I was not singing in the choir because after the director heard me sing (and this is true) he asked me to mouth the words. After that I saw no real reason to be in the choir, which politically caused a problem for the director of the choir. I was the All-American youth--excelled at sports and was in the National Honor Society. Also my father was a deacon and my mother was a Sunday School teacher of a large class and I was dating, part-time, his daughter. The Director decided that it would behoove me to drive the van and follow the bus around on the trip. I thought this was cool because while all the others were stuck on the bus I, Mr. important Guy, drove in a separate vehicle where one of my friends and I cranked up the radio and sang all we damn well pleased along with it.
The problem was the van started overheating after we had been to our first destination. Every stop I had to put antifreeze and water in to try to keep it cool. This was not that cool but again it made me look mature as I opened the hood of the van and pretended I knew what I was doing. The girls, at least in my mind, had to be awed by this. But the van finally tired of my constant attention and struck back. It was running extremely hot and we had to pull over at a service station. Smoke was coming out from under the hood. I looked confidently at the bus riders as if to say “do not worry I have this under control”. I popped the hood and reached for the radiator cap. It was hot and burning my hand but realizing all eyes from the bus were on me, I ignored the pain and turned the cap. The radiator turned into a volcano spewing out hot liquid lava (water) all over me. I proceeded to run amok in the parking lot disrobing because the drenched with lava (water) tee shirt and shorts were holding the hot water against my body burning me. Finally I came to rest in front of the bus with my shorts and shirt pulled off, my torso, legs, and arms with minor burns dispersed over them. I was basically okay because I had disrobed in record time and providentially had not felt the full brunt of the explosion of water.
As the adults gathered around me to assess the damage and were relieved that with a little burn salve I would survive pretty much unscathed, the Director looked at me and reminded me that I had no clothes (except my trusty boxers) on. I suddenly felt a new burn of red across my face as I looked at the bus and saw everyone; now that they knew I was okay, they begin to giggle and point. My coolness had been burned away.
The next days were filled with comments of my boxer short choices and how the various females on the trip could no longer hold themselves back from my manly screams and erratic running amok in the parking lot of the service station. Some would mockingly comment on how they would never be as confident as I was to disrobe on a choir trip in public. Atta boy they would say to me. The worst part was the choir geeks were having a field day with my mishap and my chief sports rival was very pleased with the unfortunate series of events that had besieged me.
This was only the beginning of my checkered history with cars. Later years my car would be mugged, I would roll two cars, and have many other mishaps. The events of me and cars, if told in full, would fill the pages of a Tolstoy novel. But luckily I will only fill one or two more blog pages with the Revenge of the Cars or maybe after Stephen Spielberg’s movie My ‘Duel’ with Cars or maybe after Stephen King’s novel Christine and Me.