I was always kind of embarrassed that my parents drove a Buick Century. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think I had this idea that it was an old persons car. Another reason may be that I went to school with rich kids so I guess I was kind of jealous their parents bought them Jaguars, BMWs, & Mercedes to make up for the neglective parenting they had given them in their younger years.
The car was a beast. We had a four car driveway made just so we could have that one car in it. We were a family of four, but if we had to pick up another family of four we would have no problem fitting them in there.
Listen, the car was big.
Once I turned 16, and had my learners permit, I got to drive the great champagne colored behemoth. And let me tell you something, it was an ABSOLUTE FUCKING delight. I love it from the second I sat in that drivers seat. The lumbar support, the smooth fabric they used to cover the seats, the city bus driver sized steering wheel, the car drove like a dream, even if it did take 20 minutes to get us up an incline steeper than 8 degrees. Plus it didn’t hurt driving an “old person’s car” because cops never thought a kid would be driving it.
The car represented freedom to me. I could do whatever I wanted. Go wherever I wanted. Hang out with whoever I wanted. And when it came to the ladies – OH YEAHHHHHHH – it didn’t help at all.
“Honey, grandpa’s here! Oh, wait, that’s a young dude. That’s your DATE?!?!? I can tell him you’re sick.”
Since I grew up in a town where there was only one or two house parties on the weekends I would inevitably see my date there.
“So I see you are feeling better.”
“Yeah, but not so great right now. Can I get a ride home?”
“You’re going to use me for a ride now, even after you embarrassed me like that?”
“If you give me a ride I’ll give you a surprise.” A wink would usually follow.
“Okay!” I would say eagerly, “I’ll give you a ride! What’s this surprise.”
“All my drunk and obnoxious friends who will probably throw up inside your car need rides too! SURPRISE!!!!!”
In moments like these I knew I had to hold my own. Stand up for myself. Tell the “good guy” in me to step aside so I could give them a piece of my mind.
And I would do just that after I dropped them all off at their houses or – and this was more common – drop them off at their boyfriend’s house.
Inside the car I turned into a maniac. I would tell people off. Use words that when I was a kid I would get my mouth washed out for. Pound on the steering wheel. Cry. Scream at the top of my lungs “WHAT’S GOING ON?!”
Outside the car, and to the delight of other drivers, they assumed they were being treated to a lip syncing contest where I was the only entrant.
If we can distort reality for a moment – because this wasn’t in the past two years – most of the drivers must’ve assumed I was listening to “Fuck You” by Ceelo.
The Buick, as it turns out, WAS NOT indestructible as I learned on one fateful night.
My parents trusted me with the car and I had all intentions of keeping that trust in place. I was an extremely careful driver who took great pride in keeping the car in one piece as I’m pretty sure it was the only reason I had friends. Also, Taco Bell drive-thru was open late night.
The fateful night started like any other one. I was allowed access to the car so I could go to my friends house and off I went to venture into the night as free as a bird who happened to have a curfew of midnight.
My two friends and I were sitting around waiting for people to arrive at the party he was throwing that night when I received a call from another friend asking me to pick him up. I was young, I had a car, and, most importantly, I was bored as hell just sitting around.
My friend Matt joined me as we took the five minute drive to my friend Noah’s house to pick him up and a last minute passenger who was added to the manifest, his brother.
His brother plays a crucial, yet completely innocent, role in the events that transpired.
All parties enter the car and we are ready to embark on a night full of mostly sitting around watching me try and chug two-liter bottles of Diet Coke.
Once all arms and legs are in the car – who needs seat belts? – I threw the car into reverse and then all I could hear was screaming for me to stop. I completely panicked and kept going backwards until the gravity of the situation finally hit me.
“My parents are going to kill me,” was all I could think in that moment.
In my effort to be a gracious driver I parked my car about five feet in front of a large telephone pole so the person getting into the backseat could have easier access.
As it ultimately turns out the screaming was because the door was still wide open when I started to back up. When I hit the pole it was then opened wider. While car doors MAYBE get to a 70 degree angle when fully opened, the door on the Buick was now at a very impressive 110.
I had one of those moments from the movies where the driver stands on the side of the road with his hands on his head because the car overheated, but instead of having my hands on my head they were over my eyes as I was trying to cover-up the fact that I was crying.
Many attempts took place to get the door back to it’s preferred state of closed, however we couldn’t get it to fully latch. The brilliant idea at this point was to bring the car back home to my parents with my friends brother holding it closed from the inside as we drove.
I don’t remember if I called my parents and asked them to pack me a bag so I could run away or not, but my mom was waiting for my arrival on my front lawn.
I could read the word “disappointment” across her face – my mom had quite the tattoo collection – and I knew I would be in trouble. My mom then told me to leave and she would handle my father who must’ve been pretty upset with me because generally he would’ve been outside waiting to talk to me about something like this.
So I left for the night and went back to my friends house. I arrived home with this odd feeling in the pit of my stomach – sometimes late night Taco Bell is a bad idea – where I just knew how badly I was going to be beaten…vocally.
I took a deep breath, walked in the house, and prepared myself for an onslaught of life lessons, punishments that were never fully vetted out – you can’t ground someone for life, unless you’re a judge – and never being allowed to drive again effectively becoming a slave to the public transit system.
Turns out my parents had a discussion before I got home and, in my opinion, I got off easy. It was tough to hear they were disappointed in me, but luckily having a pretty clean history meant that a mistake was seen as just that. I was eventually given access to the car again, I just wasn’t allowed to have passengers in the backseat, unless they entered through the drivers side.