Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ta-Da! A kind of funny story that may be a little long.

The first time I heard the artist formerly known as John Cougar I was 12. That summer my parents had separated and my brothers and I were living with my mom in a new town. Carol was my age and lived two houses down from us. We were nothing alike; she had older brothers and sisters and knew about “stuff”. She was rebellious and daring, I was nervous and cautious. The biggest rule I’d ever broken was not returning a library book on time (I carried that guilt around for years).

Carol smoked in her bedroom with the window open, when her mom knocked on the locked door she would slide her ashtray under the bed and answer. Never once did her mom ask about the low visibility or the smell. Her house might as well have been the twilight zone as far as I was concerned. I’d never even considered locking my bedroom door. Why would I? While Carol’s older brother was teaching her how to refill liquor bottles with colored water I was still playing with Barbie dolls.

One afternoon we were sitting in the carport listening to a cassette one of us had made by pressing pause and record for 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon during Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 and Jack and Diane came on. Carol said, “It’s true you know, life does go on. My thrill of living has been gone for a while.”

Even my 12 year old self thought it was a bit much for another kid to say something like that but I was having a lot of fun with Carol so I shook it off, besides, considering how much catching up I figured I needed to do before Jr. High started I couldn’t really afford to ditch someone so well versed in both cool and angst.

When I slept over at her house we would wait for her parents to fall asleep, then we’d push the ashes out of the way and climb out her bedroom window so we could meet up with the other neighborhood delinquents. One night, when there was no obvious trouble for us to get into, Carol suggested we go for a drive. I think I must have figured that there was really no way two twelve year olds were going to get our hands on a car so I said sure.

“Okay,” Carol said, “We just need to push my mom’s car into the street. We can’t start it in the driveway, she might wake up.”

Right then I knew...A.) We really were going for a ride.... B.) My friend who was the size of a pixie, and possibly crazy, planned to be the driver..... C.) I was in way over my head. Later I would ask myself a hundred times why I didn’t just walk home (it was only TWO houses away) right then and there. The only answer I’ve ever come up with is- I was 12, duh!

We stealthily pushed the car into the street, Carol started it up and we headed out. We stopped quickly to grab our friend Brian, even though he was tall enough to see over the steering wheel he was also unlicensed, so, since it was her mom’s car, we decided (like morons) that little Carol might as well drive.

Had there been a lick of common sense or foresight between the 3 of us, in that moment we would have known that none of us would ever be a brain surgeon.

It was pretty late (or early depending on how you view 2 a.m.) so there wasn’t much traffic and we noticed right away when a car seemed to be following us. We weren’t really concerned until he turned on his lights and siren, which even a couple of stupid unlicensed 12 year olds like us knew was the universal signal for pull over you are about the be grounded for 3 years.

“Should I try to out run him?” Carol asked.

“Are you crazy? He could shoot us!”

“He can’t shoot us AND drive.”

“Pull OVER!!”

As the officer approached Carol’s window Brian debated making a break for it on foot. I may have mentioned that the officer was no longer driving and surely would be able to shoot him now. I had no intention of being left alone with Crazy Carol the Criminal.

Once the basics had been established and it was clear that we were not drunk, just stupid, Carol was asked to step out of the vehicle. I almost threw up listening to the conversation.

“Whose vehicle are you driving miss?”

“My mom’s.”

“And where is your mother this evening?”

“On the road.”

“On the road?”

“She drives a truck.”

Apparently Carol had seen Smokey and the Bandit a few too many times. I stopped listening and started praying. Eventually she must have told him the truth, or a least a more believable lie, and we were given the pleasure of a ride home in the backseat of his patrol car.

Carol’s mom started crying when she saw us. She told us we could have been killed and that we would not be allowed to play together anymore. The scene was pretty much repeated word for word when I broke the news to my mother the next day. They kept us apart for a couple of months and I’m pretty sure we were never allowed to sleepover at either house again, other than that things were back to normal by the time school started.

At the end of the school year Carol’s family moved out of state. We didn’t really keep in touch, but I still think of her when I hear Jack and Diane, which to be honest, isn’t all that often. I wish I could tell you that when Carol left I stopped doing stupid things, instead I pretty much spent the next 8 years trying to top one stupid thing with another even more stupider thing.

I was thinking about my stupid years today. Sometimes I think my kids do dumb stuff and I worry about that. But you know what? So far none of my kids even comes close to the idiot I was and I turned out okay. Mostly.


Karen said...

Oh my gosh this is hilarious. You rebel! It stirred up a lot of my own stories ... super stupid ones. Great post.

Ginger said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing this... I had a very similar friend at that same age and it eerily brought back some similar memories! ha ha Except I'm hearing Whitney Houston in my memory! :) Thanks for the laugh today... I really needed it.

lori.huffaker said...

Thaat abrings back the memory of babysitting at fourteen with my friend Bev at her aunts house and having her convince me that it was ok to PUT THE KIDS in the car and run to the store, which we promptly did.....sooooo dumb. I got more, ask me later....