November 23, 2011

My First Date

Today I was reminded about my very first date.  I think it was the overcast weather or a sighting of very old Ford Escort.  This is the story of that day.  TLDR version: stuff happened, I rolled with it, and I was lucky (but not that kind of lucky!)

The year is 1987 and I'm about to go on my very first date.  I'm 16 and I've had girlfriends before and been able to "go out" before, but those were family/group outings.  My parents steadfastly refused to let me "officially" date until I turned 16, which should be fine because I didn't get my driver's license until my 16th birthday anyway.

Getting my license is a story unto itself.  I wasn't going to be allowed to get my learner's permit and my license like normal kids.  The reasons as to why will always be shrouded in mystery.  Maybe my dad was just being a dick, maybe they were concerned for my safety.  If I had to venture a guess it would be because they didn't want to pay for higher insurance premiums having a teenage driver in the house.  I managed to get my learner's permit and my driver's license essentially because I got into trouble.  Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it?  My father was the mayor of our small town of 200ish and he received/passed-on complaints regarding those troublesome kids riding mopeds all around town.  My best friend had a moped and once he asked to try my bike so we switched rides.  I rode that moped for all of one block.  There was no showboating or stupidity, I just followed my friend down the street as he tried out my bike.  In small town America you can't get away with anything.  Someone complained to my father and he went through the roof.  Even though we weren't allowed to ride mopeds we had to get moped licenses just in case so we wouldn't be hooligans and breaking the law.  My father drove us to the next county over to get our licenses, but the kicker was that we had to have our learner's permits to get the license.

So now it is the fall semester of my Junior year of high school and I have a date with Paula.  I don't remember her last name anymore, but I'll never forget that night.  My folks decided I could borrow the old Ford Wagon Friday night, so Paula and I were going to do what everyone does on a Fall Friday night in small-town America: go to the high school football game.  We all go to school in Bloomfield, population 6,000, which is the seat of Davis County, population 9,000.  I lived in Pulaski, which was the second largest community (of nine) in Davis County.  It is a rural county and sure enough, Paula lives out in the middle of nowhere.  To save time, I decide to skip the long route which takes me almost to the opposite side of the county and then halfway back again.  Instead, I make a bee-line on old county roads, some of which are still dirt roads.  It starts raining and in the course of driving along one of these muddy tracks I blow a tire.

This is the first time I've ever been granted the use of the car for more than a quick trip into town and here I blow a tire?  While I've never changed a tire in my life, I know how to do it...or at least I thought I did.  Like far too many cars nowadays, the Ford Escort doesn't carry a full-sized spare, nor does it carry a decent jack or tire iron.  Trying to jack up the car on a muddy road, in the rain, using a wimpy scissors jack is not particularly fun...or safe.  The tire iron is rusty and sharp on one end.  Of course I know this because in the course of using it I cut my hand badly.  Not bad enough for stitches, but bad enough that it took a while to get the bleeding stopped.

I manage to get the spare on and get myself to Paula's house.  I'm somewhere between an hour and and ninety minutes late, wet, muddy and a bit bloody.  She's a bit upset about my tardiness, but she takes one look at my condition and cuts me some slack.  A quick trip to the bathroom and I'm decently respectable.....just wet.  We end up blowing off the game since we are late and who wants to sit and watch the game in the rain anyway.  I take her out for pizza and we have a good time despite the my initial problems.

Afterwards my parents are pissed that I "ruined" the car.  When my dad goes to get the tire repaired he discovers that the entire inside sidewall of the tire is blown out.  The tire is literally ripped in a giant circle on the inside surface.  There is no way that this was my fault and if it had happened at highway speeds....in the rain, with a new driver, the results could have been disastrous.  I'm cut a little slack.

To this day however whenever I get a "new" car I buy two things: a decent jack and a good tire iron.  If they don't fit in the car then they get a special box in the trunk.

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