Photo courtesy of Bing, Creative Commons. This poor guy looks a little anxious. 😦 Okay, no animals were harmed in today’s story. In fact, the white rabbit was not an animal, but a car. It was the first car I was allowed to drive on my own. Yes, I know, it sounds very Alice in Wonderland-ish, and maybe that’s actually fitting. Too bad I don’t have a picture of that car. The white rabbit, however, did not like donuts at all, and rebelled in kind. Read on for the story of a lesson I learned the hard way at age 17, in my second Monday installment of “Stupid %&$t I Did When I Was Young.”
It was 1985. Billy Idol played on my radio and in my cassette player almost non-stop. I had a job. That was great, even though it was in a fast food restaurant. Even though I sometimes worked pretty late on weekend nights. I had a car that could get me there, since Mom had just bought a newer car for herself. The white rabbit was a Volkswagen Rabbit, and I know it had potential. I just didn’t know what to do with it.
His name was *Jaxx. (Or maybe it wasn’t. :)) He was different. Outspoken, unafraid, with long hair and tall as an oak tree, no lie. I was different, too. Quiet. Somber, would sit in a corner alone if I didn’t know anyone, and half the time, I’d have my head down too unless I was in a class with some of my friends. Honest, I didn’t die my hair black, though many probably expected me to. This was 11th grade, and I had some interesting friends, quite an assortment. One of them was really into getting into every rock concert or going to see every new band she could. I went with her many times. Through her, I met Jaxx. He didn’t have a car; I did. But what he did have, was a fake i.d. Imagine what a valuable piece of plastic that was to us! I would gladly drive him places. Well, some of my other friends wanted to go, and they’d bring boyfriends. Inevitably, I let him drive my car because I’d get, you know, too tired to drive. Sometimes they’d meet me up at the *Jack in the Box (Name changed to protect the innocent restaurant chain) and get something through the drive-through, then wait in the parking lot until I got off. I don’t think I got much sleep back then.
We’d go off to the drive-in movies or out driving. When I let Jaxx drive, he usually drove like a crazy man. Hey, it was a five speed! One night, a bunch of them wanted to try and do donuts, round repeated spins at high speed, in the car. I think it was just my car, well, someone had a Pinto, maybe it was subjected to donuts, too. I don’t know; it gets hazy. So, yeah, they were doing that and I was just laughing with everyone else, in a lackadaisical, anything goes spirit. Why worry? Why question it? Who does that when they’re 17 and having fun anyhow? Oh, I sure needed to learn a lesson.
We were out so late this one night, I just knew I’d be in serious trouble. Jaxx said, “Man, I stay in trouble. I’d just like to run off.”
And I said something like, “Yeah. I should do that. I’m tired of my mom’s strict rules. I’m tired of school.”
Well, everyone else had to go home to avoid grounding, I guess, but he and I didn’t want to go home. We decided we would just run off. Now, I’m sure my car sounded bad, but for some reason I don’t remember specifics. However, it got us to an IHOP on the other side of town, Westside, I think.
We sat there eating something cheap, and I was drinking coffee, thinking what am I doing here. Looking at the night shift waitress thinking, will I need a job like that to feed myself? What were we thinking? Are Jaxx and I gonna live together? Could we even stand each other? Mind you, we weren’t actually dating and he’d never kissed me. He had a fake i.d.and devil may care attitude. I had a car, and an easy-going attitude. Meaning, I didn’t really look out for myself. I had to learn that lesson the hard way.
I looked at him, and he looked at me, and one of us, I’m not sure who, said, “This was not a good idea.” What a relief.
“Yeah, I guess I’ll have to face grounding. I’m tired,” I said.
“You look tired,” he agreed. Actually, I think he said something much meaner. See what I mean? All this guy had going for him was a fake i.d. So glad I came to my senses.
Of course, I got grounded. Of course, something was wrong with the car. It got me home, but it didn’t start the next day. I asked one of my friends who had been there to tell me what happened to it. She told me, “Jeff says Jaxx knocked the engine off the engine block.” Great. If I would’ve just told him to get out of my car, if I would have just taken care of my car, what a frustration. I hadn’t. I didn’t look out for myself, either.
I don’t know if Jaxx had already been a dropout, or if it happened soon after, or if I just didn’t have the guts to tell him he caused that damage to the car and owed me for repairs. Summer was just a month or two away, anyhow. The car sat in our driveway for months until Mom got someone to buy it for dirt cheap. That was part of my punishment, losing the car. I knew I deserved it. She had been rife with worry that whole night that I was out until 4 or 5 a.m. I can sympathize with her now, looking back.
I got rides to work, rides home, waited around so Mom could drop me off before work. I worked, and save $700 for some kind of used Plymouth that did its own donuts on the side of the road when it was rainy out. Guess I’m lucky I lived. That car liked donuts. :p We won’t go too far into how I felt, sitting at the side of the road, heart racing. God, it was a close call. Considering it once happened on a highway, I must have had someone looking out for me.
It seems like I straightened up in Senior year, realizing my love for Literature, and that I could actually go to college, just had to choose carefully which classes I chose to sleep in. I kept working, got a better part-time job, still driving that rusty Plymouth, but I was able to get some work done on it. It became less dangerous to me, thank God! My outlook on life was a lot lighter, brighter. Maybe I was more determined. My dad was going to pay my first two years of tuition if I paid for books. So, I did go on to get my college degree, working and paying for the rest of it myself. After all, you learn a lot more when you pay for what you get. A tough lesson, an education. And don’t subject the white rabbit to donuts, or so-called friends who insist on donuts!
*Some names have been changed to avoid dredging up the past. Well, it is prominent in my memory right now, it being summer time, but I would like to have certain people remain just that, a memory. 🙂