Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Those Crazy Days of Elementary School

I had a short post over at Alex’s blog today where I firmly established I’m not crazy. Whew. Glad that matter is settled. Please go read if you haven’t already. I’m sure you’ll find my logic irrefutable.
I had intended to continue my thought over here, but after careful consideration, I’ve realized I have nothing else to say on the subject.  Instead, I’ll entertain you with a story from my childhood.

I moved a lot as a kid, I didn’t attend the same school for two years in a row until I was in 7th grade. During one memorable stint – 5th grade – I lived on a farm. That isn’t to say that I ever spent any time farming, just that I lived there. To be specific, we rented a plot of land, plopped a trailer down on it, and lived.

My mother happened to be the proud owner of one ’67 Chevy Impala. It was big, made out of solid steel and had a steering wheel that belonged on a battleship. Estimated weight, 3000 pounds.

My sister, a high school student, borrowed the car from her. A lot. During the afternoons when school was over my Mom would be at work and the car would be there, just waiting for someone to go take it. So, I decided to go for a spin. We were, after all, country people now, I’d better learn to fit in.

Who could resist? No one. It's impossible
I grabbed the keys, a telephone book, and decided to go for a ride.

Oh, the telephone book? I had to sit on it in order to see over the steering wheel.

It seemed so easy at first, just pull out onto the road and stay on my side of the yellow line (if the road had one) and don’t drive off of the road. Everything else would work itself out. It didn’t take me long to determine that being the only kid in the 5th grade that could drive pretty much made me the coolest kid in school, so I had to show off.

I went to visit friends, waved at the suckers that still had to use their bicycles to get around, and generally got lost of oohs and ahhhs from pretty much everyone. Kids at school were coming up to me and shaking their heads in awe. That’s the kid that drives.

The thing is though, it was scary as crap. I started going for joyrides when I had a chance for a while afterwards – but in the back of my mind, I knew I was riding a bull. It's one of those things that you experience when you're young. You know it's oh so wrong, yet, it's impossible to resist.

It wasn't like I starting doing this all the time, but I didn't just do it the one time, I did it and survived. The cool factor made me do it again, and again. So, after enough trips to start feeling pretty confident in my skills, I was driving in a neighborhood and a car pulls out opposite me, a group of my friends jump out from behind the car, all on their bicycles, and into my path. I was about to run them over.

Like anyone in a tense situation, my perception of time slowed down. I calmly decided that I couldn’t possibly avoid them by hitting the brake of the car. So instead I cut the wheel in the opposite direction and mashed the accelerator to the floor.

What was in the opposite direction? Oh, nothing much, a house for sure. Oh yes, one more thing. A tree. Approximate weight of tree… much less than 3000 pounds.

I jumped the curb and slung mud all over the place. I kept my foot planted to the floorboard though. That tree, I still remember that tree. I recall hitting it - and running the damn thing down.

It was still young, just small and soft enough that it would give when hit by all that kinetic energy. It gave. I killed a tree.

I, and the others that were in the car with me, looked around. I’ll tell you, it was almost worth it to see the look on those kids faces, the ones that were on their bicycles. They were stuck in open mouthed awe at the wanton destruction.  At my destruction.

It was only a moment, then it was gone. We got out of there as fast as we could, got home, acted like nothing happened and hoped that the police wouldn’t show up later. Never could figure out why no one ever did. There were tons of witnesses. One tore up yard, one dead tree, and a whole lot of people that knew who I was.

I learned my lesson though, learned it well. Kids should never, ever, be allowed, under any circumstances, to play in the street. Another kid might run them down with his car.

Happy Wednesday people.


Gail said...

Alex sent me...surely glad he did!

Rusty Webb said...

Thanks Gail, great to meet you.

Melissa Bradley said...

New follower from the Ninja Army. Great post! I love the 67 Impala, what an awesome muscle car. I wish I'd had a car to joyride with. On the south side of Chicago here, well, the only joyriding would have involved stealing a bus. ;)

Rogue Mutt said...

Pagel's blog is getting nostalgic about school too. Is this some kind of blogfest I'm missing out on again?

Charles Gramlich said...

Nice car, man. I'd have taken it too. We only had an old pickup and a gigantic Chevy Impala

vanyelmoon said...

I think I had too much fear of my parents. I would never have done that. Though my dad did drive a '49 Ford panel truck that I don't think I could have controlled even if I wanted to.

Michael Offutt said...

You should have told someone you murdered their tree.

M.J. Fifield said...

I just came from Alex's blog. I really enjoyed your post. I think most writers struggle with not knowing...

This was a great story. Thanks for sharing it!

RaShelle Workman said...

That's awesome, Rusty. I bet it was soooo worth it to see their faces. LOL. ;D

Cindy said...

What a timely post. There was just a story on the news about a nine year old girl driving a van for her drunken father.

It's a wonder it went on so long with your parents not knowing or did they? lol.

Andrew said...

"Another kid might run them down with his car."
That's awesome.
And I know what you mean about the lure of doing something you know is wrong, but it's so cool you can't stop. When I was a kid, I had this magnifying glass...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Tree killer!
That is an awesome story.

Ciara said...

That is a great story. I'm glad it was just a tree. When I worked at Disney World I hit a bunny rabbit. The next day I found my face plastered all over the underground with the words WANTED: Thumper Killer!

Rusty Webb said...

Melissa - Stealing a bus would but you firmly into legendary status. Still, you've probably made the right decision.

Rogue - Yeah, it's a secret one though. I figure, should I prematurely die or something, that I should leave something behind for the family to read, besides lists of my favorite science fiction authors.

Charles - Thank you, it's nice to get a little positive reinforcement.

Vany - I understand, I wouldn't have done it if it were my father's car. But he lived a few thousand miles away at the time.

Michael - no way.

MJ - Thanks for stopping by. Not knowing can be torture. And there is so much I don't know.

RaShelle - It was, it really was.

Cindy - Well, I do think kids can be really mature when they have to be. I did not have to be.

Andrew - I know, I can honestly see the allure of being the bad kid. I had some horrific science experiments myself, some I don't think I'll ever tell anyone about.

Alex - Thanks dude. You Rawk!

Ciara - Thanks a ton for stopping by. Yeah, I think you may have crossed a line there.

I kid. I kid.

Nancy said...

I love your fiction but man, those true stories are killers too (heh, heh).

Susan Gourley said...

Great story. Sometimes truth if funnier than fiction.

Danette said...

OMG. I went to school with kids like you and I always just thought, "those kids are crazy. They'll probably never make it to be old." (meaning 40+)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I was right...anyone recommended by Alex has to be good. Nice post, Rusty.

Rusty Webb said...

Nancy - Yeah, I generally don't share too many of them... Lou can top them all really.

Susan - Yeah, life's funny that way.

Danette - Well, I'm thinking if I got past 20, I could probably survive anything.

Patricia - Thanks a ton.

Munk said...

Great stuff Rusty.
We moved all the time as well (I'm sure I blogged about it somewhere) and we had an Impala too. Did yours have that cool single speaker in the middle of the backseat with the Impala logo in the center?
Loved that car (and loved your story).