OPPONENT: Beer, Snow, Car, Unrequited Junior High Love.
AGE: High school?
VENUE: The winding lost winter roads of nowhere small town hillsides.
MEASUREMENTS: Let’s just call me an awkward teen. Let’s leave out the words: badly acned sometimes possibly psychotic arrogantly low self esteemed queen drama criminal cruel religion trauma tragedy family. Just leave them out entirely.
We better take this step by step.
On the plus side, it probably helped me quit Baptist Jesus. At twelve years old. On the down side, you know, beer. Since twelve years old.
Of this I am certain; people that don’t know snow are fucked. It’s like some sort of Peter Pan disease. Live through a Southern Californian quote unquote winter. And then take a quick study of the sixty-two year old with the boob job nose job face skin stapled under their pig tail hair pectoral implant viagra perma grin thing. It’s beyond the normal you feel forever seventeen with a bunch of life piled on.
The human soul needs snow. It needs to hit low. It needs density and friction. It needs a day when it eats four hotdogs. It needs to snap a pool stick over some dick’s shoulder because you missed the head. It needs to fall off barstools and ruin precious ancient things with unconscious bodily eruptions. It needs to bury itself under layers, and never again expect the sun.
I didn’t get a license until I was 26. I started driving at the end of grade school.
Sometime after midnight, when my exhausted single full time job mother was gone night gone. I would quietly push and roll her metallic blue boxy chic Honda Accord down our sloped gravel driveway. Hopping in at the last moment for a timely turn onto my tiny secluded neighborhood street. Once at the proper distance, where engine sounds weren’t unusual to sleeping ears, I’d ﬁre it up and round up my friends. An after hour tour bus of teen boredom. And we would drive. Fast, man.
The back roads of a small hill town are confessionals without priests. You talk to God. I hit a hundred on hundred yard straights. I two wheeled off cliff guard rails. I spun 720’s on dirt access roads going sixty miles per, with my best friend and I reversing the bass vocal properties of puberty. Loosing our open windowed cries to bounce off the surrounding trees and echo over lakes and sharp drop offs. Always surviving by the mercy of inches.
I was a fate favored Z list stuntman. I was learning the path to immortality was to only drive Japanese cars.
Unrequited Junior High Love:
Two words. Big boobs. Liked me. Kind of. For one. Short summer.
TRAINING: To repeat: drink and adventure since twelve. Well maybe since four, if you count sips off Dad’s driver side rum and Dr. Peppers. While winding our way to sweaty upstate auction houses, to bid on and win amongst other things: goats.
And farmers we were not, but academics. Dad a PHD with a quart of vodka in his briefcase. And I – sat in on his classes sometimes.
THE FIGHT: In the wind down of a particularly long sloppy too young to know what the hell party, I sweet talked my friends into letting me drive home with a borrowed car. Rather, a borrowed Japanese van. It was in the wee wee hours, and the storm that we didn’t know was coming had just started to peek over our particular hill.
As in any small town backwoods road labyrinth, there is always a way to get from point A to point Q without being seen by those who you don’t want to be seen by. Namely, anyone. But speciﬁcally, cops. So of course my course of choice, when gifted the freedom of not my car, and the empty early morning winter hill road. Was to veer miles out of way, to the bedroom window of a junior high love lost. Which was just adjacent to the bedroom window of her father. A state trooper.
Needless to say, my hurried passionate prose spilled over to the wrong ears. And was followed by the more hurried footsteps of an off duty state trooper, on duty father of a teenage girl. Which led to me and the Japanese chariot scooting away in the nick.
Now, as a ﬁfteen year old I was well versed in the art of running from cops. My particular vintage of crazy would peak in the late teens, but was maturing well much earlier. I had literally leapt from rooftop to rooftop to escape the consequences of immature small time criminal stupidity. I was obviously self raised by the quiet paged study of too much go it alone post modern anti-hero bull.
So a head start on a state trooper proved enough, with the assistance of an incalculable number of possible turns. I was speeding along an endless collection of S curves that rose and tumbled. I was stretching for a Beastie Boys cassette tape in the footwell passenger side, to soundtrack the drive home.
I was not noticing the increased density of snow revealed in the selections of void, lighthoused by headlights.
It is a strange thing that large things and fast things seem to crash slow. A fish tail slide on black ice, corrected too aggressively, brings the pavement to your window. The explosion of particles of glass and the perfect frame of your arm bouncing along an uneven surface. The quiet blur of objects borrowing the architecture of one another.
I woke to the sound of a cassette tape landing on the concrete by my face. I crawled out the top, once the side, of the Japanese van. The snowy road evidenced a perfectly straight path taken between tree lined curves.
THE AFTERMATH: In the days before cell phones, people knocked on each other’s doors. And so at four A.M. on a snowy Sunday morning, an older couple and their substitute teacher daughter opened their door. And helped a shock sobered teenager upright an automobile ﬂipped. With only a tool shed rope and clever engineering.
And let him use their home phone to confess his sins to the owners of said vehicle. And pat him kindly on the shoulder and offer warm coffee. Before he steered the bent Japanese van back the many miles to the origin point of the night. To happily accept a borrowed corner, for a post drunk concussed unconsciousness with no hint of dream.
But only after a lovely morning drive. With the silent sun over snowy vistas. A frozen breeze through a windowless window frame. And all accompanied by one kick ass soundtrack. Exclusively featuring the Boys, Beastie.