one. driving. i knew this was going to be the case, which is why i put off getting my driver’s license until after i graduated from high school. i rode the bus all four years of high school, yall. i was not ashamed. do you know why? because it made sense to ride it. someone escorted me to and fro, someone with what i’m sure is a much better driving record than mine turned out to be. someone who didn’t charge me for the service. someone employed, ultimately, by my father. and if his people thought that driver was good enough, then by golly, i did, too. i didn’t have to spend money on gas. i didn’t have to spend money (or more to the point, my parents’ money) on wheels and all the costs that went with ensuring they rolled smoothly.
so i got my license and since then, i’ve wrecked six cars, most of them on multiple occasions…
the first car i drove was the chevrolet corsica my parents bought from a relative. that one is the only one to which i did not cause bodily injury. my younger brother totaled that one.
my parents replaced it with a dodge shadow. i know i’d wrecked it more than once, but the only time i can recall was a summer day during the first year of ownership. in the back of the neighborhood in which i reside, there’s a dip, and one of the gals i knew from school showed me that if you travel fast enough, you can jump it. i did so a few times. the last time, on this particular summer day, there was a nail in one of my tires. it popped the tire upon impact, and i did a number of three-sixties before smashing the car into some trees.
i kept that one alive for about four years and put nearly two hundred thousand miles on it before the transmission bought it, followed by a mechanic’s announcement that the car had a cracked head gasket.
we won’t talk about the number of speeding tickets i got in that thing. it was raspberry red, and i have a lead foot.
the next car was a green ford mustang. it was the first car i picked out for myself. my parents bought it for me. i wrecked it a bunch. the instances that come to mind are the time an old man in a white pickup cut across a parking lot, hit the front left bumper and then fucked up the entire driver’s side of the car and, since both airbags deployed, the entirety of the dash, too. the second accident i can recall happened within weeks, it seemed, of getting it out of the shop from that accident. the exchange of loop six ten and interstate ten, near memorial and the galleria in houston, sucks ASS. i rear-ended someone… because people like to change lanes at the last possible second, which makes people slam on their brakes because they’re following too closely, and i made the mistake of not paying attention. i make that mistake a lot. third one… i was driving one of the back roads late at night after the rain… too quickly. hydroplaned a bunch, landed in a ditch. i had the windows rolled down and got mud all inside the car. fourth… and this one put him down for the count… i was driving home from houston; it’d been raining and since hydroplaning scares the shit out me, i avoided the freeways whenever possible, which means i drove through the woodlands and took magnolia parkway (which was, at the time, a quiet little two-lane road with walls of pine trees on either side of it) to the frontage road of interstate forty-five. i’d passed my parents’ neighborhood (the one in which i’d wrecked the shadow… the one in which i now reside… but at the time i’d been living in an apartment not far from them). i crossed crighton road (my light was green). the driver of a white oldsmobile ran his red light, broadsided me and sent my car careening into a telephone pole. split the engine in half. i’ve a six-inch scar on my right arm from the airbag… from putting my hands up so as not to see the wreckage occur.
i got even more speeding tickets in that one.
next… a pontiac firebird. i was blinded by the setting sun as i left work and turned left into someone’s sport utility vehicle. that car died. i don’t even think i had it for a year. i don’t think i wrecked it any other times. but apparently, once is enough.
i replaced that one with a ford explorer sport track. i only remember one accident. i was asleep. a drunk driver hit it and four other cars. he knocked the bumpers off the others. i’d had that truck for six months. he knocked the bed off the frame, damaged every inch of the thing from the driver’s side passenger door all the way around to where the bed met the rear passenger’s door. it was in the shop for three months.
and then there’s the acura rsx. my favorite. i managed to keep that one alive for almost a decade. miraculously. i’d managed to not get into an accident for eighteen months before the first one. i was turning left from a right lane, which i could do. the woman in the left lane went straight. it took several months to get him fixed because she’d been drinking, my phone was dead and she wouldn’t call the cops to report the accident, so i had to wait for her insurance company to assign fault, and that took a VERY long time. within a few months of getting it back, i failed to yield the right of way at a stop sign late at night and drove into someone’s sedan. i’d hydroplaned in it a couple of times, once on the interstate and amazingly enough i didn’t hit anyone. i did hit the guardrail, which sent me back out onto the highway. it bought it on a sunny day in october three years ago. the southbound freeway was closed, so everyone was having to use magnolia parkway (which is now a four-lane, congested piece of shit). the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes, i slammed on mine, and the bitch in the toyota minivan shoved me into his car.
then there’s the nissan altima, which as of about three p.m. today, has been parked in the recently-constructed median on a major highway not far from my home. i forgot it was there and was turning left (do you see a pattern here?). drove right over the curb separating the concrete from the tall, swampy, newly-planted grass. i’m pretty sure that car’s dead. i can tell you with certainty the rear bumper’s no longer attached.
interestingly enough, i’ve not gotten a speeding ticket since october of two thousand four. that last one… i was traveling sixty-five miles per hour in a forty-five. i’ve since discovered cruise control.
also i’ve become much more careful about keeping safe following distances. yall should, too. now if i could just get the hang of turning left.
two. dating. speaking to attractive men, in general. those horror stories are generally not nearly as entertaining. i’ll spare you their details. well except for one:
there was this guy who was studying for his mcat. he’d spend hours in the cafe at the bookstore where i worked. after he took it we didn’t see him as much. he came in during the christmas season; he’d not been wearing his usual attire of a baseball cap and polo. i’d been talking with a customer as we rode the escalator to the second floor. he got on after us and said hi to me. i didn’t recognize him at first, but then just before we reached the top, it clicked. i managed to say hi back. i’d forgotten the name of the book the customer wanted. she was an older woman. i grinned at her and apologized, saying how cute boys distract me. she laughed.
if you wanna read about the kind of guys with whom i have tangled, there’s this.
six. cooking. something that takes my mother twenty minutes to make takes me two hours.
seven. sounding like a texan. i don’t have a twang. i’m not even sure i could fake a good one. i’d be interviewing people for work, and they’d ask me where i’m from. here, i’d say. born in texas city. can’t get much more texan than that… unless it was lukenbach, maybe.
eight. dieting. yall’d say this goes with taking care of myself, probably. but… i’m sitting here munching on string cheese and sipping my third soda of the day (it’s canada dry ginger ale, though… so at least it’s not caffeinated).
nine. email correspondence. have you left a comment on a pickypost? i love you for it. i read it. i will respond to it… eventually. (of the things, this is the one that makes me feel most like a despicable person.)
ten. following through with things. like finishing the fucking novel i started two decades ago. (this is the one that should make me feel like a despicable person, but oddly enough doesn’t. i’ll get around to it… eventually.)