I'm going to my high school class reunion this weekend, (yes, there was a time when I had class). To mark the occasion I thought I'd take a little stroll down Amnesia Lane and pull this story out of the dusty archives of my past life for your entertainment.
It was the spring of 1989, a completely different time in America. We were euphoric as the Berlin Wall was torn down and democracy erupted and was then crushed in Tienanmen Square.
Gasoline still cost less than a dollar a gallon despite Capt. Hazelwood dumping a bajillion gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. TV audiences were introduced to a comical animated family known as The Simpsons, and Milli Vanilli had lip-synced their way into our hearts with with Girl You Know It's True.
In Smallville, Kansas, that clear spring evening, we had just finished the formal dinner portion of our prom. Dressed to the nines in tuxes and gowns, we were making our way across town to the sock up in the school gymnasium. But first, nearly every kid in school hopped into a car for the traditional main street cruise.
I'd borrowed dad's car for the evening. My date, Samantha, was riding shotgun and our friend Andie was in the back seat. We were full of smiles and laughter and youth as we cruised the streets jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. Windows down, radio blasting, waiving and yelling at friends in passing cars as the cool spring air blew through our hair. There was only the now.
We'd completed a circuit of the Main Street cruise and pulled into the convenience store parking lot to do a U-turn and another lap.
The next few seconds were strange, because they seemed to happen in slow-motion and at hyper speed at the same time. I had been waiting for an opening in the heavy traffic to make the right-hand turn back onto Main. When I saw the opening I quickly accelerated into the street. At the same time some unknown traffic obstruction down the street caused a sudden domino affect of seven or eight cars breaking in quick succession.
The result was that the car in front of me hit the breaks just as I hit the accelerator. The result of that was severe front end damage to my dad's car -- so severe that it was undrivable.
So prom night, dressed up, cruising main, smashed up car -- my life had become a John Hughes movie.
It took an hour or so to get everything taken care of, make sure nobody's hurt, clear the street, call my parents, try to explain -- eventually I made my way with my best friend (shout out WT!) to the prom dance. I don't really remember much from the dance, except for the drama between Andie and Blane (it was good to see Blane stand up to his snobby friends, but sheesh, Andie has to make everything about her).
The PTA sponsored an after-prom party (strictly non-alcoholic, thank you very much) which I went to since I was now hitching a ride with my friend Cameron Frye and his date. It was a good enough time, snacks, dancing, movies and stuff.
But what sticks out are the door prizes. Every 20 minutes or so they would have a drawing for a door prize, a gift card for local restaurants for example -- one of my friend even won one of those cool newfangled Compact Disc players.
Well in a final ironic kick in the metaphorical crotch, my number was called for one of the door prizes. What did I win? I'm glad you asked.
It was a gift card for $50 worth of gas a the local convenience store.
tagged: prom night, car crash, ironic, High School, John Hughes, reunion, Hazelwood