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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wherein the Car Goes in a Ditch and I Swoon with Gratitude

A number of years ago, back when I was invincible, I felt it important that I drive from one tiny town to another during a blizzard.

What? I was going to have some beers with a friend!

Do they have blizzards where you are? They don’t? Blizzards are a combination of cold temperatures, snow pushed from one serpentine drift to another, and yet more snow coming down, sometimes horizontally.

Consider it a test of your fortitude, your driving skills, your imagination, and your intelligence.

Can you handle the stress of not seeing more than a couple feet in front of you?

Can you keep the car on the road?

Can you see the road? Can you see the exit?

What in the world are you doing out in a blizzard, anyway?

All of your abilities will be tested – some of them just by getting in the car in the first place.

Believe me when I tell you that the majority of the time there’s no where you need to go during a blizzard except to the closet for another blanket.

Or perhaps to the fridge.

But like I said: I used to be invincible.

I was invincible right up to two miles outside of town, when my ’74 Ford LTD, a car you and seven of your best friends could sit in easily, slid, ever so slowly, off the side of the road and sideways into a shallow ditch.

Hmmm.

Now, when you find yourself with your tail pipe in the snow, you also find yourself seeing the beauty in what you should’ve seen earlier and you turn everything off and sit in the cold, gray silence, considering the possibility that you may be mentally retarded and that those closest to you, for some reason, have been reluctant to say so; thinking about how the sun is setting and there’s a friend waiting just eight miles away.

This is sometimes the part in the story where you proceed to read of the writer’s slow and painful demise, how they found her body, the way her last words were recorded on the interior of the car in lipstick.

Either that or it’s the part where a large red pick-up comes down this same deserted county road and how four large, corn-fed Wisconsin boys in seed-and-feed caps pull over, jump out in jeans and sweatshirt and head towards your car.

“Ma’am?” says the biggest one, holding his arms out.

Yes, yes, please! I open my car door and hold my arms up for Farm Boy #1 and he lifts me, easily, out of the car and out of the ditch, and places me inside the cab of the truck.

My feet never even touched the ground.

He shuts the door, and Farm Boys One through Four step down into the ditch, each of them taking a corner of my car. They lift the LTD as if it is hollow, step carefully up the shallow ditch, and place the car back on the road.

And then they refused to take my money.

And I drove on to Paula’s house, where we drank beer, played Scrabble, and went out for breakfast in the morning.

I just love Wisconsin. If you’re going to slide off the road, I suggest you do it there.

13 comments:

KaLynn said...

I have driven in rain like that but never snow. It was scary enough in the rain, in the warm. I just can't imagine the snow. I grew up in NM where we had snow. I now live in TX where we have NO snow. Oh yeah, they will say, SNOW! and shut down the town for 1/2" that is gone in an hour and a half. Which makes me laugh. I just can't imagine what it is like to be in a blizzard. I'm guessin that you realized you are in invincible, which is good. I would have missed the story. I enjoy your posts.

Happy Thaksgiving!

lisleman said...

went off on a curve on hill with wet mud - car was caught by a small tree before it would have slide/tumbled down 50 ft or so.
I've been some blizzards but luckily never stuck in place I could not get back out of. You know MN has Paul Bunyon - he was a big guy.

happy T-day and leave room for dessert

Charlotte Ann said...

I slid off a mountain road, blizzard approaching, temps sliding to 64 below zero later that night. I "borrowed" a big snow plow, loaded my young daughter, my friend and her young child into it all the while friend screaming "they will lock us up for taking this". My reply "at least we won't freeze to death in jail".
I drove that snow plow with the huge blade into town and parked it in front of the police station. No jail time; later the truck was rescued from the slide it took. I'm alive to tell this story!

Jimmy Bastard said...

"corn-fed Wisconsin boys in seed-and-feed caps" For the love of god, I have visions in my mind of that filum 'Deliverance.'

Douglas said...

I got stuck in the sand at the beach once. Does that count?

I also drove to work one evening during a hurricane. That shouldn't count because I was not aware that it was an actual hurricane at the time. I only found out after I got to work.

Brian Miller said...

wow. what a tale...though they probably could not do much for the truck i wrapped around a light pole...something about a big hole in the engine...slowly filling with snow. smiles.

WrathofDawn said...

I hit black ice on the highway, doing about 80 kpm (equals about 50 mph) and wrapped the right rear quarter panel around a post. Fun times!

Do we have blizzards? 2001-2002 we had an accumulated 21 feet of snow on the ground. The next year... 20. We had a blizzard every Saturday for six Saturdays in a row in Jan-Feb. Those are exceptional years, though.

There was a time when I would have driven in a blizzard for beers with a friend, but now I'm old and cautious. And boring. But alive, so there's that.

Pop and Ice said...

“Ma’am?” says the biggest one, holding his arms out. My feet never even touched the ground.

I teared up right then. That's the kind of person I want to be.

Passion said...

Yep, mentally retaded all right...you didnt invite the boys along for a drink or two? Tisk tisk!
We dont have blizzards...in fact we dont have snow. Theres little enough rain actually...do dust storms count?
Pash. South central Australia

My name is PJ. said...

There is nothing like a blizzard to bring out the best in people...which is a good thing because people don't tend to be cured of invincibility until they're cured of youth and high energy.

I love a good rescue story...nameless, humble heroes make it even better!

ladyfi said...

Wow - those Wisconsin boys sound great!

CatLadyLarew said...

Amazing how sliding into a ditch always seems to happen in slow motion. Not necessarily a great way to pick up Wisconsin guys, though.

R. Jacob said...

two friends and I did move a vw super beetle from the street and place it up against the front door of a friend's house. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Another time, same car and friend, he was missing a jack and needed to change a tire so we held it up for him. I swear that beer was not involved at any time. I did like your brown hair in that online post.