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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wherein The Car Goes Into A Ditch

Yesterday I spent two full shifts of waitresses at The Spring with Erin and Erin, a fine local establishment with a full bar.

This is a re-post.

I owe ya one. :-)

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

Don't look at me that way! 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 falling snow, colder-than-necessary temperatures, strong winds, and serpentine drifts that obscure the road.

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 built to carry you and seven of your best friends comfortably, slid, ever so slowly, off the side of the road, sideways, and down into a ditch.


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 in lipstick on the interior of the car.

Either that or it’s the part where a large red pick-up comes down this same deserted county road and how four large, meat-and-potatoes 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.


bruce said...

i know this is a repost and all but i gotta say people that have never drove in a blizzard are definitely missing out...
stupid stuff i see and hear
bruce johnson jadip

Ponita in Real Life said...

Oh yes. I live with blizzards every year. Those Wisconsin boys are a wonderful breed, aren't they?! So kind and big and strong! You, on the other hand, were slightly mentally retarded that day. Why on earth would you drive an LTD? Something with better ground clearance, 4 wheel drive and grippier tires would be more appropriate, don't you think, for those times when you want to traipse about in the snow to go for a beer???

Bossy Betty said...

Great, now I gotta put Wisconsin on my vacay schedule for some road-slidin' fun and aftercare.

Flea said...

I can barely drive in dry, sunny weather. We panic here when there are flurries, and ice makes us insane. On the upside, the kids love wandering the icy streets with my camera. NO DRIVING ON IT THOUGH.

I try not to drive when it drops below 32 degrees.

who said...

why pee dee? because one is too many and seventee and one is not going to be enough?

are and or were there so many LTD's out there back in those days that you feel there in reality there is and or was a real and true excess?

to the tune that sex as in to sex up any and all acquaintanships as well as sex down 9 blocks to the northwest?

of here?

and there?

and eitherwhere?

what is this if not some sort of trial by fire?

I can and will drive like I love everyone but that does not mean I will suct dict

Eva Gallant said...

I have driven in blizzards before. Now that I am older and wiser (and much more afraid!), I stay home. It's much less exciting, but safer.

Pearl said...

THe LTD was a fine and honorable automobile and given to me by my grandmother. :-) At the time, it was the best running car I'd ever had!

And yes, Eva, I too have noticed that the older I get the less time I find myself driving in blizzards (or jumping off cliffs or rappeling down the sides of buildings or riding without a helmet...)

Jhon Baker said...

Ah, living in Northern Illinois, I know these blizzards well and encounter them often. Once a friend and myself drove five hours in one to see a concert that was originally sold out but only 200 of us showed due to the blizzard. Great show. Another time while I was trading in an old bike for a new Harley, a blizzard had just finished and the roads were not perfect yet. On that trip I watched a SUV careen off the road in front of me while I held steady - looking cool and wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

Leenie said...

Love those big boys with the arms and the feed caps. The only reason I didn't need them was I was in a VeeDub Bug when I spun out. Landed in the median. When I could breathe again I put it in first gear and bombed my way back to the road. Another time it wasn't the feed cap boys, but a mom in a van full of kids that pushed me out of the drift. Love those memories.

Did this latest blizzard keep you from your two hour trip?

powdergirl said...

I'm starting to think that Minnesota is the sister state to the province of Manitoba!

lunamother said...

*exactly one of the gabazillion reasons I do NOT live in the Northlands anymore (even though when I did, it was, in fact, in Wisconsin...

The Retired One said...

Many years ago, I owned a tiny red YUGO..you know, the kind that got swept off the Mackinac Bridge to its demise..anyway...I did home health nursing then, and got stuck in a patient's driveway. Out comes his two strapping U.P. sons who literally lift my car out of the bank and onto the newly plowed driveway...without breaking a sweat.
It is a legend I still tell my grandkids. P.S. I sold my Yugo 2 weeks after the one went over the bridge....

becca said...

haven't seen a blizzard since i was 10 that was when my dad had the great idea to move to FL out of the snow. now i have hurricanes to worry about

Symdaddy said...

I've lost count of how many ditches I've been in!

Once or twice I even took my car in with me, but mostly it was just the bottle I was hugging.

Ah, those were the days!

Being 'sensible' was something I'd heard of but never actually tried until I was well into my thirties.

Let me tell you ... it doesn't always work!

I'm a very sensible (don't laugh) 51 year old and no longer have a bottle as a best friend, but that hasn't stopped me hitting a ditch or two. I managed to find one just last Friday!

Snow was falling and I turned a corner (very slowly) and slid in a very graceful manner into a drainage ditch at the side of the road.

A local farmer pulled me out ... after he'd finished laughing.

Roses said...

As we've got proper Winter weather over here, you post certainly resonated.

Excuse me, I've just got to risk getting to the kitchen to get another cup of tea and then go on to my couch. Damn, it's hard being snowed in.

Gaston Studio said...

Hadn't read this before so thoroughly enjoyed it Pearl. And I'm so glad those farm boys were not seriel killers.

Gaston Studio said...

Did I spell serial right? It's too damn early for me!