The house I grew up in was about a half-mile drive off the highway. By “highway,” I mean a two-lane, back-water road between towns. And by “drive,” I mean a pot-hole-infested dirt road. The kind that no matter how many times my siblings and I were forced to fill the holes in with dirt and gravel, they would return with the very next rain.
It was a shared driveway that went on for another half mile beyond our abode and, if you want to get technical, extended another two or three miles beyond that through overgrown blackberry bushes. The latter portion was still passable with the right vehicle but was mostly used as a motorcycle trail to get to BLM roads.
My friend Craig had a similarly long driveway to his house. Though, now that I think about it, everyone did. His, though, was a bit more treacherous.
Green Behind the Wheel
If you’re headed from town to my place, the dirt drive off the highway was a nice “off-ramp.” Craig’s was more like a narrow dirt bridge traversing a canyon. Pulling off the highway and onto his driveway required extreme precision; otherwise, you’ll find yourself navigating out of the 10-foot drop on either side. As a sixteen-year-old kid, it was just the sort of challenge I was looking to avoid. Sort of.
At this point in my life, I owned a green Chevy Monza. It didn’t look like much, but with a V8 under the hood, it had guts. My first few times turning onto Craig’s driveway were perilous. Barely licensed and behind the wheel of a 2000 pound death machine, I was admittedly a bit shaky on this unfamiliar turf.
But that didn’t last long.
The Show-Off Must Go On
Now, I wasn’t one to show off, but when an opportunity for
stupidity danger came, I took it! One day, headed back to Craig’s house, we saw Super-Slow-Moe approaching his driveway in the opposite lane. The very lane I needed to cross. Behind Moe was a line of cars that would put the Great Wall of China to shame. I’m convinced that Craig and I might still, to this day, be waiting for our opportunity to turn if I didn’t act fast.
I had to take the chance. But would I make it?
Doubt crept in.
I approached from the east. Moe approached from the west.
I got closer. Moe got closer.
Then, my opportunity passed.
I floored it anyway.
The V8 engine shot forward.
“You’re not gonna make it,” Craig told me.
Famous last words, I thought.
Impossible Just means “I’m Possible”
I reached the drive and yanked the wheel. I snuck a peek at Moe as I crossed in front of him. I believe he was mouthing something to the effect of “Great job, kid, I couldn’t have done it better myself.” However, I’m sure his sentence contained a few more Fs.
I narrowly missed the Great Wall of Moe and landed safely onto The Cliff of Craig.
“Safe,” however, is just another word for “bored.”
With the adrenaline still pumping through my lead foot, I couldn’t help but hit the accelerator one more time. My tires spun, gravel flew, and my rear-end kicked out from behind me.
Normally, I was cool with a controlled fishtail, but today, the Cliff of Craig beckoned.
The drive was wide enough for a car pointed in the right direction. It was not, however, of sufficient width to handle the length of my car. As the tail end of my Monza tried to catch up to the front, I tried desperately to keep the car centered on the narrow path. But it was too late.
My rear tires flew over the edge, and began pulling the car with them.
I was having none of that!
I gunned the accelerator again.
Heroically, the tires grabbed and pushed the car up onto the road with ease.
And it kept pushing.
And pushed me right over the edge on the other side.
Down my car went into the Great Valley of Stupidity, and right up the Bank of I’m Busted where we were marooned.
And Craig didn’t think I’d make it.