My mother used to tell me that I never looked where I was going. She was right. I still don’t. I have been known to trip over my own two feet. I have fallen in holes and ended up with bruises from bumping into furniture that hasn’t moved in 43 years. That is what my story is about today. No not furniture but my clumsiness or inattention.
“Hey Wanda!” I waved and called to my best friend as I stepped out of the car and headed toward Flossie’s new little Japanese import. The gang was all together all of ‘the six’. We met every morning in the parking lot before class to get a run down on the evening before and talk about the day ahead. This was a time before cell phones and texting, tweeting was something that birds did and Facebook was a photo album. Our communications consisted of passing notes in class and chatting over burritos at lunch.
We sat in Flossie’s car for few minutes singing along with Captain and Tennile on the radio. We gathered our homework, fluffed our hair and grabbed our books and headed across the street for class. It was a beautiful spring morning near the end of our sophomore year in high school. The six of us had been friends since seventh grade. We met in P.E. class. We were the outcast. We were not athletic nor were we popular. Not a single one of us could last more than 30 seconds in the bent arm hang. We would huddle together walking through the crowded halls or in the corner of the girl’s dressing room in hopes that the mean girls would either be intimidated by our shear number or not notice us at all.
I stepped off the curb and walked toward the middle of the street. My notebook and school books where suddenly flying through the air in slow motion. I was spinning, spinning, spinning. I felt as if the world was in slow motion and I was weighed down with something very heavy. It wasn’t until I was flat on my back with the tire next to my head did I hear the screams of my best friend. I looked around wondering why she was screaming but all I could see was the underside of a Buick. One minute I’m singing David Allan Coe “You don’t have to call me darling, darling…” and the next I’m in the middle of the street under a Buick station wagon.
The police arrived just about the time I headed toward the schools administration building. The officer grabbed me and made me sit down on the curb. I looked around and saw my fellow classmates and friends starring at me. Then I saw her. She was standing next to the man in the station wagon. She was pointing at me and saying something to station wagon man. She was the head mean girl of our school. She was cheerleader material, she was a track star, she could do to the bent arm hang for 30 minutes and not bat an eye. She could do all of these things and looked like Ali MacGraw, you know that chick that dies in Love Story. Oh come on you know “love means never having to say you’re sorry…” yeah that one. Why would she be talking to Mr. Station Wagon?
Mr. Station Wagon and Ali MacMeangirl come walking towards me. Ali sat on the curb next to me and cried “oh my GAWD! Are you okay? I am so sorry my dad hit you with our station wagon. I never liked that car. I mean could it be any less groovy?” My eyes opened wide, my jaw hit the sidewalk and I gulped air. My mind was trying to process this information. I had been hit by a car. I had been hit by not just any car but a ginormous Buick station wagon. I had been hit by a ginormous Buick station wagon driven by a man who was afraid of my hair. I had been hit by a ginormous Buick station wagon driven by a man who was afraid of my hair and was the father of Ali MacMeangirl who made fun of my gigantic mass of frizzy hair on a daily basis in P.E. class while she was doing the bent arm hang and telling us that love means never having to say your sorry. I guess she didn’t love me because he she sat with her arm around me telling me she was sorry.
I knew one of two things was going to happen. I was either going to now be friends with Ali MacMeangirl because Mr. StationWagon was going to make her befriend me in lieu of being sued. Or, she would be relentless about me not only sucking at the bent arm hang but about my inability to walk across the street without getting hit by a car. Either way was excruciating to think about. My head was really starting to pound and I just wanted to go hide in a hole. The crowd was getting thicker by the minute and I could hear what they were saying. “I think her hair got in his way and he couldn’t see. It descended upon him like a fog.” Then from somewhere else in the crowd I heard “well if she could do the bent arm hang for more than an eighteenth of a second she could have avoided his car” I think that came from Pug Paris our gym teacher. Booming across the crowd I heard it. It was the worst statement of them all “well of course she got hit by a car. She is always going where she is looking and not looking where she is going.” You guessed it. Someone had called my mother, Nurse Meme. She had driven to the school breaking every traffic law in the book. She had parked her 1968 Thunderbird in the middle of the street behind the stationwagon. She had broken through the crowd to remind me once again of my biggest flaw. I went where I was looking instead of looking where I was going.
2 weeks ago