by Alan Sparhawk
it would have to have been may in 1984. at age 15, i had my minnesota driverís permit and was anxiously waiting to turn 16 in just a month or two and get my real driverís license. i had taken the classes, i had logged my time with mr. rettman, our driving instructor, and had driven several times in the presence of my parents. i had this crap down. for some reason, my parents had to go down to minneapolis for a couple days and left us kids to run the farm, which is something they barely ever did. I am the eldest of five.
that friday, while they were gone, i decided to drive myself to school. up until then, i rode the bus like most of the students, but the glamor and prestige of arriving at the age and resourcefulness of being able to DRIVE yourself to school certainly held sway with me. many of my friends had already been 16 for some months now and they were driving to school. i would have to wait until next fall... i just couldnít wait. this was my chance. i knew if i just drove to town (15 miles, rural roads,) parked on the far end of the lot, drove home right after school, and played it cool, it would be no problem.
after my siblings got on the bus and i knew the bus driver would not intersect my route, i headed out. my parents had the rusty toyota pickup, so i had the Ď62 opal cadet wagon. every time i see a picture of a tribant, from russia, it sort of reminds me of the opal wagon. i kind of miss it. it had potential - my dad had a few parts cars laying around the farm for it, and i had spent a lot of time underneath them holding the flashlight for him, changing some transmission part and swearing. anyway, i took off down the dirt road, and after about a mile i lost control of the stupid thing in the gravel - fishtailing like on an icy road. it went sideways into the ditch and when it caught, it rolled over, smashing in the windshield and tossing me all over hell inside - no seat belts, of course. fortunately, the car landed on itís wheels in an easily navigable field, and i found myself essentially unhurt. i drove out of the field, back onto the road and back home, shaking, crying, and realizing that if ever there was a reason for my father to smack me in the head with a 2x4, this was it. i called them right away, figuring he could use a day to simmer down before he got home and saw the damage. i may have been a bit dramatic at that age.
because of the parts cars
and the tank-like construction of the opel, my dad and i had it back to
shape within just a few days. he was of course not at all as hard
on me as i had feared, but at the same time, this was not a good time period
for my family in general, so iím not sure how to end this. two years
later i was still driving that car - it had a tape player and one mono
speaker in the middle of the dash.