Upgraded Ride

If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome.  The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here.  More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M
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Our parents calmed down about physical play after their initial knee-jerk reaction to Dave’s injury and restricting the rest of us from playing anything, moving or running with scissors if that wasn’t obvious. Of course, it makes sense that they wanted to pack us up in padded boxes to protect us forever, but they could not, and they slowly came to realize that, of course, by that time, my older siblings had finished high school with no further sports.

I was an energetic child, always outdoors hanging from a tree, climbing on a roof, doing back-flips out of swings or off diving boards, making bike jumps, water skiing, playing softball, volleyball, basketball, speed skating, or the latest craze when I was nine, skateboarding. My parents could not contain me and had to let me fly with my friends-outdoors-PLAYING.

I was very coordinated. I am not bragging; I am the genetic product of one fairly coordinated parent (my mom) and one Olympiad caliber athlete, my dad. As evolution would have it, that stuff, coordination is hereditary. I was lingering on a prolonged handstand ride on my super crappy plastic skateboard when one of my neighbors came out of his house, having seen my feet in the air, I supposed and asked me to try a better skateboard. I actually didn’t know this neighbor; I have no idea if he was a sales rep for sports gear or what; it didn’t matter; I didn’t think to ask questions, which would have been good if I had known I would write about it later. It was a heavy wooden skateboard with very nice burgundy, thick rubbery wheels, A Sims Pure Juice board.

It was heavy to hold over my head as I ran to gain speed before flipping myself over for a handstand rolling down the middle of the street for a couple of hundred feet. That ride was a long, fluid wave as I followed the natural curve of the crown of the street toward the curb when I had to stop by cleanly flipping myself right side up onto my feet and ran off the last of the lingering forward momentum. I was in love at first ride with this amazing skateboard. Quality tools in any situation really do make all the difference.

My neighbor was hooting shouts that conveyed he was impressed with my upside-down feat. When my wave finally came to an end, and I returned the heavy board, he told me it was for sale for $109 U.S. dollars – 1975 dollars—adjusted for inflation, would be the equivalent of $419 in 2020. I thanked him for letting me try that juicy skateboard, and wow, what a difference it was to ride it.  

I made my way home and was very excited to tell my parents at dinner about the rad skateboard our neighbor let me try out, about my long wave, and that it was ONLY $109! The concept of expensive was not a barrier for nine-year-old me; I knew I didn’t have $109 dollars, so it could have cost a dollar or a billion; either way, I didn’t have money and didn’t have a concept of how expensive it was to consider. I didn’t exactly ask if I could have the skateboard, but I gushed about it enough for everyone to have gotten the hint.

After dinner, Dave asked me to come into his room for a chat. It sounded serious. Never before had I been summoned for a chat. I sat on the wooden stool that always sat next to his bed-where my mom sat when she or any of us fed him, balancing on two legs as I tipped it back to sit on, an illegal move in my parents’ house because “YOU WILL RUIN THE FURNITURE” doing such things, not to mention the risk of falling over backward. But as an ever-energetic kid-I was always doing such dare devilish things. I had done this probably most of the times I sat on the stool when my mom wasn’t in the room and had more than once accidentally kicked Dave’s bed, trying to catch myself from crashing, unfortunately causing him one of his instant reactive muscle spasms followed by apologies for having been so clumsy. “Oh, SORRY, SORRY, SORRY!”  

Back to the chat; Dave began laying out a proposal. I let the stool fall back on all four legs as I was drawn into the serious nature of the chat and no longer had the concentration for balancing. I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of his mouth; my focus was drawn closely to his mouth only here… “I will give you the money for the skateboard if you promise to practice the piano every day WITHOUT COMPLAINING.”

I thought… Are you kidding me? Who wouldn’t jump at that offer?

Not only did he have to endure listening to me play the piano, but he also heard the worst part of any of it, me complaining about having to practice or arguing with my mom about whatever piece of music I was supposed to be working on. I mentioned that I studied piano lessons in the previous chapter about my dad, playing for him when he was in the hospital rehab facility. I alluded to how hard he “won” concession from me that I was finally grateful for lessons. What I didn’t mention is that from my perspective as a child, piano lessons were nothing less than torture that I endured beginning at the age of four.

My mom was intent on having a concert pianist under her roof, and time was running out for her, or more like she was running out of children to put through formal music education. My older siblings either hadn’t been interested or my parents were unsuccessful wrangling them into it, or maybe they could not afford them. I have no idea, but we rented a truck and drove to San Diego to pick up a piano from my aunt’s house. The ancient beat-up piano (1888) looked like it had spent its first hundred years in a bar, then my aunt’s for a couple of decades now it was in our dining room.

I witnessed all aspects of the components of the infrastructure being put into place but had no idea what lay ahead of me. My mom’s five older sisters, her mother, and she played the piano. A piano was in every relative’s house we visited and was played at every dinner or occasion we spent anywhere. I just figured this piano would be played after dinners at our house now by someone, one of my aunt’s probably.

My dad drove my mom, my sister Anne and me for a ride the next day, the purpose of which was to help my mom become familiar with the location to be able to drive me to lessons the following week, before map books or cell phones, you had to do recon to figure out where you were going. We pulled up in front of a property completely hidden behind a tall, nicely maintained hedge.

The large mailbox out front had a treble clef music symbol on the side. At four years old, I had no recognition of what that weird cursive letter looking thingy represented. My parents excitedly announced as they pointed, “This is where YOU are going to have piano lessons!” They were pointing to the mailbox with the address and symbol on it. I didn’t understand why we were driving around or were looking at this mailbox-and piano lessons? I wondered to myself, What is a lesson? I thought there must be something inside that mailbox that was this lesson thing they were talking about and asked as much. My parents and Anne (who was nine, obviously old enough to know what lessons were) laughed. After their response, I said and thought nothing further. Until the following Friday-my designated lesson time for THE NEXT TEN YEARS because Mrs. Hazel James Edwards was expensive at $14 an hour in 1970 dollars (adjusted for inflation is over $80 an hour in 2020) and impossibly hard to get a lesson with-you had to know someone. Once you got a time slot, you held on to it.

I obviously figured out very quickly what lessons were, music or otherwise-lessons are WORK. Before I began attending kindergarten, I was taking music lessons. I had to practice every day for an HOUR at the age of FOUR. An hour is a lifetime solitary sentence to a four-year-old with the focus of a gnat, and it was painful punishment for this energetic creature to sit still for an entire hour and basically teach myself how to play the piano because lessons are brief, the rest of the time is all on you.  

My mom was busy running our house to be able to stop and show me what I was supposed to do with the music, and much to her obvious disappointment, I was not producing concert-quality music then or any time in the foreseeable future. Two of her sisters could have been concert pianists; she and the others could muddle through a songbook, but piano music and singing filled her childhood home, and I think she expected music to come out of that instrument pretty much as soon as I sat down alone in our dining room with it.  

I quickly grew to be stressed out all the time just thinking about having to practice; I stabbed and pounded out notes stumbling my way through, and my mom expressed nothing but compounding disappointment, telling me to, “Play it again – Do it over – From the beginning – Play with feeling…” (insert the infinity symbol). All of the above was an unpleasant new dynamic in my life and under our roof. I am sure my mom was also stressed out because it was so expensive.

I know people think this is what you have to do to be a successful dragon mother to ‘help’ your child become a dragon baby prodigy, but it really is torture when the child has no proclivity at whatever is being force-fed for their advancement.

I am sure I sound like an ingrate; I don’t care. I know for a fact, music lessons are not for everyone. Anything that causes repeated otherwise avoidable division for more than a few weeks between a parent and child really needs to be considered carefully. My parents were all about the “If you start something you have to finish it,” ideal. When was this going to be finished? It wasn’t like playing a seasonal sport. It didn’t end with the school year or for holidays. This ongoing tension surrounding piano lessons dragged on FOR A DECADE, and it altered my relationship with my mother for years beyond that.

I truly loathe to this day when people gush about me having a musical quote “gift.” I have noticed these words tend to come from people who don’t play an instrument or have any idea how many hours go into making anything sound like MUSIC and not just stabby painful sounds. I spent more than ten thousand hours emotionally chained to an uncomfortable wooden piano bench striving for perfection that was never nor could ever be achieved; I would lash out at any mere mention of gifts. I still retort, “Gifts are things that come wrapped in a box, with a bow, ready to be enjoyed.” My experience was anything but that.

I seriously didn’t hear anything but individual disconnected clumsy sounds fly out of that lumbering upright piece of furniture for years. I mean, yes, I learned to read music; but I really struggled to put the notes together to form a coherent story elevated into the silence. No one, not even me, could tell where the story was going. What music lessons really did was hone my tenacity. You need GRIT to endure difficult things. THAT is my takeaway.  

That rant was brought to you by the letter C for context.

Back to Dave, and what I recognize now as essentially brokering a peace deal with me in (Geneva) his room five years into my piano lessons trauma and his too. His too because not only did he have to listen to me play the painfully stabby music, the upright grand piano was located on the shared wall with his room, but he also was forced to live through the ongoing war between our mom and me. When someone yells at anyone, man, beast, or child, everyone in the vicinity is experiencing the same unpleasant energy and feels the pain internally on some level as if they are being yelled at too, not fun.

There was a decorative hollowed-out coconut carved into the shape of a head with a face on it in his room. The lid was the guy’s hair. Lifting his hair off provided access to a concave bowl that Dave always kept a stash of money and other things like business cards and coins. Dave directed me to the ‘coconut head’ where there was enough money to buy the SIMS PURE JUICE very expensive skateboard!! I was SO excited! I could not believe it. I promised to practice the piano without complaining EVERY DAY in trade.

The next day I ran to our neighbor’s house one block south of ours and knocked on the door. I handed him the $109 U.S. equivalent of a billion kid dollars, and the SIMS PURE JUICE skateboard was MINE! I still cannot say that enduring the piano war was a fair trade for this thing of beauty, but it was in the moment. I absolutely LOVED that thing.

In retrospect, and to my husband’s horror as I relayed this story to him, he was asking all the obvious (NOW) questions, like:

Husband: Did you or your parents even know that guy?
Me: NO.
Husband: How did any of you even know the value of the skateboard?
Me: I have no idea.
Husband: I can’t believe your parents didn’t ask these questions?
Me: It was a different time.
Husband: And your parents just let you, a nine-year-old, take $109 dollars and negotiate the deal with a strange man at his house a block away on your own?
Me: When you put it that way, it sounds very scary and like a bad idea. But it was a GREAT skateboard!
Husband: WAIT, so you are telling me that an adult man, a stranger that you had never seen before (or since), ALSO thought it was perfectly ok to negotiate with a nine-year-old CHILD??
Me: – That is a rhetorical question.
Husband: Did he ask you if it was ok with your parents?
Me: –
Husband: Did he ask where you got the money? For a nine-year-old to materialize $109 dollars is a pretty big deal; I mean, they were 1975 dollars!
Me: This is sounding worse and worse the more YOU analyze this. I suppose if you were my dad, this story would never have happened. But, ya, no one had any questions.  

After this thought-provoking conversation, I poked around the internet to see what had become of the Sims Pure Juice company. The results found, to my surprise, an eBay auction for the same skateboard I had for $400. I also found a set of four of the wheels, just the wheels unused from that time, which was suggested at $2000! Yes-validation, not sure of what exactly, but it was a quality product that people were still willing to pay a premium for! I guess it was good to learn retroactively that my brother’s $109 1975 dollars were not spent by nine-year-old me frivolously.

I took care of my things, and the skateboard was my most prized billion-dollar possession. It even lived in the house, not the garage,  under the dining room buffet, which was right next to the door to 25th street for easy access as I ran out of the house. It remained there until well after I moved out in my mid-twenties. Every kid, Brian’s boys, grandkids that came into the house who bothered to explore much would find it and enjoy riding on it. I have no idea where it ended up, But I put many fine miles on that thing. I hope maybe my nephew enjoyed it, but it was undoubtedly one of the greatest joys of my childhood.  

As for my end of the bargain, of course, I resumed the war against piano! I was NINE! I was on my best behavior for a while, but it was a short-lived reprieve for our mom, with five more years of drudgery ahead of me;  Full disclosure, I already told all y’all in the beginning that I was not as good of a person as mediator/ counselor Dave.

Update: My husband is STILL incredulous, envisioning how this played out with the stranger.

***

How to irritate your siblings and scare the shit out of your parents…

All of my older siblings got a car, not necessarily on their 16th birthday, but they all ended up with a car soon thereafter as they moved forward, prepared to enter the working world and life.

There was a generation of young Americans who, between the mid-60s through the mid-80s at some point in their life, besides wanting it all night (Bowie reference), owned either a V.W. or a Camaro; at least it seemed that way to me. During the 1973 oil embargo, gas prices doubled, and my dad decided to buy a Volkswagon Beetle since more of his kids were driving, and it got better mileage than our woody station wagon that seated 10. I remember the day he bought it, being in that tiny car with more than a legal load of kids by today’s standards, piled inside, arms in the air cheering as we drove off the lot with our gently used 1966 V.W. By the late 70s, our family had three V.W.s; My dad drove the 66, my sister Linda drove one, and Scott drove one. My parents were planning on restoring and giving Anne my dad’s V.W. But she had different plans that included marrying and starting a family and needed a safer car, a Buick Skylark-with seatbelts, which her darling husband Randy bought for her.

I always got a ride from a variety of friends and wasn’t in a rush to drive. I know most kids were chomping at the bit to get their license to freedom, but I wasn’t. I didn’t feel that my parents were in a position to buy me a car. Attending catholic high school was expensive. I never wanted for a ride anywhere since every friend I had, had a car of their own or access to a nice family car. If you can believe it, two of my friends drove a brand spanking new car almost every week; my friend Dena’s dad owned a car dealership, and another friend, Annamae’s dad, managed a huge dealership in Orange County. Plus, everything is WAY more fun with a friend anyway; why would I even bother to drive alone?   

My friends were going to be heading off to college soon after graduation as in far away off to college. My rides were about to dry up imminently. Brian was kind and patient enough to teach me how to drive a stick shift on some abandoned surface streets in the north end of town. I took the prerequisite classes and got my license right before graduation. I had forgotten until writing this that I took my D.M.V. test in my boyfriend’s dad’s gorgeous silver 911S, which I find hilarious now. It may sound like I was rolling in dough, but honestly, my parents were struggling to keep me at a private school, mostly for my safety than anything-but most of the kids I went to school with were from well-off families. I had more than one boyfriend in high school who drove their dad’s Porsche to school-this particular detail stopped by husband with a “Really? You had two boyfriends in High School who drove Porsches, specifically? Not just sportscars?” I nod, expecting this sort of question from him.  

I was going to be graduating ON my 18th birthday and really thought it was going to be the perfect opportunity for my parents to buy me a car. I dropped major hints about wanting a midnight blue 280 ZX T-Top. My dad always told me to DREAM BIG and BE SPECIFIC. I don’t think that is exactly what he meant, but I was VERY specific about what I wanted. I always have been.

My tiny senior class of 120 students’-graduation day came, there were lines of kids with robes. There was the graduation music everyone knows and expects to hear; there were speeches, names called, and diplomas handed out. There were handshakes and hugs, and photos galore. I returned home by noon from what seemed like a strange time of day to have graduation…MORNING on a Sunday, but Catholics do everything on different days than the rest of the world. They have their own weird nonsensical holiday schedule-I stopped questioning the out of the ordinary dates before piano lessons-that long ago. Upon ditching that gown for some shorts, I was ready to face summer and the rest of my life, on wheels! I ran downstairs excited, assuming I was getting a car! A CAR!!! And not just any car, I had ordered specifically a midnight blue 280 ZX T-Top. Woo WOO!!!

Why I thought I was getting a car without anyone hinting or anything, I just assumed because the stars aligned with my birthday AND graduation. That in my mind, equates to CAR. I ran downstairs; my dad handed me the garage door opener with an index card that said, “Mardi, here is your Z”…I ran outside, pointed the opener at the garage door, and clicked the clicker, which is what we called the door opener. When the door opened there inside the otherwise vastly empty garage was a tiny Matchbox car, a teeny, tiny metal toy car, albeit a 280 ZX T-Top with the tiny driver’s door open. My dad was very pleased with his prank and laughed and laughed at his tiny little joke. I, however, did not think it was funny. In retrospect, I admit maybe it was a tall order. My siblings got V.W.s. But I waited for my license; I didn’t bug them about it. I thought that might have bought me some special credits. Apparently not. Whatever. I went inside to pout over cake.

A month later, my best friend at the time, Annamae, who was soon to be moving away, and I were busy filling our summer with adventures. On this particular day, a Saturday, I had been daydreaming through the FOR SALE pages of the advertising section of the newspaper, that is what we did in those days to find cars for sale-we read the ads in a filthy newspaper.

I dreamed up an adventure of test-driving cars using our (mine and/or Annamae’s) feminine charm to get into the test-drivers seat of some car and have some fun…for the afternoon. Something to laugh about later. I hadn’t actually had the chance to talk to Annie yet about what felt like a hilarious plan for an adventure when my dad called the house, I answered. He asked, “Hey Dolly, whatcha-up to?” I responded in the most nonchalant manner ever that, “Ohhhhhh, I was just perusing the newspaper and found a Porsche of all things on some dealership lot that Annie and I are going to make some car salesmen crazy on a test drive, that’s what I’mma doin’. What are YOU doin’?” He was calling from work, it was his daily, checking in on my mom, asking her if she needed anything from the store before he came home, call. I knew that was what he was up to because he had been up to this for the past oh twenty or thirty-something years at that point, darling guy.  His response was just as nonchalant. “Well, if you like it, why don’t you bring it by? Maybe we’ll buy it.” I thought he was messing with me again; I was looking at the matchbox Z car from my birthday on my nightstand as he spoke in my ear. I said, “OKaaaaay.” And then shouted like people everywhere did for whomever, my mom in this case, to pick up the phone downstairs, “MO-O-O-O-UM!!! DAD IS ON THE PHONE!!”

In the case that he wasn’t kidding, I did not want to miss this opportunity. I hopped out of bed and took the fastest shower ever, dried my truly wild-ass mane of hair, and called Annie for a ride to the used car dealership. Not EVERY used car is a P.O.S., by the way. Used cars need our love too. This car was a two-seater meaning both of us could not ride together. She waited at the dealership while I drove the sales guy with me straight to see my dad at work. I took words very seriously as well as my dreams-still do. I believed in that shit (still do); after all, it was he who told me how that shit worked.

I pulled up and honked the cute European sounding dual pitched horn of the little roadster. My dad came outside and marveled at the gorgeous little ride I had found—a turquoise, 914 hard-top convertible (yes, the top was off), wicked-ass little rocket of a slot race car. My dad could see down into the car from his vantage on the concrete walkway in front of his building. The sales guy was in the passenger seat, white as a ghost and looking straight ahead, possibly into his afterlife, after his frightening ride the eight very FAST blocks directly between the dealership and my dad’s shop. He was getting a commission; I felt zero sorrow for him. Plus, he was shamelessly hitting on me before getting in the car, like he was getting ANYWHERE. I saw right through his salesman bullshit, plus he had photos of a wife and children on his desk-the jerk. My dad nodded in approval and said such magical words that I never expected to hear on that Saturday morning when I simply expected to toy with some car salesmen in exchange for a wild test drive of some sort; I focused on his mouth as the words came out, “If you like it, let’s get the paperwork going.”

I had no idea what exact paperwork had to “get going,” but I certainly understood enough to know a car was heading my way—fast, THIS CAR! I drove the pathetically flirty sales guy back to the dealership faster than I had driven to my dad’s approval so he could get ON that “paperwork going” shit pronto. Annie, waiting back at the dealership, could not believe that was it; I found a car, drove it less than five minutes,  and was getting a car, this car! She left the dealership because I obviously had my own ride to get myself anywhere I freaking wanted from here on out!

I waited while the credit people filled out paperwork for my parents to sign. They ran my parents’ credit. Papers began printing, they, the credit guy and the sales guy looked at the paperwork that was printed on a ream of sprocket paper, the way old computers printed back in the day (1984), both their eyebrows were raised way up. I was worried and inquired nervously, “What?” My parents were NOT rich by any means; they were, however, people who paid their bills ON TIME. It turns out they had the best credit these two guys had ever seen. They handed me the keys before the papers stopped printing. I could not believe the day I was having. They put the contract in an envelope for me to get my parents to sign, I had the keys, and they said, bring the contract back in 48 hours. Buying a car was unbelievably EASY! Holy SHIT! Especially when you are not paying for it!

I had already started summer school. I needed a car. Actually, I had started college my junior year of high school, trying to chip away at some path of a degree early on. My parents had mentioned at some time in the past that as long as I was in school, I would have a rent-free place to live and a car that was paid for.

For Your Information: driving a sports car when you are 18 is very expensive. Not necessarily the car, but in 1984 my insurance was $200 a month and my car payment $150. The equivalent in today’s costs adjusted for inflation is $500 a month for insurance OR $6000 a year and $400 a month for a ten-year-old car (payment)-all for an unemployed junior college student with an undeclared major.

My parents obviously had not considered the cost of insurance when the car was promised to me. My darling brother Dave agreed to split the cost of the car payment and my insurance-none of these negotiations took place with my knowledge-they-the adults worked out the details, and I found out about them later. I changed colleges and career paths, but I swear to God, this badass car was the second amazing ride my darling brother helped me acquire. My husband, ever the fiscally responsible gentleman, asked what may be another obvious question, “Where did Dave get money to help pay for this?” Honestly, I never thought about such things. I felt like a princess of the world where magical doors just opened and money happened; it came from a magical source-nothing to worry my pretty little head about. My husband probably understands this response from me more than anyone in my life ever could or would. I laughed as I thought about the source of Dave’s money coming from that coconut head-was he laundering money in that thing? Of course not, he received State Disability Insurance after his accident, a very small amount of money monthly. That was where the money from the coconut head came from.

My husband had to know more.

Husband: Did your dad ask any questions of the sales guy?
Me: No.
Husband: Like How much was the car?
Me: No.
Husband: Did he negotiate at all?
Me: No.
Husband: How many miles were on it?
Me: God, that is weird, isn’t it? It is almost a complete repeat of the billion-dollar skateboard purchase; I was 18 years and roughly 20 minutes old and basically negotiated; ok, I see now that I didn’t actually NEGOTIATE anything, they advertised the price of the car, and I was sold. I mean obvi my parents paid for it, but my dad didn’t look under the hood, kick the tires or even ask the price!

Husband’s mind blown.     

From the beginning, Dave, again, not my dad, was very excited to counsel me as to the care and feeding of (all the maintenance items that I would need to know about) my new baby properly. This reminded me of the time he saved me from my brutal bike and showed me how to use the coaster brakes. His counseling was the training wheels I needed for car ownership, like knowing how to check on things like tire pressure, wear, and checking the oil and fluid levels and not be taken advantage of by mechanics.

When my car needed an oil change, Dave quickly talked me into doing it myself. It would have been SO much easier to have just taken it to a garage to be done; but this was just slightly before there were quick oil change franchises on every corner. I let his enthusiasm talk me into it.

He loved being in the mix of a project like this! He explained all the tools and parts I would need, which I methodically laid out on the curb in front of our house. He sat in his wheelchair on the sidewalk, counseling me through the process from memory. I joked a bit fearfully; you know how there is some truth in jest, about wanting to avoid being a real-life episode of Gidget Goes to Gas Station. He assured me I would not end up covered in motor oil. He suggested I park my car with the passenger side wheels up on the curb, elevating the little car, creating a space underneath for little Gidget me to slide under. He talked me through, feeling my way around the motor’s bottom to find the nut on the lowest point of the engine-the oil pan. I didn’t have room under the low profile car to look directly, so lying on my back; I felt around with my arms above my head, a wrench in one hand, feeling with the other as he patiently repeated from the sidewalk, “It should be at the very lowest part of the engine.” I found the nut, loosened it without much trouble, drained the oil, returned the nut, crawled out, happily without being covered in motor oil as I envisioned might happen. I replaced the oil. He came around to the driver’s side of the car; it was a mid-engine, so the oil dipstick was accessed from the engine compartment directly behind the driver’s side. He explained how to clean off and read the oil on the dipstick-and admonished me to do so every time I fueled the car up. He counseled me on important life things more than my dad who was a great dad with great advice, but Dave helped me feel like I conquered the automotive world.

***

That car was a terrible choice for me, or for anyone under probably the age of 65. I am certain my parents regretted buying me that car every minute I was behind the wheel, not because of the ridiculous cost of the insurance, which would have been a noteworthy enough reason, but because I drove like a bat-outta-hell all the time, everywhere, I went. It was just too tempting to have a car with that much power. At almost 55 now, I still barely have enough self-control with a fast car; that is why I theorize 65 because maybe in another ten years, I will finally grow up.

My parents were unaware at the time, but I got pulled over 18 times in the short duration that I drove that car, which was less than a year, and NO, I did not crash it.  I only was written up one time! I admit, I REALLY deserved it. Ok, I deserved it EVERY time I was pulled over, but that one time I had more than doubled the maximum speed limit on the crosstown freeway-ya, the speed limit was 55 I was doing 120 mph.

In my defense, I was taking my cat to the vet for emergency surgery following a catfight with our neighbor’s alley cat Spot, and she was bleeding profusely all over the place. I was freaking out and flying in and out and around traffic when I flew right past a CHP officer. I took my foot off the gas and coasted to a stop and waited for him to catch up to me and attended to my cat in the meantime. She had a huge laceration across her side that was pouring out blood on my lambswool seat covers, which made a scary murdery looking scene in my car by contrast. The cop guessed by the fact that I had pulled over to wait with my hazards on that something had to be wrong. As soon as he approached, he saw my cat bleeding and obviously in trouble-what cat lays on the seat of a car going 120? Exactly.

He didn’t keep me waiting long with a lecture; he did let me know that he could have arrested me for wreckless driving-anything over 80 m.p.h. in (1984) California is cause for arrest. Instead, he wrote me up for 75, which he informed me meant I could attend traffic school to have the ticket removed from my record. Two things I had never heard of, Traffic School or a driving record, but went on to earn the equivalent of a Ph.D. in Traffic School over the next few years to save on my insurance rates or be able to KEEP insurance at all; The state has created a limit to how often you can attend to clear a ticket off your record to once every 18 months. I hate to think I had a hand in why that rule was created, but it’s a very distinct possibility.

My husband had to stop me at this point in the story to answer some questions.

Husband: Wait, 18, EIGHTEEN stops, with SEVENTEEN warnings? No one is warned SEVENTEEN TIMES! You need to explain that further.
Me: Well, you might have received seventeen warnings if you had boobs.   

***

In less than ten months, the car caught fire. A modification to the engine, the installation of two dual-barrel Webber carburetors made before my ownership had strained the gas lines, a known point of weakness in Porsches of early 1970s vintage. Those carbs are what made it faster than typical but also the cause of its untimely demise. The car ignited in a spectacular Miami Vice style two hundred feet in the air mushroom cloud type of fireball of explosion beginning in the eastbound fast lane of the 10 freeway and dying on the shoulder during morning rush hour in Fontana, California. Rest In Peace, little roadster.

Retroactively I feel terrible for my parents having to watch their youngest child tempt fate so recklessly for ten whole months like that. I did, however, learn how to be a defensive driver in that amazing little ride. But seriously, whose brother helps pay for their car like that? Ok, he did give Scott the car that he had been driving at the time of his accident-because obviously he was not going to be driving ever again, but that was a dune-buggy, basically a VW without clothes. He was a thoughtful and generous brother. And MAN were my other siblings jealous! Oy!

My husband, asked me if I ever took him for a ride in my Porsche? I was a bit stunned by the question and then so disappointed that I had never thought of it! DAMN IT! It never even dawned on me to take him for a ride; Dave didn’t ride in cars after his accident-you have already read about all of his vans. I simply never envisioned him out of his wheelchair-sitting in the passenger seat of a car. If we had been creatively thinking we could have figured out a way to have placed him in the car, it would have been a tight fit and a rough ride for him, much like that afternoon he was on that boat at Lake Perris with Brian, but I know like that boat ride, he would have loved the sensation of driving fast, sliding around the corners like we were on rails. I wish I had thought of it! Damn.

© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020

2 thoughts on “Upgraded Ride

  1. This was such a fun post!!! Loved every word…what a fabulous family you have. Your dad reminds me so much of my beloved dad…”only the best for my princess”! And the generosity and devotion from your brother was beyond compare… what a little daredevil you were Mardi!! You clearly have not lost your spirit, as it lives on and on in your writing…thank you again for sharing your wonderful family memories.

    1. Sandi! Thank you for always taking a moment to both read my posts and thoughtfully comment. I so appreciate you doing so. My dad and my brother were such lovely human beings. I was so lucky to know them! I would love to hear about your dad!!!

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