The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Flashback Friday!

I haven't quite gotten over the shock of Sabrina and Sundance being sent home last night...in lieu of HALEY and SANJAYA...what are people THINKING?!?!?!? PLEASE put down your crack pipes before calling the tollfree voting numbers!! I'm begging you!

Yes, yes, they FINALLY sent Antonella home, and it's unlikely that Sabrina or Sundance would have made it all the way, and, yes, I'm sure the drama of those choices added to the final 12 'event', but Sabrina? She has a great voice!! She had at least a few weeks left before she should have been cut. I suppose I should just move on to other matters, though. As ranting about American Idol isn't likely to get any of us anywhere.

I've been thinking about it and I'm not sure I can reign in this week's Flashback Friday! I fear I will be rambling on more tangents than even I usually do. Frightening, I know.

A couple of things became juxtaposed in my mind this week and led me to this one, I guess. The second of those things, the one that made it click into place, was part of a conversation with my sister yesterday evening. She had dropped by for a visit and we were chatting with my girls when an incident from our (mine and my younger sisters', that is) past crept into the conversation. I haven't thought about it in years. Immediately, though, I realized it would be this week's edition. For good or otherwise.

You see, I was 17 and my sister was 16, in February of 1979. (We're a whopping 12 1/2 months apart. Go, Mom!) I had gotten my driver's permit some time before the incident in question (a delay because of some surgery my mom had at the time), and she'd just gotten hers.

Both of us, as you can imagine, were chomping at the bit to get our own cars and do far more driving than we had been. Which likely led to a rather bad decision on our part. Even for teenagers.

There had been a death in the family. In an attempt to make it as clear as possible, let's say that my mother (who was my grandmother's eldest) has 5 half brothers and sisters. Their father adopted my mother when she was 3. At some point, when my mother was a teenager, and after WWII, my step-grandfather abandoned his family. He, literally, went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came home.

Ever, again.

My grandmother tried to find him for a good many years. Begging his family for help raising the man's large family. But it was in vain. They likely knew where he was, but they weren't going to help her.

Because he'd been in the army, she was able to continue to draw benefits for her children and, at the time of this story, a pension. In any event, in February of 1979, my step-grandfather died. I'd never met the man. My grandmother had long since moved on. He was a non-entity to me in most ways. Everything except his name.

Ironically, his family had called my grandmother when the man died. She hadn't seen or heard from him in more than twenty years, but her brother-in-law (I don't say 'former', because she was never divorced) called her. Interesting that he had known where she was all along. He wanted her to know that her husband had been living in Phoenix and that he was dead. All those years struggling to raise his children and they wait until he's dead to contact her. But it gets better.

The reason he'd called was because he expected her to do something about the funeral arrangements. I'm totally serious.

My grandmother was a bit of a spitfire (oh, yeah, totally genetic), but she had loved the man. Further, she had children with him. She was conflicted, however, because she had been in a long-term relationship with the only man I ever knew as a grandfather and didn't want to hurt him.

So she called my mother, and she asked her to do this for her. My mother could never refuse her, so she, my dad, and one of my mom's brothers flew out to Phoenix to clear out the tiny apartment and make arrangements to bring his body back to Kentucky. (I remember my mother telling me that, when they walked into his apartment, the first thing they saw was a tiny photograph of all of the kids, that was sitting on a nightstand near his bed.)

It was a very strange time. My mother's two sisters and one of the other boys were furious that anyone was doing this. The man had abandoned them, after all. They were still harboring some hurt, and were fiercely defensive of their mother, who had been put in an unimaginable position all those years ago.

Given our ages, my mother decided to trust us on our own, while they went out west to handle these things.

You are right to groan. Even in the presence of tragedy, we were, first and foremost, teenagers.

I will quantify what follows by saying that we did not throw even one party. Not one. Also, we did not burn down the house. So, I'd like a little credit for that, please.

We didn't touch the car the first two days. Not at all. But when we heard a weather report indicating icy conditions coming overnight, and we were expecting our parents back the next day, we wanted to go to the grocery to get some things to cook dinner for them and that way they wouldn't have to go out in the bad weather. That was the justification, anyway.

So we stole the car.

The grocery was maybe 3/4 of a mile. Certainly close enough that we could have walked. Sure, we would have both had to go to carry the bags, but it wasn't as if we weren't both going anyway.

But, you know, we figured we could get it done faster with the car and we'd be right back, so who'd be the wiser, right? I was funny, even then!

I drove. My sister was such a chicken. And it was all going pretty well, too. Got to the grocery. Parked the car in an actual space. Sure, I was nervous, but I was rockin' the grand theft auto in a big way.

Of course, we both kept thinking we'd see a neighbor or someone would just know we only had permits. My sister explained, though that we had TWO permits, so that was the same has having ONE license. Which made TOTAL sense...at the time.

But we didn't see anyone we knew. Which may us feel we were home free. Of course, we weren't.

While we were in the store, picking up just a few bags of groceries, the temperature kept dropping. When we came out, the car wouldn't start. We kept trying, but it just wouldn't cooperate. I don't know if it was the car. Or the cold. Or my inexperience (maybe I flooded it, I don't know). But the damned thing wouldn't start. And my parents were due home in like 12 hours.

We walked home. Leaving my parents' car in the grocery parking lot. I remember we kept talking about what we were going to do...

SF: Look, we can say it was stolen or something.

SF SISTER: Isn't there anyone you know that could help us get it home?

SF: If we can't get it home, they're gonna be really mad!

SF SISTER: Maybe we should be walking in another direction...instead of towards home...

Granted, it was a pretty good suggestion, given the mess we had to clean up, but hardly the most practical option.

So, after we put the groceries away, and hurriedly made out our wills, we walked next door and asked our neighbor to help us. Gratefully, he did.

In the icy conditions, he took me back up the grocery. After trying to jump the car, unsuccessfully, he chained it to the back of his pick up truck and towed it home, parking it in front of the house. That is to say, not in the driveway where my parents had left it.

They were, as you'd expect, pretty furious when they got home. Upset, I'm sure, because they felt betrayed. They'd trusted us and we'd let them down. Plus there was the whole thing where the car was broken and we could have wrecked it (and the insurance wouldn't cover us driving it) and somewhere way down the list, "we could've gotten killed". Lastly, there was the immense guilt of, "I was away dealing with getting my long lost stepfather's effects in order and arranging for his burial and THIS is what you do to me?" Of course, by that point we were wishing we had been killed in a car crash. My sister was giving me that I Told You We Should Have Run Away look, but I couldn't be bothered with that. I countered with a Shut Up, Bitch, Don't Make Me Put A Beat Down On You look, which ended that whole non-existent conversation right there.

The fact that we had done this so that we could cook a welcome home dinner (which we still did) didn't seem to insulate us from the full-on wrath. (Of course, it had been a tenuous excuse at best anyway). Having teens of my own now, I guess I'm in a better place to understand it. Grown-up implications and all.

The warden handed down a month-long grounding. And it was even longer before we were allowed around the car again. I don't recall what exactly was wrong with the car, but it was something that was easily (and thankfully, inexpensively, fixed). As of this date, our criminal records have been expunged due to our status as juveniles at the time of the incident.

Sometimes, I wonder what deviltry my own girls will put me through. I've been exceptionally lucky in that regard. How much longer can I expect that to hold out? I don't know, but you better believe I'm gonna ride it as long as I can.

This weekend, I'm taking them back to spend a week with their dad. Always hard for me, but Highlander is always there to help me through. Before they get away, though, we have a picnic in the park scheduled for this afternoon (when temps are supposed to hit SEVENTY...WooHoo!!).

On tap this weekend are a couple wedding related items (ordering our rings, picking up a few decoration items, and possibly working on a cardbox idea I had), doing my folks' taxes, and maybe catching a movie. Mostly, we're hoping to have some quiet time to relax a little before the week starts up with a furor once again. (Though my next week HAS to be a little easier, as Lexus' last day is today!)

Hoping that all of you have a restful weekend! Don't steal any cars...but if you do, try to give a little love...;)

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