Our Oldest Son had a very “memorable” Prom Night. “Memorable“ as in, “Is this terrible night ever going to end?”
It had started well enough. Although he had a vehicle of his own, I’d offered to lend to him my brand-spanking new GORGEOUS car-of-my-dreams that I’d been pining over for a long time and had finally bought. So, to say I loved this car would almost be understatement—and there are very few material things I ever loved.
So when I handed my keys to him he knew how much faith I had in him. It was a big deal and big honor.
He was all decked out in his impressive Jr USMC Dress Blues uniform, and had a corsage for his lovely date. As he backed out of our driveway on his way to pick her up I mentally checked off two more rites of passage for each of us:
1. Older son going to his high school Prom
2. Older son driving my new car for the first time
He was proud and nervous. So was his dad.
When he got to the home where his date lived with her parents, there was a long narrow driveway that was squeezed between a long fence and her parents’ home.
He parked, greeted her parents in the time-honored ritual that is dreaded by both the young man and the young girl’s father. I have no idea what it feels like to be the young girl or her mom, but I KNOW how it is for the young man and father and let’s just say it isn’t high on my favorite things to do.
HAfter everyone survived that awkward ordeal, he opened the car door for his date—he was well trained—then got in on the driver’s side, and they waved goodbye to her parents.
He’d made a mental note to himself about how close he was to their house so he carefully avoided the house as he backed out. Thankfully he didn’t hit their house.
He hit their fence. And not just a few feet of it. A LOT of it.
He was unfamiliar with the accelerator and raced backwards quite a bit faster than he planned. Turning much their fence into splintered firewood. In front of her parents.
And he did it not by jamming my bumper into the fence. That would have only created minor damage to my car. No, he used the whole back half of the driver’s side of my car to do it. (It’s funny as I typed this I thought of the Titanic. It hit the iceberg at the worst possible angle and then dragged along much of its side doing major damage along a large length of it. That’s exactly what older son had managed to do.)
And his thoughts for a happy and fun prom night had sunk even faster than that ill-fated ship.
He got out, surveyed the damage and couldn’t believe how extensive it was—-to the fence and to the car. He apologized profusely to his date’s parents. They were remarkably kind to him and good-natured about the whole thing. He offered to pay for the damage to their fence, then got back in what was left of my car and headed for the prom.
On a major freeway, one of the brand-new high-performance driver’s side tires blew out. He had probably picked up a nail from the fence collision and it had taken awhile to penetrate far enough into the tire to cause the blow-out.
He got the car off the freeway and changed the tire. In his uniform. The spare was one of those little temporary tires that look ridiculous on a car.
He finally got safely to the Prom, but I’ve got to believe that he was so concerned about how I would react to all the damage that I doubt he had a very good time.
When the Prom was over he was able to get his date home safely–a minor miracle by itself considering what had gone wrong that night.
It was late when he came home. He probably hoped that I was asleep.
I looked out the kitchen window when he drove up. What I saw was a car that looked like it had been in a MAJOR wreck. As he got out of the car I was relieved to see that he appeared unhurt.
I noticed that my first and final reactions were exactly the same: HE’S OK, She’s OK (I knew this instinctively becasue he’d have called me right away if anyone had gotten hurt), and IT’S ONLY A CAR.
I have to say that I was a little surprised by the latter. And relieved. And happy. And proud. It was after all, only a car. I knew then that I still had my priorities straight, and it felt good.
I think he came in steeled for the worst, and what he got was a relieved parent who calmly heard his story and said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll deal with it tomorrow. Let’s get some sleep.”
Epilogue: He paid for half of the deductible for the car repairs, and eventually the car was as good as new.
His nightmare was finally over.