I don't really hate February . . .I mean my great-granddaughter's birthday is the 6th and my 2nd son's birthday is the 28th. My sister's birthday is the 16th, so it's not ALL bad . . . but I'm always glad when it's over. The 21st of February, 1991 I lost my dad in car accident, and well since then I have dreaded February.
So TGFIO stands for "Thank God February is Over", and this will be the point in my blog where I add a memory about my dad each year.
One of my favorite memories is the "car story", which most of you have heard like a million times, but for those of you who haven't heard it . . . here goes again.
The Fastest Car I Drove in High School
My dad was very inventive. . . he built a car, in our backyard, out of parts from the junk yard. He was very mechanical (to say the least). I got my license by test driving an extended length full size van. (It was horrible.) After I passed my driving test, I wanted a light blue Mustang with a white convertible top. There was one for sale only a few streets over from my neighborhood and I showed my dad. He told me that he would get me a car, and I was so excited just thinking about that great Mustang . . . but no. That is NOT what I got.
THIS is pretty close to what I got. . . a 70-something Opel Manta, except mine was orange instead of red and the black hood was faded. (Do I need to give you a second to stop laughing? I can wait. . . it's okay.)
So this car was a standard and I didn't know how to drive one, so I would practice on the farm roads between corn fields where no one could see the "jerky" shifting and then the subsequent engine dying. But once I got the hang of it, I realized that this ugly little car could go pretty fast. I had no idea how "freeing" it was to go fast.
So I kept going back to the farm roads in my hometown, in Kentucky, mainly because I figured out where they were and because they were less likely to have cops. But I was hopelessly addicted to speeding. . . it was so wonderful. I loved it.
One afternoon, after school, I was coming over the bridge at Carter Road, and I met my dad. He was going toward home and I was headed away from home. I wasn't really paying too much attention to how fast I was going, not yet anyway. I saw my dad, and recognized his "homemade car" and then I glanced down at the speedometer.
. . . . now the rest of this little scene plays out in slow motion in my memory.
I see that I am speeding.
I see my dad's car getting closer.
I try to slow down.
My dad sees me now.
My brain is twisting inside out.
My dad's car is close enough for me to see his face.
My dad smiles.
My dad waves.
I'm confused. . .
and now we're back to normal speed again. Did my dad just smile and wave at me while I was speeding? I'm delirious? No, right? I mean, that didn't just happen did it?
So I finished my little speeding trip a little early and headed back home. I went upstairs and did some homework, or played some Atari . . . I don't really remember what I did, I only know that my mom called me downstairs when it was time for dinner.
I remember sitting at the dinner table and my dad coming in to eat. He was washing his hands and talking to my mom, and I could feel my fingers losing feeling. When I get nervous all the blood runs out of my fingers, they get freezing cold and depending on how nervous I am, sometimes I can't feel them at all. . . .I didn't know what he was going to say or do about seeing me. I thought to myself, maybe he really didn't recognize me?
Oh yeah, he waved. Hmmm, maybe he thought I was someone else. . . well he smiled and waved? I don't know. I argue with myself for what seems like a really long time. But now my dad is sitting and eating supper. He says, "I saw you on Carter Road today." I said, "Yeah, I saw you too." I think he might have asked where I was going or something I don't remember.
What I do remember is that was the end of the conversation. No . . . "Why were you going so fast?" no . . . "You know you shouldn't be driving that fast." . . . nothing. Just I saw you.
"Wow!" I thought. "I have the coolest dad in the whole world." He saw me, he must have known I was speeding, but he trusts me and he's cool with it. Man I am soooo lucky. I mean seriously, I know he had to know I was speeding . . . how could he not know. whoa.
So the next morning I get ready to go to school and I get in my cute little car. . . magically transformed from ugly to cute, by its incredible speed and ability to trick my father into thinking I wasn't speeding. . . LOL!
I got to the long stretch between my house and school where normally I would have to shift to 4th gear, but something strange happened. I shifted from 1st to 2nd, and then waited for the engine to make the whining sound I had become used to, so that I could shift to 3rd gear, but it just didn't. The car didn't die or stop, it just ended at 2nd gear. So I drove around 35 mph all the way to school.
Now, remember I told you that my dad was something of a mechanical genius, so I wasn't worried. Not really. I would just tell my dad when he got home from work and he would fix it. Problem solved.
So my dad comes home and I run down the stairs and tell him my situation. The whole story about trying to shift to 3rd but it was like the car didn't want to go to that gear, or something. So my dad said, pretty non-chalantly, "Let's go take a look."
"Okay," I thought, "but I don't know what I can do to check it out."
He raised the hood, and said, "Hmmm. (long pause) Oh I see what the problem is, let me show you."
"Oh no," I thought, "I don't want to learn about how to fix a car, I just need it fixed so I can get back on the highway." I lean in to see what the "problem" is, pretending to be interested.
My dad shows me that he has in fact disabled 2 of my cylinders in my 4 cylinder car and the fact was it wasn't ever going to go more that 35 mph until I graduated from high school. Then he asked, "Do you understand?"
Then he slammed the faded black hood to the cruddy orange car and that's why the fastest car I drove in high school only went 35 mph.
I love you Dad, and miss you all the time.