HOW I WRECKED MY CAR
Because I shouldn't be, should be, and boy howdy is that a surprise.
Not everybody needs to drive, and some of us are following in our father's footsteps. Dad was a bomber pilot for nearly four years.
And saw quite a bit of action.
Quite a while back I took a wrong turn on the way to Berkeley, and ended up in Moraga, in a desolate area on a sand-road to nowhere. So I turned around and headed out, back to the highway and the free world.
Moraga is the dark side of the moon.
THE LEARNING PROCESS
1. It is not advisable to drive over ninety miles an hour on a dirt-road in the middle of nowhere at twilight.
2. It IS advisable to slow down when coming to a sharp bend.
3. When you do not slow down, your car may turn over several times.
4. And come to a stop upside down.
5. Before slowly starting to slide down the slope.
6. And finally coming to a complete stop in a gravel pit down-hill.
7. Where you have to wrestle yourself out of the passenger-side window.
At this point you may discover several things.
1) You. Are. Still. In. Moraga.
2) Your car used to have corners.
3) Your car now has NO uncracked or unshattered glass.
4) The car-frame is bent.
5) The doors are buggered - one can't open, the other won't close.
6) Your pipe (a black sandblast panel with a taper-stem) is still in your mouth, the tobacco is still lit, and has reached perfect cruising speed - the Turkish leaf is coming into its own.
7) Baruch Hashem!
[The pipe, by the way, was a Drucquer-LaCroix, the tobacco was Drucquer's Trafalgar, which was a Balkan blend, fair amount of Turkish, and enough Latakia to make women and small dogs hate me. These are important details, as Drucquers and the people who worked there were a formative influence; I spent a few happy years over the workbench in the back cleaning up old and second-hand pipes and waxing meerschaums.
I started learning taste and judgement in that period.
And also kneed a co-worker in the groin.]
It was a marvelous voyage of discovery.
I learned things I did not know.
Never stop learning.
Eventually, with the help of some passers by, the car was turned right-side up. It still worked, so I did drive back to Berkeley that evening, pulling to the left the whole time, because due to the frame being severely bent the vehicle veered to the right. The driver-side door would not open, the door on the passenger-side could not close completely; in consequence the alarm went off for the entire drive back.
Which is irritating.
The car was considered a total wreck by the insurance company.
I haven't driven since.
There's a connection there.
A key link, if you will.
BIT OF BACKGROUND
A few years before that, for a family event, my father and his wife, and my uncle and his family, had all come to Berkeley.
So I drove 'em around.
My uncle and aunt got out white as sheets, and didn't ride with me again.
One of my cousins, who had been warned by my uncle and aunt, nearly had hysterics after her turn and needed help getting out.
I shan't mention the reaction of the other cousin. That would be mean.
I am not mean.
My father, when I drove him around, just had this big grin all over his puss. He rode with me several more times after that.
I think he approved of my no-nonsense style of manoeuvring.
Oh, I probably should mention that until he married the woman who a few years later was to become my mother, he had owned several small Italian sportscars and a plane (she made him get rid of the dangerous things).
If I had my life to live all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.
I wish I still had that pipe.
Post-scriptum: Indeed, this recounting has appeared on this blog before, but it seemed like time to mention it again. Partly as it clarifies a few things about my character. And no, I am not older and wiser. Just a little quieter and more restrained. Life is sometimes better when you control your inner viking.
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