“Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid” Was The Clear Message From Her Father

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My failure to immediately remember the “junkier” pickup my dad initially purchased after Ronnie wrecked the 1956 Chevy was the catalyst for trying to remember the automotive line-up available to us through our high school years. Do you realize that was a very long time ago? For the most part, we didn’t drive Mom’s car. The thing of it is, I always had an interest in cars. How could I forget the junkier pickup?

For the first forty years of my life, I was fixated on cars. Even as a kid, I had a pretty good model car collection. You probably remember the plastic models that you both painted and glued together. I had several and I was particular. It was true of the plastic models I put together and it was true of the fantasy cars that were only a dream in my imagination, but they were for real in my head.

Following yesterday’s blog, I had more than one question about the girl (my date) that broke out in tears when I went to pick her up in the truck. What she didn’t know is that we weren’t really going more than a block in the pickup. I drove it as a joke. She obviously needed to lighten up. We were actually double dating with a friend from church whose father was one of the owners of the Buick dealership in Odessa. He had navigated getting the loan of a new Buick Rivera. It was a hot looking expensive car! The year was 1963 and the model had just been released. I don’t even remember the occasion for the date or what “fancy” event we were attending. It obviously merited pulling out the big guns because – Buick Rivera – definitely fell in the category. Truthfully, I was more excited about the car than about the date.

I never had a steady girlfriend before my senior year in high school. I did invite one girl to go to a mutual friend’s birthday party and you would have thought I had just proposed. She had to ask permission from her parents before she could make a commitment. The next day at school she reported that she had asked permission and that her father wanted to meet me first. Fortunately, it was before we had the truck. Can you imagine the reception I would have received from her dad?

My meeting her dad was not a relaxed “come to dinner” and say hello to her dad kind of experience. Thankfully, dinner wasn’t included. It was simply an opportunity for me to have a private conversation with her father. Perhaps you’ve seen any number of variations to “Ten Steps For Dating My Daughter”. Trust me, this guy could have authored any number of them. Perhaps Step Ten comes the closest to describing what I’m talking about:

“Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine”.

Honest to God, I’m not making this up. I got the “if she leaves with you, you are responsible for bringing her home and I’m holding you fully responsible… lecture”. I should have seen it coming, but he also wanted to inspect my car. That’s why I remember I was not driving the “junkier” truck. It would never have passed inspection. The guy actually had the nerve to look under the seats and in the glove compartment of the Chevy. Lesson learned, never ask anyone out if you don’t already know their parents! The risk is too great! As it turned out, the girl’s curfew was 9:00 p.m. I don’t recall that we had a second date.

Moving on to the automotive lineup. Dad didn’t keep the truck very long. I’m not sure where he found it, but he purchased a used Morris Minor Station Wagon. I don’t remember if it was a five speed, but it was a stick shift in the floor. It was a fun car to drive. Actually, Dad didn’t keep that vehicle very long either. I think he had the mindset that “foreign cars” represented trouble in terms of maintenance.

At some point Dad’s brother opted to by a new car and Dad purchased the 1959 ugly brown Chevrolet that belonged to him. It didn’t look anything like any of the “fantasy cars” in my head. The color was bland. However, the car had a lot of pep. I say that. It could have simply felt like it had a lot of pep in contrast to the Morris Minor. The Morris Minor was not the fastest vehicle off the line.

As it turns out, my car stories aren’t nearly as good as the one Ronnie generated. I’m still at a loss for words. I can’t believe he never shared with anyone that the truck was stolen, abandoned in downtown and by happenstance he ran ( I mean walked) across it, got in it and drove it home. He would have been in so much trouble for leaving the keys in the truck. Good for him! I like stories with happy endings.

All My Best!

Don

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2 thoughts on ““Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid” Was The Clear Message From Her Father”

  1. Don,
    After the initial shock of the truck being gone, we figured or at least hoped, you had taken it. Ronnie said you probably were running around with someone, saw the truck, stopped and discovered the keys. Temptation.Skillet Shot. Too good an opportunity to pass up……..brother to brother.
    Just a little while after Putt Putt closed, there was no one else there, just Ronnie and me.
    You are right, we didn’t call anyone because we did not know what to tell your dad. How could we explain that someone just got into it and it drove off.
    Your Dad’s philosophy was to cut everything off at the pass, don’t deal with consequences, just don’t let ’em happen. Leavin’ the keys in the ignition was as high a crime as grand theft auto in his eyes. You just don’t do it.
    We were not setting any records walking those miles, didn’t want to deal with what was waiting on us at the far end of em.
    By the time we made it to Grant Street it was late. Real late. Everything was closed, even the theaters. There was nothing on Grant as far as we could see, no cars, no people, except for this one dark shape.THERE IT WAS…….. parked at the old Rio Theater, with the keys.
    We knew then. without a doubt, it had to be you. Who else would have done such a thing?
    Take it, then leave it where we would find it. That convinced us it had to be you. As I said too good an opportunity to pass up.
    Say anything to anyone? Nope.
    Let sleeping dogs lie and hope your Dad didn’t know.
    If you did not take it, who did? Maybe your Dad did to teach a lesson? He wouldn’t have said anything, just let us think about it.
    A lesson was learned.
    I learned a lot of lessons just watching your Dad. How he lived his life.
    See you on the weekend,
    Wayne

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    1. Dad wouldn’t have taken the truck & he certainly wouldn’t have left it downtown with the keys in it. I guess I should be honored that you guys thought it was me. It wasn’t. Maybe I will get a confession at the EHS reunion. Looking forward to shared time!
      Don

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