Monday, May 16, 2011

My First Ride

My first car was given to me in 1973 by my Dad after I passed a summer Driver’s Ed class at Northeast High School, in St. Petersburg, Florida .  It was a white Chevy with three on the column and a very tight clutch, which was challenging for a 5’, 98lb, 17 year old. 
I drove to St. Pete Beach when the teenage angst became unbearable.  I can still hear Deep Purple blaring from the eight-track.  “Hush, hush, I think I hear her calling my name, now.  Hush, hush, she broke my heart but I love her just the same, now. Nah, nah nah nah, nah nah nah, nah nah nah…”
One particular memory of that first ride still burns brightly.  I had plans to go to Jerry’s Tavern one night.  Jerry's Tavern used to be on 66th St. in St. Petersburg.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  It turns out it wasn’t. 
Back in the 70s, it was becoming less routine and therefore, more exciting each time a bar would let you in underage and without a fake ID.  I was a regular at Jerry’s and had been going to bars for almost a year by then.
I don’t remember what happened at the bar, but I pray I never forget what happened after.  I remember coming to when my car hit the median.  I was jarred awake up when it hit the pole and desperately trying to sober up by the time the police arrived.  There were colored lights, a white car bent around a light pole, lots of people and even more questions.  I told the police I was tired, a half-truth; practice for my future career in alcoholism. 
The police called my father who came to the scene.  It was probably about 1:00 a.m. 
I don’t remember much of the rest of the night or the years that followed.  My father was a salesman and a pretty good one.  I am sure he sold them a great story.  Whether or not they bought it, I will never know, but I do know I did not get a ticket, the car was towed and I never saw it again.
I miss that car.  I miss my innocence.