I originally shared this story as a comment on another post. After what D$ has been posting over on Clouds in My Coffee, I decided that I needed to share a story of my own. I have taken the original post and updated it just a bit. Again, I offer this disclaimer: This story, like many, truly deserves to be told and not merely written. Furthermore, it should be told by my sister as she brings a unique perspective.
A couple of years before I got married, when I was still in college, I had a date. This was not just a date, mind you, it was a first date. I was supposed to pick up Tiffany Abbott at her home in Enterprise. From there, we were going to go to a wedding in Troy.
I know, I know… a wedding isn’t exactly the ideal setting for a first date, but it was a church member and as a staff member at a small country church, I was expected to be there. After the wedding, we were going to Montgomery for dinner and a nice evening together.
At the time, I drove a 1984 Buick Park Avenue that looked a lot like the one pictured above. I had many affectionate names for this car that would seat 8 comfortably… the land yacht, my little ghetto sled… but I generally referred to it as my Hoopdee. That Saturday afternoon, I washed and waxed the Hoopdee, filled it up with gas, got a shower, and went to pick up Tiffany. (Incidentally, the Hoopdee got about 12 miles per gallon. At today’s gas prices, that is about three miles per dollar.)
The church was about a half hour or so from her house, and we had a pleasant enough conversation on the way there. I was witty and charming, and Tiffany laughed at all the right times. There wasn’t a single bit of that awkward silence that often accompanies first dates.
About halfway to the church, I noticed cute little clouds of smoke seemed to be coming from the rear of my car. Dad has always stressed the importance of watching one’s gauges, so I did. They didn’t show a darn thing.
About two-thirds of the way to the church, the cute white puffs of smoke became great big, black, billowing clouds. I was killing mosquitoes in three counties and doing irreversible harm to the ozone layer. I noticed that the gauges still showed that everything was fine, but even I, the single most mechanically-retarded person you know, could tell that the gauges were obviously missing something important. Where the heck is the Big Black Billowing Cloud Button, anyway?
I pulled over to the side of the road and popped the hood. Sure enough, there it was… an engine. That is about all I could tell… except that it smelled pretty bad. I wasn’t sure what I had done, but I was pretty sure I was going to hear the phrase “burnt up an engine” later that evening from Dad.
Some kind people picked us up and gave us a ride to the church. Everyone I knew in the community was at the church for the wedding anyway, and my parents had gone out of town for the day. I was pretty much stuck until after the wedding.
I sat there during the whole wedding dreading the conversation I was going to have with my father. “Dad, do you remember my car?” “Yes, son.” “Dad… do you remember the engine that used to be in my car?”
Tiffany was great. Throughout the whole wedding, she kept patting me on the hand and telling me that everything was going to be fine. “Don’t worry, Blair. I am sure everything will be okay.”
After the wedding, we walked out the front of the church. One of the my deacons came up to me and told me, “Blair, that man over there is looking for you.” I looked in the direction he was pointing and didn’t recognize the man who was apparently looking for me.
As I walked up to him, he hitched up his overalls as heasked “Are you Blair Andress?”
“Yes, sir,” I replied.
He continued with, “Did you leave a car parked down the road?”
Oh, crap. I knew I had pulled the Hoopdee completely off the road, but somehow or another someone had hit it. Not only had I burnt up an engine, but someone had hit my Hoopdee. Dad was going to kill me.
As soon as I could speak, I told him, “Yes, sir… I left my car down the road.”
“Well, son…. it caught on fire and burnt up.”
It caught on what and did what?
The most intelligent question I could come up with was, “The whole thing? The whole car… burnt up?”
“No, son… just the front half of it.”
We got in this volunteer fireman’s truck, which smelled like a curious combination of fishbait and hot garbage. A spring from the seat was attempting to violate me, and Tiffany and I both had our feet on a tacklebox. As he drove me AND MY DATE back towards the remains of the Hoopdee, all I could do was shake my head numbly.
Tiffany had given up trying to reassure me.
As we got closer, I could see the pillar of smoke. We came over a hill and around a curve, and there she was. The burnt remains of my Hoopdee. The front tires had exploded. The paint had been baked off the entire front half of the car. The front windshield was smoked up and cracked. In short, the Hoopdee had gone out in a blaze of glory.
I ended up borrowing a car from a friend, and I took Tiffany with me back to my parents’ house. My parents weren’t home yet, but I wanted a witness with me. (I felt like Dad would be less likely to kill me if there was someone else around who might be called on to testify.) Once I was home, I called my sister, who lived next door. I tried to explain what had happened, but I struggled to get the words out. She finally figured out what I was talking about and told me to take Tiffany home. I did, and Kim came over to keep me company until my parents came home.
Dad called before they actually made it home, and he could instantly tell something was wrong. When he asked, I told him, “Dad, we’ll talk when you get home.”
“Son, I think you need to tell me now… so get started.”
So I told him. I had just gotten to the part about the white puffs becoming big black clouds, and he interrupted me.
“Crap, son… you burnt up an engine, didn’t you?” he asked loud enough for my sister to hear.
Kim literally fell in the floor as she laughed and told me, “That’s not all you burnt… tell him, Blair… tell him!”
Obviously, Dad didn’t kill me. I assured him that I had kept check on the oil, coolant, and everything else I could possibly check. I convinced him that this was just a freak accident that defied all that we know about mechanical things. He convinced me that white puffs of smoke are bad, even if the gauges say otherwise.
At this point, I have to explain why my sister’s version of this story is so much better than anything I can write. You see, when I had started telling her what had happened, she totally misunderstood. I didn’t know this until years later, but for some reason, she got the impression that I was calling her because I had been on a date and had a horrible sexual experience. I am not sure exactly what she was thinking, but apparently her mind was in the gutter when I kept moaning and saying over and over… “Kim… the Hoopdee burnt! It burnt, Kim… I can’t believe it.” I am not sure what she thought the Hoopdee was, exactly… and I am not sure I want to know.
When I began to tell her that I was scared of how Dad was going to react, she replied, “Now, Blair… you don’t have to tell them everything…”
“Kim, I think he is smart enough to NOTICE!”
“Not necessarily, Blair….”
When she tells this story, she can draw it out forever. People that know Matt and me have a hard time believing it, but she really is the loudest of the three of us, and possibly the most dramatic as well.
For the record… I never went out with Tiffany again.