Blame it entirely on teenage infatuation. I was, at the time, 17 years old and more than a little interested in my nephew Matt’s basketball coach (with whom I later had a brief fling, but that is another story). So, on this particular day, as I headed for my car (a brand new Mustang Grande—green, with a white roof—that my parents had given to me for my 16th birthday), I was excited about going to the game. I saw the entire day as yet another opportunity to see Bob. I’m quite sure that I was wearing my then-auburn hair long and loose, too much make-up, too-tight pants, and enough perfume to choke your average asthmatic to an untimely death.
Now, you have to picture the “parking lot” at my parents’ home. It was semi-circular, with tall pampas grass bordering the front of it, and we all normally parked in a row. No one, and I mean no one, ever parked behind the line of other parked cars, where the pathway led to the house. So, of course, none of us ever looked behind us as we backed out. We swung our cars to the left, confident that there was nothing behind us but bare land. And that is exactly what I did—perfectly innocent and within my rights as a driver in that particular parking lot.
Then I heard the sickening “CRUNCH.” You know the one—the sound of metal on metal that can’t possibly be mistaken for anything else. I paused for a moment, not at all sure what had happened, and then looked in my rear-view mirror. I saw two things simultaneously: my father’s car, the company car nonetheless, with the driver’s side door swinging precariously, left, right (once), left, right (twice), and left, right (three times)—before it fell off entirely. I also saw my father standing at the picture window, screaming something that, God be praised, I couldn’t hear, and gesticulating wildly. He had unexplainably and unforgivably (on my view) parked behind my car in no-man’s-land. I watched the scene unfold for about 5 seconds, and then I threw my car into drive and hit the gas. I was not sticking around to face the consequences and, besides, if I dealt with the problem at hand, I would miss seeing Bob. And that, I hate to confess, was my true motivation for fleeing the scene.
As I later heard the story from my mother, my father was so shocked that I had hit his car and then run from the scene that he sat with Manhattan after Manhattan in hand, constantly repeating the words, “I can’t believe she left.” My mother, dutifully trying to appear interested, just kept replying, “Yes, dear, she left.” God again be praised, there were no cell phones in those days, so he could not call me and scream, or reach me in any other manner. I was simply gone; a very simple case of hit and run. But, I could not shake the mental image of my father, wild-eyed and incredulous, waving his hands and jumping up and down in the window. It makes me shudder to this day.
Well, clearly, I had to return home at some point (although I considered moving in with one of my sisters). As it turns out, my father was waiting up for me. But, due to his drunken haze and the time that had elapsed since the unfortunate incident, he was in a rather jolly mood. He told me that I was wise to flee, since he would have killed me on the spot if I had remained there. Then, he regaled me over and over with the embarrassment that he endured having to call the insurance company and explain that, yes, he was both the victim and the perpetrator (my car was insured on his policy, though I take great pride in having paid my own insurance premiums—okay, so I had the money from an inheritance, but who’s counting?). All I know is that he let me live and that he did not take my car away, both entirely unexpected consequences. I don’t know how he explained all of this to his company, but, somehow, magically as I saw it, he got a new door on his car and, as for my car, there was not a scratch. Good old 1972 Mustang Grande’s.