Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 28 FAMOUS RIDES I HAVE TAKEN – PART 1


When we left our two hapless goons, they were standing in oily snow admiring their lacy, crater-ridden cars. One thing about musicians. Not a damn one of us can drive. Oh, we may think we’re Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti and a couple of Earnhardts thrown in, but we’re not. We suck. Every damn one of us and we have the busted up cars to prove it. If you show me a musician with a nice car, it’s because he or she just drove it off the show room floor. Five minutes ago. I once bought a 2000 Black Cougar Manual 5-speed 6-cylinder, with rack and pinion steering. The hottest thing around. I drove it down the block to Denny’s and ran it into one of those cement poles. The curse was still going.

Anyway, during my driving career, I had exactly 2 new cars; that poor Cougar, which I loved and got into wayyy too much trouble in, and a very good 5-speed Escort, with which I also had a series of adventures in. The most epic of which was our involvement in the No Name Storm. The No Name Storm actually started forming down around Cuba as early as March 2, 1993. I was back in school, married to the pinhead violist who thought I was magically going to turn into a zither player when we wed. When I didn’t, he got all meany-pants about it, so I went back to school and majored in Computer Science. I had spring break at school, starting on March 13, and I decided I would take time off from the symphony and see my mom in Florida (I was in Detroit at the time.) She had been sick.

It would work, time-wise. I had been paying no attention to the weather; I had mid-terms, a concert, a whole bunch of shit to do. I played a Friday night concert, got up early Saturday and headed south on I-75, still not having heard any kind of weather report. Now, if I rightly remember, big snowflakes started coming down around just north of Cincinnati. No biggie. I am not one of those people who are put off by driving in snow. I had my tunes. My giant, brick-sized phone, complete with roaming charges, plenty of food, like a whole car full, drinkies, blankies, Wolf is with me and I got my Algebra books and clothes. I’m good. I have to slow down, a bit. So, I drive 60, instead of my usual 80.

Okay, I’m in Kentucky and there’s more snow, people are driving a lot slower. Shit, I better slow down. It’s also snowing a lot harder, like lots harder. I slow down to about 45. Damn! My mom’s sick. I’m calling her like every 15 minutes, telling her, “yeah, it’s a real blast out here! No, no problem, Ma. I’m coming!” What I don’t know, is they’ve had floods in Florida and people have died. I’ve seen and heard no news, and she’s pretending everything’s swell. So, we’re both lying our pants off.

Traffic is getting erratic. There are more and more people spinning out of control. A semi jackknifes. I creep around a curve and a guy pulling a boat is sprawled across all 3 lanes of I-75. By this time, I’m south of Beria, Kentucky and they’ve closed the roads. I was pulled over by the KHP and I explained that my mother was ill and I had to get to her. The Officer checked out my supplies (I had sand in my trunk too for traction, just in case) and told me if anything happened, my insurance would not cover me. I told him I understood, but must get to her as soon as possible. The Officer let me go on my way. Boat guy caused me to tap my brakes for the 1st time in hours; I plowed into a drift and stalled. I thought I was done. I was able to dig myself out, rev up the car and keep on.

By this time, it’s like a ghost place. The survivors are few. Lights loom up and pass on. It's silent and eerie. One pair of headlights way in the distance get closer and closer until almost tailgating me. I start to sweat. It’s that mad axe murderer guy. I always knew that son of a whore would get me. Sorry, Ma. Time to curl up my toes. Gah. I come up with a plan… Hmm. What if…

I see an exit coming up. By now, we’re hitting top speeds of 10 to 15 miles an hour and we’re avoiding black ice. I’ve driven in bad conditions before and since, but never, never this bad. Visibility is none. So, I put on my right turn signal. Axe guy does, too! Oh no!

I exit I-75, and so does he… (to be continued on Wednesday, for Wednesday Check in)

Ain’t I a Stinker?


 No Name Storm 1993

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