One of the things that I spend most of my time with celebrated a big event in her life this week:
Freda Fusion hit 100,000 miles.
Never mind that when we first met she had a mere 52 miles on her transmission and seemed so young and innocent. Freda and I have been through a lot together — 40-mile-one-way commutes, trips to MI, hairy dogs, camping trips.
In honor of Freda’s big day, I decided that it’s about time that I share my most memorable car story:
The day I learned how quick the fire department can respond to a call.
The year was 2002. I was a junior in high school, looking forward to summer vacation and sleeping until noon.
I hate to admit this most of the time, but I was a cheerleader back then. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but I wasn’t the ditzy, giggly cheerleader-type. I joined because my friend wanted me to. And to get into all the football and basketball games for free. And to ride on the bus with my uber-crush. And to maybe get run over by him and then he would finally notice me and confess his undying love for me and then we would live happily ever after the end.
**Sidenote: I was never run over by said uber-crush. He never confessed his undying love for me. But I must say that I am definitely living happily ever after.
Awww…gross, I know.
Anyway, back to the car story.
My parents let me drive their Ford Taurus around and I loved having that freedom. Aside from the fact that I had to share it with my younger brother, I could pretty much go where I wanted when I wanted.
On that fateful night back in 2002, I had cheerleading meeting at school and as luck would have it, my uber-crush was tutoring some kid in the commons area. I decided to stick around a bit longer to
gaze longingly at the genius that was my uber-crush hang around with my friends.
It was getting late and I decided I should probably head home after a less than successful attempt at the love confession. I walked to where my car was parked outside and I was passed by a senior boy carrying a camcorder and running toward the door.
Rae: “What’s going on out there?”
Senior guy: “Dude! Somebody’s car is on fire!!!”
I took off behind the guy, only to come around the corner and see the Taurus in flames.
One thing that is important to know about me in high school is that I wasn’t really a bad kid. I was sometimes painfully shy, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t get knocked up, and didn’t really swear all that often.
But when you see your parents’ car burning in front of your high school, there is only one thing to say:
I threw my keys to the ground, ran up to the car, shook my hands in dismay and screamed. I was screwed. The dean of students flew past me with a fire extinguisher and a dormitory tutor was trying to beat out the flames with a pizza box.
I ran up four flights of stairs to borrow a friend’s cell phone to call my parents. I was so winded that it took a while for my friends to understand what the heck was going on. When I called home, my mom answered:
Rae: “Um, hi. Can I talk to Dad?”
Mom: “What’s going on?”
Rae: “Oh nothing. Can I talk to Dad?”
Mom: “No seriously, what’s going on?”
Rae: sigh “Okay, fine. Um, I’m at school and the car’s on fire.”
Mom: “We’ll be right there. Dad, get in the car!”
I was done for. No more car privileges for me. I might as well cut up my license.
By this point, I was sitting on the curb next to the smoldering car, trying to figure out if I should run away or rub soot on my face to look like I had been through hell trying to save the car. Not screaming and running away like my initial reaction had been.
The fire department showed up and all of the neighbors were out on their porches since it was almost 10:00 PM. The firefighters walked up slowly to survey the scene, looking around to determine why the roof of the car caught on fire and nothing else.
Then they started laughing. That’s when I noticed what I was parked under.
And that’s also when I noticed the twigs on the top of my car.
My parents came tearing around the corner and raced up to the firefighters. They were still laughing when they started to explain what happened to my frantic mom and dad.
It seems that there was some sort of kindling in the streetlight.
And shortly after the light switched on, it looked like this:
Which then fell directly into the center of the Taurus, causing the plastic from the light, nest, and paint of the car to catch fire. The car, after a run through the car wash to remove fire extinguisher dust, looked a little something like this:
And so began the short life of The Cow Car, before it was promptly totaled a few months later by my brother.
Here’s hoping that Freda Fusion doesn’t have quite that eventful of a life. But if she does, I’m praying that she doesn’t go out in flames trying to top the Taurus.