December 03, 2003

A Tale of Drinking, Driving, Fate, And Airborn Shoes

Back when I was 18, I shared the universal 18-year-old belief that I was somehow invincible. The concept of death and dying were something I didn't understand, or at least were not something I could imagine ever happening to me. I was 18! I knew all! Everyone should bow down to how brilliant and perfect I was!

Shit, I was so stupid.

How stupid was I? Well, for starters, I thought it was kind of a cool idea to drive around in the country with a friend and a case of beer, a pastime known in Southeastern Minnesota as "going on tour." You basically start driving around gravel roads at night, inflict a considerable buzz on yourself, and then try to figure out how the hell to get home when the beer's gone.

Oh, and you talk about stuff.

Well, one winter night, my buddy, Marc, and I started talking about fate. Basically, he said fate was unavoidable, while I said man had control over his own destiny. From there, the dialogue went something like this. . . (keep in mind, being that we were 18 and fairly buzzed up, this constituted a BRILLIANT conversation for us)

MARC: You can't control fate. Every decision you've ever made in your life has dictated where you are right now, but fate dictated those decisions for you. You just THINK you have control over your life, when in fact fate decides your life for you.

ME: That's such a bunch of shit. If fate didn't have anything better to do than to send the two of us on a road tour tonight, then fate is a pretty boring entity. I DECIDED to go on tour tonight, but I could have decided NOT to.

MARC: But you DIDN'T decide not to. Fate made it impossible for you to decide not to.

ME: Listen, if, right now, I decided to drive into the ditch, I could do that. I could DECIDE to do that. Or, I could decide NOT to do that. Fate wouldn't play a role.

MARC: You can't DECIDE to go into the ditch. Fate would dictate that you accidentally go into the ditch, but you couldn't DECIDE to do that.

ME: Oh yeah? Let's test fate then.

So, with a quick twist of the steering wheel, I careened off the gravel road and plopped my '89 Cavalier snuggly into the ditch which, because it was winter, was chock full of snow. Marc, rightly so, labeled me a Grade A dumbfucker. With a few back and forth attempts, followed by laying heavily on the gas, it became quite apparent that we were substantially stuck.

We crawled out of the car and assessed the situation, and we quickly ascertained that the car was, in fact, substantially stuck. We tried pushing the car. We tried pulling on the car. We tried yelling at each other. We tried standing there and drinking a beer and just staring angrily at the car. All to no avail.

One thing was certain, though. In order to free the vehicle, we needed traction. The problem, of course, is that snow is not known for its traction. I put my 18-year-old buzzed up mind to work to try to figure out a solution. The solution I dreamt up was, to put it mildly, brilliant. And by brilliant I mean it was quite possibly the dumbest idea in mankind's sad history of dumb ideas.

I removed my shoes (Nikes, I think), and I stuffed one shoe under each front tire. This, I reasoned, would provide enough traction to free the vehicle if we just gunned the accelerator. Upon watching me, Marc just looked at me as if my brain had somehow just drained out of my ears. Once again, he labeled me, rightly so, a Grade A dumbfucker. But, friend that he was, he offered to be the one to hit the gas.

Marc got back in the car and, with a dramatic "3-2-1" countdown, he pushed the accelerator to the floor.

My shoes flew about 100 yards through the air in a perfect arc, attained a maximum height of about 30 feet, and came to rest in a fairly deep snowbank. The car, on the other hand, didn't move an inch.

I nominated Marc to go retrieve my shoes because, after all, I was only in my socks. He was so angry when he got back with my shoes, the snow practically was melting in a three foot radius around him. The anger, it turned out, worked out for the best because, in an act of strength reminiscent of Hercules, he managed to push my car free while I obediently ran the accelerator. I'm still not sure why I decided to put my shoes under those tires.

Fate, I guess.

Posted by Ryan at December 3, 2003 12:06 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!