Tonight my twelve year old son Levi asked, "What is the angriest you have ever been."
Wanting to share a valuable life lesson that I had learned the hard way, I explained to him that when I was younger I had always been mild mannered and quite shy. I tried to avoid confrontation and anger to the point I could have been called a wimp, except one night when I was in high school...
I was one of the youngest in our sophomore class. My classmates had turned sixteen and were driving long before I was licenced to drive. My parents wanted me to contribute gas and a vehicle along with my friends so they allowed me take my dad's red farm truck to the edge of our small rural town as long as I promised to let my trusted friend Shelli drive it after we met up. We had great fun with that truck even though it wasn't the coolest vehicle dragging Main. One redeeming feature of the truck was the powerful spotlight mounted on its hood. We interrupted couples parking in secluded areas with that light and shined it into the cars of other kids driving up and down Main. Good times, good times.
One Friday night while cruising Main we heard that some older kids were having a party out by the river that runs through our town. The river had wooded areas laced with rugged dirt paths. There were small grassy clearings just perfect for parties.
We decided to put a little scare into the party goers. We went to the river and turned on the spotlight and speared its light through the smoke and trees as we approached. Thinking we were the police, under aged drinkers scattered into the trees like a herd of frantic deer chased by a mountain lion. It was awesome! Surprisingly, our humor was not enjoyed by those at the party. He he.
There was a large bonfire and music blaring from speakers mounted in the trunk of a car. A kid named Mark put live lightening bugs in his mouth and blew his cheeks out like Dizzy Gillespie, his cheeks glowed green! He was always a big attraction at river parties. However, we were feeling unappreciated because of our prank so we started back to town.
Dan and Greg, two seniors, wanted a ride into town. Dan opened Shelli's door and shoved her over until he was behind the wheel. He had been drinking. I gathered my weak courage and told him, "No, you can't drive. You can have a ride, but let Shelli drive."
He took off with Shelli and I and his friend Greg all telling him to stop. Dan was going too fast down the gravel road and and about a mile later he drove straight into a ditch and the front end of my dad's truck was crushed.
We were shaken up but no one was injured. We all sat silently for a second, I was angry and in disbelief, it had seemed like he had deliberately driven into the ditch. How was I going to explain this to my dad!
Unfortunately for Dan, I accidentally slammed my thumb in the door as I exited the truck and that triggered an emotion like I had never experienced before. It was a blood boiling rage, my blood literally felt scorching hot coursing through my veins. The heat rushed over my entire body! I came up out of the ditch as Dan came towards me around the back of the truck. He was stuttering and saying, "I, I don't know what happened."
I walked straight into him and slammed him hard with my forearms. He was laid out flat onto his back. I followed him down and started pounding my fists into him like that scene from The Christmas Story movie when Ralphie beats up the school bully. I confess I began spewing curse words just like Ralphie.
Shelli and Greg were stunned. First the accident, now shy, happy-go-lucky Lisa was acting like a person possessed. They eventually pulled me off and Dan ran back to the party to escape my fury.
A passerby saw the accident and called the police. An officer showed up and asked me what was going on. Like an idiot I told him that I had been driving. Dan had been drinking and I stupidly decided to protect him. The officer asked for my licence. I told him I didn't have it with me. He accepted this and took down my name. He didn't give me a ticket. We eventually got the truck out of the ditch with a wrecker and they let me drive it home.
I told my dad that I had driven the truck into the ditch. He was pretty reasonable about the whole thing and that made me feel even more guilty about the truck and my lies. The next day I told my brother Rick that Dan had wrecked the truck. Rick was a senior like Dan and Greg. He said, "You need to tell Dad the truth and maybe I need to teach Dan a lesson."
I mumbled, "You don't have to beat him up, I already did."
Rick questioned me and burst out laughing when I admitted that I had flattened Dan and pounded on him until he ran away. Rick thought this was hilarious.
I told my dad the truth later that day, he asked the police to change the accident report so Dan's insurance would cover the repair costs for his truck. Dan denied that he had been driving and the police said that I had lied once and how were they to know I wasn't lying now.
My dad was stuck with the cost of the repairs because of my lies. I vowed to be completely honest from that moment on, hence that night became a turning point in my life.
Do you remember the Nazareth song 'Hair of the Dog'? After that night my friends would sing it with the words changed a bit. Instead of singing, "Now you're messin' with a son of a b****."
They sang, "Now you're messin' with a daughter of Rich." (My dads name is Rich.)
My brother Rick thought that his little sister beating on his male classmate was great fun. He told all his buddies and they laughed at Dan's expense for weeks which was probably his greatest punishment. I do hope Dan learned as valuable a lesson as I did that night.
So Levi, always be honest, especially to the police and your dear sweet parents. Also if you slam your thumb in the door of your truck, go give someone a serious beat down. It will ease the pain in your thumb.