Once upon a time, there were two little boys whose parents went out of town. These two little boys were not supposed to be driving their parents’ cars. The older little boy put seven hundred miles on his dad’s Benz. Valet key? What?
The younger little boy wanted to take the other car for one last drive. This car was not to be driven either, as the parents of the two little boys were getting ready to sell her. But deep down, how could you part with a glorious, aggressive, original BMW M3? Stocky. Powerful. Grip for days. She all but begged to be driven.
Oh, who am I kidding? In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m the younger little boy. The older little boy is my brother, Gavin. This was not a fairy tale; this was idiocy.
I was traveling west on Clayton Road, approaching Brentwood Boulevard. In St. Louis, it’s an odd intersection. Right in the middle of where it shouldn’t be, there is a cut-through to zoom into an IHOP. While I think it’s goofy, I’ve been known to use it a time or two, because nothing (not even adulthood) gets between me and a smiley-face-double-chocolate pancake.
On this particular day, the traffic was a bit trafficky in the center lane, but the right was smooth sailing. So I cruised into the right lane to continue making my way west. I had to get this candy-apple red blitzkrieg of a car back into the garage one last time after my one last drive of her. I was going to miss Helga.
There is really nothing that quite captures the sound of metal hitting metal at thirty miles-per-hour.
This eastbound lovely couple attempted to get into the IHOP for the early bird special. The westbound center lane had stopped to let them in. There was no one in the right lane, or so the lovely gentleman thought, as he barreled into the cut-through… right into the front of the now heavily damaged BMW M3.
As this thing was built like a Panzer, it was easily drivable home. The future of my life was a little less certain. In fact, I think my brother Gavin actually said, “Dude, just take your life now.” He said this as he left the driveway in my dad’s car (which he was not supposed to be driving).
Pot? Kettle. Nice to meet you.
I tried to think of a way out of this mess. Maybe if I parked it close enough to the wall of the garage, they wouldn’t notice the that the bumper was missing. Maybe if…
I was hosed. I could not talk my way out of this one. Come to think of it, I’ve never been able to do it.
Once when I was six, I watched a soap opera with my mom. The lead baddy had to get rid of evidence, so he turned on a stove burner and simply set the thing on fire. He looked away as it slowly burned before cutting to commercial. I thought it looked pretty neat.
I had no idea that there was a crew member with a fire extinguisher ready for when the director yelled, “Cut!” to put it out.
I really could have used that crew member’s help as I realized there was no easy way to put out my now fully engulfed sheet of paper.
Where can I put this? Where can I put this? Oh yeah! The plastic trash can! Perfect!
My mother yelled, “What’s that smell?”
Thinking quickly, I yelled back, “Someone burned rubber down the street, mom!”
I have no idea why she didn’t believe me, but running into the kitchen to see a full-on trash fire was probably not what she expected. I never will forget that scream.
I had not thought about that story in well over a decade, but it came flooding back to me two days ago. My dear friend Amy is working on an amazing story about a navy pilot who died in the most tragic of circumstances. She had the opportunity to record his parents, and she needed professional audio. As this is partially what I do for a living, we went out to their house.
I will not say anything about the story, other than to say that it is beyond belief how many tiny miracles surround it. It’s Amy’s story to tell, and I’m not going to spoil it for you. But the one thing I will share with you is something that Glen, the pilot’s dad, said almost in passing.
So they told me that he had gone down in a helicopter, and I said, ‘Oh, thank God, you’ve got the wrong house.’ Because my son didn’t fly helicopters. And you always try to talk your way out of something. Couldn’t have been my son. Didn’t fly helicopters. You look for an out. Only… they didn’t have the wrong house… just the wrong aircraft.
And what he said hit me so hard. I know I said it to myself when I was told I had testicular cancer. “It can’t be. It has to be something else. It’s indigestion. Or constipation. Why, I don’t even have tes…”
And then it hits you. It’s clear. Life is life. Cancer is cancer. The fact that you have it is indisputable. The “talking your way out of it” comes in the treatment, itself.
Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m a fool, but I still do it to this day. Two weeks ago, I saw a picture of my friend Ed Heigl on Facebook. For those of you who attended our 5K run last November, Ed was the man who ran it holding the American flag.
He had battled a very aggressive cancer for a long time, and this Facebook picture showed that while the cancer hadn’t taken him yet, is was only a matter of a very short period of time.
And yet, when I saw that picture, I kept saying, “He’s still with us. It hasn’t gotten him yet. A miracle might save him.”
At 1:30pm yesterday, God called him home. As I read of his death, Glen’s words echoed in my head. “You always try to talk your way out of it.”
But like every time in my life, I was not able to talk my way out of it.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever learn that I can’t talk my way out of things. Maybe it’s the optimist in me. Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe I’ve lost a little touch with reality. Whatever the case, I still believe in miracles, even though they so rarely happen.
But I’m living proof that they exist. When my parents got home from their trip, I knew they would be apoplectic over the heavily damaged BMW that I was not supposed to be driving. Do you know what saved me, and what always saves me?
Mom and Dad, I know I wasn’t supposed to have the car. But I drove it anyway. And I was broadsided by a couple in a very large Lincoln. And we have worked out that they were at fault, their insurance is paying for everything, and the car is being towed in two days and will be back to new in two weeks.
They were so flummoxed and impressed that they haven’t brought the incident up since.
Of course, now that they’re reading this, I may have just re-hosed myself.