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Sudie Crouch: My experience with Friday Night ‘tail’ Lights
Tail lights
Magnus Ostberg, unsplash

Driving is not something I’ve ever really cared for. 

I only wanted to get my license because all of my friends were driving and my fear of missing out was huge. 

Once I got my license, a year late mind you, I felt like I could check that task off my teenage to-do list and tried my best to get out of driving from then on. 

Sudie Crouch
It didn’t help that my car, an old Chevy with bench seats that was as finicky as a cat, required a cushion for me to see over the steering wheel and it didn’t have a radio. No, if my ride wasn’t going to be cool, I would just ride with my friends. 

Besides, my friend’s had better cars anyway. 

But somehow I got it in my head one night I was going to drive to the football game. 

Don’t ask me why or how, but I was driving and picked up my friend, Tanya, on the way. 

The parking lot was full and the only option we had left was to park in a grassy — and muddy — area near the playground. Cars were piled wherever the drivers could find a space and since there weren’t any streetlights there, it was hard to see. 

“I don’t think you’re going to be able to park here,” Tanya said. 

Tanya was younger than me, but was a far more confident driver than I was. 

“It’ll be fine,” I assured her. 

Tanya shook her head. “I don’t think so. Let’s just go.”

I was appalled at the suggestion. 

Normally, Tanya was trying to drag me out of the house on Friday night to do something, and the one night I had decided to be social, she was trying to get me to leave?

“No,” I insisted. “I’ll be able to get it in here somehow. We’re here. We’re going to the game.”

There were a few reasons why I wanted to go. My friend, Suzanne, was already at the game waiting for us, and our other friend, Meredith, was staying at my house. Mere’s parents were out of town, so she was staying with me so she could see her boyfriend who was home from college. Granny was already there to cramp her style; she didn’t need me playing the third or fourth wheel. 

My car was not exactly small and easy to maneuver as my grandparents seemed to use the terms “American steel” or “closest thing to a small tank” to describe what kind of vehicle they wanted for me. 

It was such an atrocity, the principal thanked me for clearing out the parking lot in the mornings when I arrived. If you ever saw the movie ‘Uncle Buck’ you’ve got a good idea of my car. 

So here I was, trying to commandeer this monstrosity of a car into a cramped place that wasn’t meant to be used as a parking lot — at night, no less. 

I pointed the front towards a space and tried to ease in. There was no way. 

Putting the car in reverse, I tapped the gas and the car lurched backwards directly into another vehicle. 

I said an expletive and Tanya screamed. I looked at her and said “shush” softly. 

I tried to move forward, but you could hear the crunch of glass and metal as I did. 

It was Tanya’s turn to utter some expletives. 

I got out to take a peek at the damage. My car was missing a taillight; the other vehicle had a dent in the fender. 

Out of nowhere, an older gentleman who had witnessed the whole thing approached. 

The first thing he did was ask me how many times I had parked an actual car and if I had had my license long. I told him I had it for a few months. 

He nodded. “You just need to leave. That guy that owned that vehicle looked like he was in a bad mood when he got here.”

So, we did. We left the scene and drove around, Tanya screaming the whole time. 

“Stop!” I begged. “You’re making me more upset.”

“You nearly killed us. We could be dead!”

“We’re fine!”

“We fled the scene of a crime. We’re fugitives!”

“Stop it.”

We drove around town, waiting for the parking lot to clear before we returned to the scene of the crime so we could find Suzanne. “We gotta go,” I told her. 

She took one look at me. “What did you do?” 

As we approached Tanya’s, she didn’t even let me pull in her driveway. “Just slow down. I’ll hop out and run to my house. You may hit something else.” 

From this night forward, her father made me park at the church next door when I came over. 

When I got home, I told a lie. Maybe my only lie to Mama. “I think someone busted out my tail light,” I said. 

Mama stood there, Virginia Slim poised in the air, as she surveyed the damage. 

Meredith’s boyfriend studied the rear of my car and said, “From the angle the glass is broken, and the way it’s dented ever so slightly, it looks like you backed into something. Maybe a Jeep Wrangler?” 

I shot him a look. 

“Of course, someone could have busted it out with a ball bat,” he thankfully changed his tune. After all, I was a gal on the lam, with nothing to lose. 

Tanya refused to ride with me anywhere after that. Meredith, always a little brave, said it was just another adventure. Suzanne said she was just surprised I even passed the driving test. 

As for me, this just proved why I never wanted to go anywhere to begin with. 

My son’s not in any hurry to get his license. He’s just focused on other things right now, and doesn’t seem to care. 

I, for one, am beyond glad. 

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.