The Day I Met A Damsel In Distress
Let me start out by saying that I don’t go looking for trouble. There are times, though, when I’m sure that trouble comes looking for me. Sometimes, it falls right into my lap. This is one of those times. Let me explain.
It all started when my folks decided to trade in my sedan for a newer car with a full warranty. I was transferring to the University of Arizona, 2,500 miles away, and they didn’t want me to be stuck on the side of the road with a broken-down car. At least, that was what was probably on my mother’s mind. I’m sure that was also a consideration by my father, but I think he thought it might be helpful if his son, who Had left more than two decades of wheelchair use behind, less than six months earlier, had a little help boosting his social life at the new College.
They didn’t tell me they were trading in my car. All they said was that they were going shopping and were going to take my car to the car wash while they were out. I didn’t think anything of it because, at the time, I was following doctor’s orders to remain in bed, due to a severe bout of mononucleosis. I didn’t like being stuck in bed, but the doctor had informed me that he would admit me to the hospital if I didn’t follow his orders. I followed his orders. Anyway, a few hours later, my parents returned with the news that they had traded in my car for a 1974 Moonstone Gray, white Landau roof, bucket seats, pinstriped Dodge Challenger. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t my mother’s first choice, but my dad probably convinced her that all the “guys” would love it and my social life would thrive. Wink.
He was right. All my college buddies loved driving the car. It was a rolling billboard for cool. When you’re in your early twenties, that’s all that matters. I didn’t mind them driving it because I was always driving, and it gave me a break. So on this particular Saturday night, when my buddy Dave and I decided to take in a movie, Dave was the cool guy.
The movie let out around 11:30. We decided to stop by a Circle K to pick up a Sunday paper. Dave walked into the convenience store just as another car was screeching to a halt in the parking space next to us. The driver got out and slammed the door as the car still rocked from the sudden stop. I glanced over and saw a beautiful blonde in the passenger seat. She was crying. It was a warm night, and the windows were down. I asked her if she was okay. Instead of answering me, she got out of the car, crossed in front of her car and headed for mine. I could see she was on a mission.
The Dodge Challenger was a two-door car with very long doors, and a narrow, curved backseat included more for reducing insurance costs than sitting. The back seat removed the sports car premium. I quickly swung the car door open while releasing the back of my seat so I could move forward and give her more room to get in behind me. She had other ideas. She pushed the passenger seat back into position, sat down on my lap, threw her arms around my neck, and began sobbing into my t-shirt. I pulled the door closed.
Dave exited the store, Sunday newspaper in hand, about a minute later. He stopped and stared before getting in the car. I just went in to get a Sunday paper, he said. I was only in the store for a few minutes. Where’d you get the girl? I told him I would explain it all after we got moving. What’s the rush? He replied. I nodded towards the front of the store. My new friend’s muscle-bound boyfriend had just reached the doors and was up to speed. Dave quickly put two and two together, uttered a single word, tossed the Sunday paper onto the backseat, and scrambled to get in the car and turn the key. We peeled out of the parking lot a few seconds before the car previously parked next to us did the same.
We headed down Speedway which, despite its name, had a rather low speed limit. My car could have easily outrun his car, but this wasn’t an action movie. While we frantically searched for a way to elude our pursuer, lady luck played her hand by way of a police car pulling in behind us. We now had a buffer between the punisher and us. We breathed a sigh of relief and began discussing options. That is until our luck ran out. The police car peeled off to answer a call. That’s when I remembered the placard.
The University of Arizona has two entrances, or at least it did when I was there. The North and South entrances had guard gates to stop anyone from driving on campus. In between, there were only a few small parking lots, mainly for maintenance, teachers, and professors. All other cars were required to park in the surrounding off-campus parking lots. There was one exception that was brought up to me by my student advisor upon my arrival on campus. Physically handicapped students qualified for a drive-on parking pass. This made it easier for me to park by the buildings where my classes were being held. I told Dave to head for the North entrance.
We pulled up to the gate and, upon seeing the official placard through the windshield, the guard waved us through. Fortunately, our pursuer wasn’t extended the same courtesy. The campus speed limit was only 15 mph, which gave us plenty of time to work out our next move. From where I was sitting, we had all the time in the world, but Dave was a little more anxious about the entire situation. We tried to convince this beautiful stranger to go to the police. She didn’t want to do that and our combined attempts at reasoning with her couldn’t change her mind. She said that her date wouldn’t bother her or her girlfriend at their apartment. We had our doubts but there was nothing we could do, so we exited through the South entrance and drove her home.
Before getting out of the car, she showed her gratitude for having been rescued by giving me a kiss that took my breath away and, thinking back, may have provided a throat culture. I watched her go into her apartment before looking back in Dave’s direction. He was staring straight ahead. After a few seconds, he turned and said, “Next time, you drive. I get the girl.” Thanks Dad.