optimum match, 9000 words, short coming of age story
yes I know it violates the 3000 word rule but there has been so little here lately I didn't think anyone would mind.
this is a coming of age story that comes to a logical 'end' but doesn't really end. this is also most likely as far as I will ever take the story.
It was the first class of the day on the first day of my junior year of high school.
The class was called to order. We were told to take a seat and fill out the test, on the desk, as best we could. There would be no talking and no questions or the ones talking would stay after class and do the test again and questions would not be answered. They cautioned that we had 90 minutes if we finished early we were to sit quietly or they would repeat the process as many times as necessary, with different test until we all had taken the test without talking to anyone.
It wasn’t a problem for me I’m a quiet person. However it was a problem for a lot of the students. Some students just have to ask questions and generally the smarter of the students or at least the ones with the better grades ask a lot of questions. Some of them can lay it on thick and get the teachers to cut them a lot of slack or virtually do the work for them. We lost six of the 73 students in the first five minutes because they just couldn’t follow instructions.
It settled down for a while. We lost two more, a bad boy and a jock, to an actual fist fight in the back of the room. Then Tom and Betty just had to talk to one another and they got to leave the room to continue their conversation. Now you’d think by this time the rest of us would have figured out that this was no joke and they meant business. But three of the jocks got to talking about who was going to try out for what position - out they went.
When the 90 minutes were up there were 54 students in the room.
The test itself was not a real test. It was a series of question about who we were and what we expected out of life.
They were not strange or personal questions, unless you consider revealing the last book you started and finished or the last one you started and then tossed in the trash. It also included your movie, net, cell phone, and TV viewing habits. I don’t have a cell phone and prefer books so at the end of the 90 minutes… we handed the test in and that was that. We went sent to the study hall and then were released for 90 minutes as the others went back into the room to take the test, again. We were told not to leave the campus.
Some of the questions on the test continued to pop into my mind, like which student in your class would you most like to see if your car broke down on the side of the road? Or which student would you most like to be on your team and answer the last question for ten points on a quiz show where your team was behind five points?
The answer to the quiz was easy, Herald Miller. He’s on my academic team. The question about the car I really had no idea. The only name that popped to mind was James Dysion although most people call him Iceman. He races cars, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards and just about everything with wheels as often as possible.
It asked your opinion about the most musical and best dancer of your peers. It asked a lot of questions like that. They were all opinion questions.
Some of the questions that require estimates were; what is the class GPA. It then asked me to put the classmates I had named into either the top 10 percent of the class considering GPA or the bottom. It also allowed me to put them in the mid 80 percent.
I put Herald in the top ten and James in the bottom. I know Herald and I know he’s smart. James I don’t know and don’t want to. He misses school a lot. He sullen and just doesn’t seem to like things that are not mechanical. I bet you have to be smart to work on cars and things but I’m not sure he has a GPA.
The hardest questions on the test were who do you think is most likely to succeed socially in life and who will be monetarily successful. It went on to ask about politically successful, and just about every other possible way of measuring success. Those were hard questions for me; but I did answer them.
The question ‘who will have a happy life’ throw me. If you’re successful aren’t you happy. The answer, once ask, was obvious, no. Success does not necessary make you happy.
As much as it galled me I left that question blank. I had no formula to come to an answer. I wasn’t even sure what a happy life would be for me much less anyone in my class. The answer came to me in the scream of a high torch starter and the roar of an under-exhausted corvette. James was laughing so loud I could hear him over the noise.
Happiness is doing what you love.
What do I love?
What do I love? I don’t think I’ll include people or animals in this. This is about things I like or love to do.
It’s not really a question I have asked myself. Should it be a question or should I just know? I don’t?
I like to study and learn things. I like to be the smartest person in the room, I like to do a lot of things but do I love them.
Is reading about something more enjoyable than doing it? I don’t know; I’ve never done it. Maybe it’s time I did.
I decided to date, get out in the world and find out.
Dating is just not that easy
Herald is the obvious choice, I don’t think of him as a possible life mate but we have a lot of the same interest. This could just be a nice experience and no one will get hurt.
I tried for the next two weeks to get Herald to ask me out - it just didn’t happen. I thought for a while ‘if I could just lose a few more pounds’ he would ask me out. I didn’t ingest anything but water and vitamins for two weeks. I lost ten pounds but I still weigh almost 130 but I’m 5’10” so I’m not heavy. I tried wearing heels so I would look better but I was taller than him at that point (and the other kids laughed at me). I finally asked him out. He ran the other way faster that I have ever seen anything move.
I guess I just go back to my books.
Thursday I was getting some beloved books out of my locker, to go to a math class. Math, I understand math and it has nothing to do with interpersonal relationships. Someone leaned on the locker next to mine and I looked up to see who it was. He startled me as he smiled. I waited for the demon to spoke, and he did “You know why he won’t ask you out don’t you?”
Why was Iceman talking to me?
I ignored him. He didn’t leave. He just kept talking. “You’re smarter than he is and guys like that dream of some cheer leader with big tits sucking him down to a nub.”
I stared at him as the tears started to form in my eyes. How could he say such a thing? I turned and started to walk away. He yelled, “Hey if I said something wrong, I’m sorry. I have a bad habit of telling the truth as I see it.” I yelled back “Leave me alone.” He yelled that it was just easiest in life to face the truth and get on with it.
I was crying when I went in the restroom. My friend Judy saw me and followed me. She asked what was wrong. I told her Iceman was just very mean to me.
She looked at me shocked “Iceman TALKS? And he talked to you.”
I told her “Yes and he said I was fat and undesirable.”
She seemed freaked out. “Iceman said that.”
I told her he did. “Don’t you believe me?”
She told me if I said it then she believed me but her brother had dealings with him and while he was crude it just didn’t sound like the guy she had met and overheard talking. We went to class after that. As we walked she talked me into spending the night with her Friday night. There is a marathon of some TV series she wants me to watch. The books were good so maybe the series will be too.
I put Iceman out of my head.
As it turned out the series wasn’t that bad although it did leave the premise of the books and went out all by itself about the third or fourth episode.
Judy and I planned to go to the mall Saturday afternoon. We didn’t get to bed until three A M Saturday morning. The phone woke us about ten A M Saturday morning. The garage was getting busy and her dad needed her to run the register and do some paperwork for a couple of hours. Of course I had little choice but to go with her. She has a nice little pickup she is allowed to use and so she drove us down.
It was the first time I had ever been to their garage. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It has eight bays and a dozen mechanics working. I enjoyed being at the garage it was exciting with all the action seemingly happening all at the same time. I helped stock some oil and other stuff to the shelves. She told me to stock it by brand and weight but it seemed to me, and said on the label, all the bottles weighted the same.
It was about one-thirty when Judy’s Dad told her she could go if she wanted. She could also use the truck if she wanted. She was ready and we were about to leave when Ryan, a band nerd, showed up. He came right over to Judy and asked if she had thought about going to; maybe the movies with him tonight. I could tell by the look on her face she really didn’t want to go.
Did she just tell him no – no she told him I was spending the night with her and she couldn’t leave me alone. He seemed flustered. We just stood there for a while and then he said. “Maybe I could get Francine a date.”
I told him my name was Pat.
I don’t know Ryan very well, but I do know his name, the only other thing I can tell you is he is one of the drummers in the school band and he is about as popular as Judy and I are. Well we were stuck, unless Judy was just going to tell him she wasn’t interested.
She hum-hawed around for a few minutes before she just told him what she thought; “I don’t want to see that horror movie. I’d like to go out with you but not to that movie.”
He smiled, “Oh! Well maybe we could find something else.” He thought for a second “How about a party? The band is having one tonight at Lionel’s house?”
I thought I was out of the mix but Judy told him she didn’t want to go to any wild party either. He told her it wasn’t going to be a wild party. Lionel’s parents will be there and there will not be anything stronger than root beer. She told him she would go.
He nodded and looked at me “Now I need to get you a date.” I looked at Judy wondering if I was still going now that she had settled her problem with going out with Ryan. She just said “Yes you have to get Pat a date.”
He was thinking and I was giving Judy the evil eye, I didn’t want to go to this party. Ryan was just standing there. He said sort of sadly. “I don’t know anyone.” Judy asked if he couldn’t think of anyone that had ever showed an interest in me. He just shook his head.
The big motorcycle roared in about that time and Iceman got off. Ryan said softly. “I just remembered someone who said they would like to go out with you.”
Judy said “Who.”
I snapped “You have got to be kidding!”
Ryan said, “I don’t know him that well but…”
Judy sort of laughed and told him to talk to him and find out.
He asked us if we were sure – “He’s sort of a rough guy.” I asked if he was talking about Iceman just to be sure and he nodded a ‘yes’.
Judy asked what he said about me and Ryan said softly, “I overheard him in gym talking to one of his hot rod buddies. He said you were a classic but could use a coat of paint.” I had no idea what that meant and neither did either of my companions.
Judy told him to go ahead and ask. I did want to date and I wanted it to be someone I could never care about so this wasn’t a bad start. He is crude but I’ve never seen him fight and Judy says her brother says he’s a nice guy so…
Ryan went to ask Iceman. Judy grabbed my arm and pulled me the other way. I asked where we were going and she told me we had to find her brother. He was changing the brakes, I think, on a truck and she just walked right out on the floor of the shop – you know right past the sign that says if you don’t work here don’t go out on the floor. He noticed us as soon as we were close. He asked what she was doing on the floor and she told him she needed to know something. He told her to get to it. She asked “What does it mean when a guy says you’re a classic but could use a coat of paint.”
He stopped what he was doing and asked “a car or a person?”
She told him a person, “What does it mean when you’re talking about a person?”
He seemed lost “Well if it’s a car guy saying it; I would take it to mean that it was a beautiful car but could use some updates.”
I was still lost but highly influenced by the use of the word beautiful. I did wonder what updates he had in mind.
We went back to find Ryan, we were only slightly less confused than before. And we were not half as confused as Ryan. He told a story of how Iceman was not interested in dating until he mentioned it was me, Pat Cramer. “He jumped at the chance.”
Judy laughed, “You’ve got an admirer girl.”
The disbelief just slipped out of my mouth “Iceman?”
Judy laughed “Yeah Iceman.”
It all came together somehow and Iceman and Ryan are going to pick Judy and me up at her house at six thirty. I asked Ryan why so early and he told me that there would just be snacks at the party and so we should get something to eat before.
Now, this is my first real date and I’m not sure I even like the guy; but I think I want to look nice for the date. I think I can manage, I mean it’s a sort of nerd school band party and I will fit. But – how do you say this - I was on a cloud – no that’s not it but; it was like I had nothing tangible around me. I was sort of floating. I have no reference point for this reality.
Judy and I were at the mall looking in all the stores at the clothes. I was even looking at the more unique things that more flashy people wear. We were sort of making fun of them. It was that stuff that sort of looks like leather but is really sort of stretchy. The flashy hotrod girls were sort of looking at it too and one of them picked up a pair of pink leathery stretch pants. She went to try them on and when she returned for her friend to see the friend said. “Now that is a nice coat of paint.”
Judy and I just looked at each other. Apparently a coat of paint when talking about a person is very tight and colorful clothing that looks to be painted on.
I looked down at my khaki pants and oversized T-shirt. “Judy do you think I’m dowdy?”
She raised her eyebrows and nodded, “Yep.”
I was hurt, “Judy.”
She just shrugged, “You asked.”
I was never so self-conscious in my life. I couldn’t keep my mind off it. I needed a new coat of paint or at least a good coat of primer.
The reality was I had no money that I was going to spend on new clothes, that I may never wear again, and no time to get some from my parents. I was stuck. Judy and I made a lot of calls that afternoon to people we sort of knew that might be going to this party. My wardrobe limited me to a yellow shift that I thought was to short; mid-thigh is just not my thing. I was not going to have all my fish belly white legs hanging out like that so I put on a pair of gold sparkly legging that I wore in a play two years ago when I played a unicorn. They were a little loose back then - not so now. They look like I painted them on. I smiled. I needed shoes to go with the dress and Judy had a pair of yellow flats that were a little small. I thought about wearing my heels – Iceman is tall. We cleaned up the flats and they will have to do. Judy told me we had time to dye my hair but I told her no. Judy was wearing about the same outfit I was, but her basic color was black.
I thought the Bambi eyes were a little much but Judy insisted that they were ‘all the rave’. I think I look like a raccoon. I just brushed my dark hair out like I always do – it comes just past my shoulders. We were ready –
It was four thirty.
At six thirty the – I didn’t know what the car was, but it was long and low and a convertible. Iceman was wearing clean, ‘blue’ blue jeans and a black leather blazer with a light blue button up shirt. He had shaved off the nasty multi-day growth he had this afternoon leaving the large set of ‘muttonchops’ sideburns, he’s been growing for a while, and his hair was nicely combed. He was gorgeous and I’m getting very nervous – I could very easy like the person I’m seeing - but he’s crude and that is a deal breaker.
They walked toward the door and we went out to meet them. We all walked back to the car and the boys opened the doors for us. “I’ve never seen a convertible with four doors before.”
He told me it was 64 Lincoln and belonged to his dad. It’s a beautiful car. I got in the front with – I think I’ll call him James now, you know the Jeckle-Hyde deal, and Judy got in the back with Ryan. This was feeling sort of great.
I had asked Judy what we could expect for dinner and she wasn’t sure. Ryan seems to have some money and so does Iceman - James, so we just were not sure. Our hopes was a nice sit-down restaurant with a waitresses but if it was serve yourself pizza then it would have to do.
The party started at eight and so we had an hour and a half to get dinner. We headed down Dewie Boulevard. I looked back at Judy and mouthed ‘restaurant’. She smiled and nodded. We drove right by all the restaurants and I was lost the only other restaurant out this was – oh god – Gregory’s. Not a chance, we’re talking reservations, and big bucks. Dad takes mom out there on their anniversary.
I looked back at Judy as we turned into Gregory’s. She was just shaking her head in disbelieve. James stopped the Lincoln and a guy was right there opening the door, “Good evening Mr. Dysion. How are you today sir?”
He smiled, “Good, thank you?”
The attendant then opened the door for Judy and me. He spoke to Ryan. “How are you today Mr. Wilson?”
Judy smiled and whispered to me “What have we stepped in.”
I laughed, “I don’t know but I sort of like it.”
She smiled “me too.”
The scene inside was just as outrageous. We had a reservation and were seated quickly. James asked me if I liked grape juice and I told him I did. I didn’t know why but I soon found out, it was served just like wine with our filet Mignon. James even speaks some French. God I wish I had a better paint job. And, damn it, I’m starting to like him.
We had a really good dinner, including cherries jubilee with sparkling apple juice for desert. They even set them on fire. It was great. James paid for the meal with a credit card which included a large tip. I think it was a hundred dollars tip although I couldn‘t really see.
The Lincoln was just being pulled up to the door when we got there. Ryan tipped the man a twenty.
The band party was not near as elaborate. I was dressed just find but James had been looking at me close and as we danced he smiled and I ask what was wrong. He smiled, “If I told you I didn’t like those Bambi eye would you get mad?”
I should have gotten mad, what right does he have trashing my eyes - but it was the first sort of mean thing he had said tonight.
I smiled “I don’t like them either.”
He smiled, “If I sang a song about them would you get mad.”
He nodded “some say so.”
I asked if I would be embarrassed. He told me he liked what was under all that new nice paint better that he liked the new war paint on my face. He said he thought it was a funny song although it could be taken as mean. I told him to go ahead he wouldn’t make me mad. I’m starting to like James. I do wish I was dating someone I couldn’t care about but… I like James.
This being a band party and there were all kinds of instruments and when the song we were dancing to ended James excused himself. He went over and talked to Ryan and soon there were several people picking up instruments. Have you ever heard the song War Paint by Barry Mann – give it a listen.
I went to wash my face. Judy went with me. When we got back James kissed my fore head. “That’s better.”
I told him “If I didn’t agreed I’d be really, really angry.”
Now by geek standards, we really rocked out the rest of the night. I never danced so much. Those yellow shoes started to hurt my feet so I just kicked them off and danced. The slow dances were the weirdest, I really like James. And I think Ryan is doing ok with Judy too.
I kissed James when he took us home. First date or not I kissed him. He said he could have not hoped for a nicer evening. I agreed and we kissed again. Judy yelled that she was going to turn the hose on us and he smiled. “Do you want to go to the drag race tomorrow?”
The drag races – why would I want to go to the drag races? “Yeah I want to go.” He told me he would pick me up at my house about noon – if that was alright. It told him he might want to come a little early because I wanted him to meet my parents.
It was at that moment I realize I was still hugging him. He smiled, “You know normally if a girl said such a think I would be long gone. But my family will be at the races so I guess I can meet yours.”
I was still smiling, “Ok see you tomorrow.” We kissed again and Judy turned the hose on us. We laughed, “See you tomorrow.”
Inside I told Judy I was hopelessly in love. She smiled. “It looks good on ya.” I asked her how she felt about Ryan as we went inside. She told me she wasn’t as far gone as I was but he was a lot more than she counted on.
We were up early Sunday morning Judy took me home. She was going to church and I wasn’t. I was a nervous wreck. I looked through my clothes and I had nothing to wear. Mom came up to see why I was throwing things and asked me what was wrong, I told her I didn’t have anything to wear. She asked me where I was going. I told her “the drag races.”
“I going to the drag races.”
Things just sort of stopped at that point and she asked me how my date went. I told her all about my date and how very much I enjoyed it. She laughed and told me I should try to calm down because chances were I would kiss a lot more boys before I found Mr. Right. I told her if James wasn’t Mr. Right then there wasn’t a Mr. Right.
James came by at 11:30. He brought me a pair of coverall with the Dysion racing logo to wear. They were very nice paint and very tight for coveralls. I asked him if he thought I looked fat and he was crude with my parents standing right there he said “only in the right places.” We left soon after.
The drag races were strange but no more strange than any other new world a stranger would enter. He had a lot of work to do and so I was sort of on my own until the races started and then he would have more time for me. I watched as the cars rocketed down the track making test runs.
It had been about an hour when he came over. He told me he had to change out a tranny but didn’t want me to be bored so I could do some heads up racing in a street car he had if I wanted.
I needed more information. He told me he had watched me drive and believed I could handle the car. The car, according to him, was a 70 Camero fuel injected 400 and it would run about 104 miles per hour in a quarter at just over 13 sec. It depended on the driver.
I first turned him down. He told me that the people I would be racing didn’t know any more about racing than I did and it would be fun. Now the real races hadn’t started but the street cars that were coming in were trying to get labeled. You run down the track and try to get close to the same time for three runs. It cost ten bucks for the first set of five and ten bucks for each run after that. It can take ten or a lot more runs to get it right between a car and a new driver. That’s what I’m told. Anyway James was paying and so I was going to try it. The first time down the track you run alone - it’s called a maiden run. The main reason is so you don’t run over the guy you’re racing when you slam the gas pedal to the floor.
I drive a GEO so I was not in any way prepared for the acceleration of the Camaro the first run.
I was scared to death to even try the second time. But, James explained the tree and then left me to it. He had work to do.
Like I said I didn’t do too well on my maiden run. I went through the blocks at only 84 miles per hour, we won’t talk about the time. I’m proud to say I stayed on my side of the track. James had paid for ten runs and I made ten runs. I was told the Camaro was going to be labeled, sorry, dialed in, at 101 mph at 13.61. I think what that means is if I go faster than that then I will be disqualified. I talked to James and he advised that I dial it in at 104 at 13.02. I may not win but I will not be disqualified for going too fast and my reaction time was getting a lot better on the last of the ten runs.
I had to show my street driver license and sign a waiver then they put it in a little case with my track permit. “Wow double wow.” This is fun.
James came over and I hugged him. “I have a track permit.” He smiled, “Do you want to run the Camaro?”
I sort of bit my lower lip and couldn’t think of one single reason why not. I told him “Yes!”
I didn’t win of course but I made it to the quarter finals and got a little trophy. It’s really great. Mr. Dysion was very impressed with my consistency.
James or the Iceman in this case was running a super stock modified Dodge. I wonder if he’ll let me take it down the track after the races are over.
Like I said before, this is my first time at the track and I didn’t know that there is all kind of black stuff floating around in the air – thus gathering around my goggles. So I just had them pushed up on my head after I was finished.
When James saw me he started to laugh. The story was told of my Bambi eyes from the night before and now my negative of those where my face is sort of black and not my eyes. The people in James’ crew started to call me Bandit.
After the races were over I talked James into letting me take the super stock down the track. He said the motor needed rebuilt anyway and he thought I could make the run without wrecking it.
I watched the tree and tried very hard to hit the gas at just the right time. You don’t have time to think - that car is so fast. It spin a little sideways and I herded it back in. I had never had so much fun. This is what life is all about – fun.
I took the car back to the pits and got out just as quick as I could. I was jumping and yelling. Jeff, one of the pit guys said I was hooked and he really enjoyed “watching Bandit run.” I’m pretty sure he was talking about my backside and not the car I was driving. I was told later it was from a movie – I think I’ll get a copy and watch it.
It was just after dark before we were loaded and ready to move the racers back to the barn. I rode in the back seat of the truck with James on the way to the barn. His parents were in the front; his dad was driving. I guess I was still all wound up and we talked about racing all the way home. His mother couldn’t remember my name so she kept calling me Bandit. The barn is an actual barn at James’ parents’ house. It a big barn and has fourteen race cars in it.
I called mom because I had been gone a lot longer than I told her I expected. We had a big barbeque dinner and most of the pit crew was there. I answered to Bandit more than once.
I got home about eleven and I figured I would be in trouble for being out so late on a Sunday night but somehow it just didn’t matter. James and I sat in the swing on the porch for a while and talked. I do mean talked with a kiss or two in the mix.
I asked him why he had gone out with me. He smiled, “Well I was going to ask about your brother’s mustang to break the ice and ask you out but you got mad at me because – I don’t know why.”
I smiled, “I don’t remember either.”
He asked if I was mad at him why I had agreed to go out with him Saturday. I didn’t have a real answer so I used Judy. I smiled, “You still didn’t say why you were trying to break the ice to ask me out.”
He is a blunt kind of guy. “OK - Because you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.”
I don’t know where the words came from they were just suddenly out of my mouth. “You haven’t looked in the mirror lately have you?” I was so embarrassed. “God that sounded so cheesy.”
He laughed, “I think I like cheesy.” We were both laughing when mom came out on the porch to tell me it was way passed time for me to be in the house. We had been sitting there for almost an hour just talking.
I kissed him good night and he left. I went in the house. Mom was just inside the door. I just smiled at her, “Mom how did this happen so fast.” She got a strange look on her face like I had just taken all of her angry away and it had been replaced with a lot of concern. I told her, “I’m in love.”
That led to a long discussion about my weekend and Gregory’s and the party and the race and his parents and the barbeque.”
When she yawned I realized I had been talking nonstop for another hour. It was one o’clock. We decided to go to bed and talk about it tomorrow.
I actually dream about drag racing, East bound and down just to watch ol’ bandit run.
Mornings are something I really look forward to, Mom always cooks a big breakfast. I usually don’t eat lunch until mid-afternoon. My phone rang at seven it was James. He wanted to know if I needed a ride to school and I told him I did. I also asked him to come by early, in about a half hour for breakfast. To my surprise he agreed.
I usually get to the kitchen about 7:30 on school days. At 7:15 I walked into the kitchen, mom looked at the clock and told me I was a little early. I smiled “I invited James over for breakfast; is that alright?”
She smiled. “Yes, your father and I would love to get to know him a little better.”
Breakfast went really well considering that this was the first boy I had ever invited over and I had just started to date him two days ago. As I think about it I believe it went so well because everyone was in shock.
I have a brother that is in his second year of college. He plans to go to med school. The Mustang James wanted to talk about is behind the garage. It’s a 66 fastback and that is about all, my brother wrecked it and I think it should have went to salvage because it’s really messed up.
We had some time after breakfast so James and I went out to have a look at it. He looked close showing me what he saw including a very possible bent frame or under-pan, a mustang doesn’t really have a frame. I asked if than meant it was just junk. He told me it wasn’t junk but it did mean it would cost more to fix it than it would ever be worth. I asked what he would do with the car. He told me he would build a new frame and put the body on the track.
I asked how much something like that would cost. He smiled, “I guess you don’t want to sell the car?” I told him it belonged to my brother and he planned to fix it when he got through med school; a doctor makes a lot of money.
He walked around the car again. He said. “We could make a pretty nice street hero out of it for about five grand.”
I asked “What’s a street hero?”
He told me a car like the Camaro I had raced on Sunday. I smiled, “I have two grand and the Geo I could trade.”
He laughed, “We have to get to school; and call your brother before we go down that road. He hugged me and we kissed before we left for school. He was driving his white corvette. It’s a standard shift – six forward gears. I don’t think I could ever go back to driving the Geo anyway it just to slow. I asked if the Corvette was a race car and he told me it was a ‘Rabbit’. I of course didn’t know what that was, he told me it was a car that was built to be very fast on the run. He told me he had the vette to 214 MPH. My mouth watered “I want to do that.”
He laughed “Let’s let you get some more practice under your belt before we do that.”
I nodded “ok.”
School was, different
It had been a different weekend for me. What I didn’t realize was it had also changed the prospective of the kids toward me. To the band nerds I was the second coolest person at their party and Iceman, my date, was the first.
I just had a lot of fun at the track. But there too I had crossed paths with some of the kids I went to school with and I was with Iceman and running the Camaro. I dragged some stuff out of the back of my closet this morning, I may not have flashy paint yet but I have a very good coat of primer compared to that dowdy stuff I was wearing. The clothes I’m wearing was too tight for me a day or two ago. Strange.
It wasn’t until second hour that I noticed that James and I were in everybody’s face. We were and item. The band people would talk to me when they passed. They called Judy, Bambi. I was Bandit. Did you ever wonder how some kids get nick names? I bet that it is almost always as mundane as the reasons we got ours. I think I’ll ask Iceman.
I had been asking James all day to let me drive the vette. He didn’t want to but when school was out he told me he would take me out to his house. “I has some go carts and a track where we can play. If you can handle the carts I might let you drive the vette."
We went by my house and told mom where I was going. She told me to be careful and I knew she was not talking solely about driving the carts.
The dirt track was something he called a roll course with two miles of track stuffed into a 160 acre plot of land. It had a lot of sharp curves and two straight aways it looked challenging. To me it looked more like a grand prix course. The go carts were some very beat up Mustang IIs, they were V sixes with four speed transmissions. The full roll cage was scary. He told me to stay to the inside on the dirt and follow him. He gave me a few instructions on how to drive a standard transmission. I’ve driven one before I don’t care for them much; but in low powered cars, like my GEO, they are better than an automatic. I put on my helmet, buckled my safety harness. He showed me the little straps that keep the helmet, thus my head from being banged around. We were off.
I guess the new will wear off all this adrenalin rush after a while but right now – wow. We had a great time and after a while I really thought I could handle the little car. We pitted and filled the five gallons gas tank and the race was on. He was so much better at this than I was. He was just ‘walking’ on me and I was doing everything I could to keep up.
It was on the 180 just before the east straight away that I over stepped. I had the mustang running high R’s in a third gear power slide when it just came loose from the track, blink of an eye fast. I rolled the little car. It must have rolled a dozen times and damn it was scary. It came to rest on its side but it was still sliding and I hit a dirt bank pretty hard. It shook my teeth and snapped one of the straps that held my helmet to the roll cage.
It couldn’t have been as quick as it seemed but James was there quick. He was yelling for me to get out of the car. I was wondering why but when I saw that fire extinguisher he was carrying I started to move. He yelled for me to get my extinguisher. I unfastened it and drug it out of the mostly busted out windshield with me. I got to my feet and by that time the fire was mostly out. He was going to take my extinguisher and finish the job but I made him show me how it worked.
When the fire was out I lost it; I just hugged him and felt safe in his arms. I told him I was sorry about the car. He just laughed, “Do you think this is the first time this has happened?”
I didn’t let go of him. “I didn’t think cars caught fire in real life.”
He laughed, “Well this is the first I’ve ever been involved in a fire.”
I tried to get him to take me home but we went to the emergency room instead. They of course called my parents because I’m a minor. I had neck x-rays and they put two stiches in the cut on the back of my hand. That was about it until the cops arrived. Then the explaining started.
The cops were real interested in where I had rolled the car, how fast I was going and just what happened. We guessed at the speed maybe 75 and they were going nuts. Until, we explained it was on a closed race course behind James house. They weren’t interested after that.
My parents didn’t care if we were on the highway or not I was in trouble for racing. Oh and nearly getting myself killed. James paid for the emergency room visit and stayed with me for the next three hours until I was released to my parents. We parted at the emergency room door. I had to deal with my parents all by myself.
Over the next six weeks of the racing season we went to eight different tracks. James and I got very close. We had a lot of talks about actually getting as close as we could. But he feels the same way about sex as I do. If I was to have sex with him I would expect marriage and that is the way he feels about it too. We’re very close to that commitment.
My brother wouldn’t let us mess with the mustang. But I raced the Camaro every time I could in ‘sanctioned races’; that was the agreement I came to with my parents; only sanctioned races. I guess I got pretty good because everybody knows if they line up with The Bandit they have their work cut out for them. They better not mess up or they will lose. I can haul it through the blocks at 115 MPH in 12.54 seconds - every time.
I was invited to the final races of the season because of my point standing. I won my bracket and lined up with an old “B Railer” in the quarter finals. I didn’t think I stood much of a chance but James told me it was just another race and it was the driver and not the car when the tree was involved. I knew this and I still didn’t believe I could beat that beast. He told me I better get it together or I was for sure going to beat myself.
I believe I had the Railer just before the end block. I know I did but I heard the deafening tapping and the engine blew. Two rods went out the side of the block and busted up the right wheel. I rolled three times end over end. I of course was taken straight to the ambulance or it came to me I’m not sure. I walked away from that wreck too. But, the Camaro was done.
James didn’t fare much better. He had been complaining about a fuel delivery problem but no one could find it. He made it to the semi-finals but the times were nowhere near consistent. He was off a tenth of a second once. When the tree went down he hit the fuel and tried to take off but instead spread the engine all over the track in a ball of fire. It scared the crap out of me. But he walked away too. It was the end of the season and the end of both of our cars.
There were a lot of cars went to the grave yard that day. It’s all over for the season and they were really letting it all hang out. One of the fuelers shot a supercharger straight up and if it hadn’t been for the tie-downs I think it would have went into orbit. When the super charger hit the end of its tether it jerked the whole car off the ground a couple of feet. The crowd went nuts. It was a great day.
The local news channel had a camera crew at the finals and they caught a lot of things on camera. One they showed twice on the news that night was my car going end over end. It was a really interesting thing from the onlooker point of view – not so much from inside the car. I bet mom saw it; she is going to be really mad. The news guy spoke to one of the officials and he told them who was driving. “Patricia “Bandit” Cramer, she drives for Dysion Racing and is being checked out by the medics. I was an instant celebrity.
When James’ Super Stock blew later I was in the picture and the camera got me kissing him after the fire was put out and I found out he was just a little scorched. The official told the press he was James “Iceman” Dysion who also drove for Dysion racing. We became a human interest story and it was revealed that we had been dating for several months and were Juniors at Cameron High School. We both race in the junior class for licensed drivers under 18 year of age.
We got James’ Dodge on its trailer and the tow truck took the Camaro away. Over all, I was told, out of the eight Dysion drivers we did very well to spite four of the cars had to be manually put on their trailers.
We went to James’ parents for a cookout with the rest of the guys and it turned out really well. It was really nice as we talked about the day at the races. It was about nine that James Sr. got on the picnic table and yelled for quiet.
He said we had business. I never really thought about where the money comes from to race cars. It has to cost a lot of money. And apparently a winning season translates into cash. The Motor Works and dealership, his dad owns, will get more business.
He told us we had the best season ever and then he added “and it was mostly due to adding an eighth driver.” I don’t pretend to understand the points systems; I was just there to race. But, the points I added to the overall score put Dysion on top as far as points standing. Everyone was very pleased. I was even pleased and I don’t really understand why.
As we talked that night I found out the Camaro had been retired last season and they thought it a wonder it had held together this season. So they were not mad about me wrecking it.
James took me home about one and as always in the car or truck that could get out easily. It was a big dodge four door truck. On the drive home we talked about finding a new car to build for next year. He said we had a couple of months because we needed to start the build the first part of January after the rules for the new season were out.
I asked about moving up to Super Stock but he told me his dad wouldn’t go for it. He didn’t like two of his cars in the same class. I told him he could move up to Super Street. He thought that was a good idea but you have to be eighteen to race Super Street. So I guess I’ll be running Stock modified again next season. He told me that he believed his dad would let us both move up when we turned eighteen as long as we were not in the same class.
I asked what we were going to do now that the season was done. He laughed, “Well we are not going to be surviving on sandwiches, burgers, and pizza. I think I’d like a steak from Gregory’s.”
I sat back in the seat, “Oh that does sound good.”
He said “tomorrow night alright.”
I kissed his cheek “It’s a date.”
He walked me to the door when we got to my house and we kissed. He told me he would make the reservations for about eight and we parted for the night with another kiss.
I guess you could say my meeting with mom was less intense than I expected. She was standing just inside the door. She asked me if I was really in that car that tumbled over and over. I told her I was and she told me I had promised to be careful if I was allowed to race. I told her what happened was out of my or safety’s control. The bolts on the rods gave up and sent the scrap metal through the right tire.
She asked me why something like that couldn’t be stopped. I told her things just wear out and you never really know when they are going to stop working. She seemed relieved and told me at least I had survived and the car was gone. I left her with that; not saying I was going to build another one.
It was the next night at Gregory’s that James told me his dad had finagled us an invite to a teen rodeo in Charlotte, North Carolina. I asked “Why would I want to go to a rodeo.”
He laughed “It’s a car rodeo. We’ll be competing for something.”
I shrugged, “We don’t have cars.”
He nodded, “There are special rules at these things. Dad is going to build us each a ten second car for the rodeo.”
I smiled, “What is that, 140 plus.”
He nodded and I said “I’m in but I doubt if my mother is.”
When we got to my house James’ father’s truck was there. James went inside with me and there they sit, his parents, talking to my parents. It didn’t take them very long to get around to me going to Charlotte. I told them I would like to go but I had school and “Mom what do you think about this?”
She sort of turned her head to the side and just told me. “Mr. Dysion tells me there is a ten thousand dollar college scholarship on the line and he will pay all expenses and even if you don’t win he’ll put five thousand dollars in your college fund.”
I smiled “I’m in.” Mrs. Dysion is to be my chaperone.
The ironic thing about this is my grades are slipping a little because of my racing and I really should be in school.
Mr. Dysion gave me a really nice Dysion Racing jacket. It was black with Bandit written down the left sleeve in hot pink letters. James has a black one with Iceman down the sleeve in frosty bright blue that he wears all the time. In fact I was the only one on the crew that didn’t have one. He also gave me a letter and I read it to myself before I jumped and screamed telling them I was in the running for Teen Rocky of the year; that’s another five grand in my college fund – if I get enough points at Charlotte.
if you're writing over your readers head - tum etiam, ut graece scribens --- the secret of success changes;the truth of failure remains constant; if you try to please everyone you will fail.
Last edited by max crash; 08-28-2016 at 11:04 AM..
Reason: hope i got all the spacing