More than a decade ago, my father made an unusual decision. I’d asked to drive to Atlanta (10 hour drive) with my best friend for Spring Break my senior year of college. I usually skipped SB all together. The drinking age, obviously, was 21, and I was 20 when I graduated in college, so in my estimation, there wasn’t much fun to be had. Anyone whose chosen to remain sober when surrounded by drunk people will tell you the same. But it was the final semester, and I’d spent the fall in London and missed my last homecoming as a student. Maybe he took pity on me. Maybe he was delusional. Miraculously, Dad, who I full well expected to say “no”, said “okay.”
His parting words as I backed “my” (his) car down the driveway were “ Demetria…. Be safe.” I didn’t think much of it because that’s what he said everytime I left the house. The old man was always expecting the worst to happen anytime I tried to have fun.
He was too close for me to roll my eyes and not get caught, and I was too excited about the trip. So I said, “Okay, Dad” and went to pick up Margaret at Howard without any further interruptions.
In adult retrospect, it was a 7-day journey that I, nor my bestie, had any business on. The plan was to meet up with Margaret’s best friend, Lonnie, and her underage niece whose name I can’t remember, who were staying at Lonnie’s boyfriend's place in Atlanta. He had a roommate Lonnie described as “fine”. This had all the potential for a memorable week.
I made a series of bad (but fun) decisions and spent the week with some people who though nice enough, I’d never want my kid around (that doesn’t include Lonnie or her cousin). The highlights:
*watching porn projected onto a blank wall while eating a gourmet breakfast (it was the homeowner’s idea)
*meeting a charming man (friend of the homeowner) who had M.O.B. ("money over bitches") tatted on his arm above a portrait of his deceased grandmother. While visiting his apartment, he decided he wanted to smoke. He removed a lid from a standard-size barrel—which I thought was for decorative purposes—at which point I discovered was filled with weed, not for personal use. He spooned out, well, a spoon-full, and dumped it on a magazine cover to start chopping it up. He paused mid-chop and like a host who had forgotten to offer his guests something to drink, he goes, “oh, my bad, did ya’ll want…” and swiftly got up to serve us. (We declined. I don’t smoke, and the general smoker’s rule is you don’t smoke from strangers.)
*the time the homeowner, my friend’s then-boyfriend, confessed to having sex with more than 100 women… at the tender age of 23
*the nicest (and finest) roommate in the world, who threw down in the kitchen one night in a way I’ve never had a man do before and after. The day after we left, the ATF raided the apartment to arrest him. Apparently, he was a notorious gun-runner.
Like I said, we had no business there.
But it’s what happened on the way back, that defines the story of the weekend.
On our last day, we BS’d on leaving. We were having too much fun to be, you know, responsible. I don’t even remember what we did all day, but some time around six, we decided that it was finally time to head back. Neither of us really wanted to drive, so we’d make a game out of seeing how fast we could get back to Maryland.
As we were packing our stuff, M.OB. stopped by to say goodbye and offered to take everyone to dinner as a parting gift. Margaret and I changed our plans again in order to have a fancy Italian dinner in ATL.
Our luggage was in the car, so after dinner, we hopped in the ride, glanced at the scribbled directions Lonnie’s boyfriend had given us (pre-GPS days) and headed out on the road. Margaret and I took turns driving and somewhere just outside Virginia, Margaret realized if we kept the same pace, we could make it home in just under 8 hours.
Nice... or it could have been.
Margaret was driving with both hands gripping the steering wheel, as we hurdled the car down the highway so fast that the wheel shook. And suddenly, what really should have been expectedly, we heard sirens.
To be continued...