My car developed a flat tire late in the night, forcing me to pull off the road about two miles from East Helena.
The car was a lumbering, rusted-out clunker—a whale as we called them. My friend and I, both fresh from our teens, were terribly drunk. I should not have been driving. But there we were, stranded in the middle of a late fall night.
“I have a spare,” I assured.
We poured ourselves from the front seat, dug into the trunk of my car; flopped my spare tire, a jack, and lug wrench onto the ground. We stared down at the spare and the jack for a while. Everything seemed terribly complicated.
“I have never changed a tire on this car,” I admitted, kicking at the jack. I picked up the jack, which seemed to have at least twenty percent more moving parts than a normal jack. My friend and I staggered around the car in the darkness trying to apply the jack to the car. The car would not stand still and my friend and I staggering all over the place, assessing our predicament.
After dragging the jack around the car a couple times and failing to grasp a firm place to apply it, we realized the mechanics of changing a tire was far beyond us.
“I think we should give up,” my friend said.
“You’re right.” I flung everything back into the trunk. “We can walk to town. It’s not that far. You can just stay with me at my grandparent’s house.”
We started walking. My friend staggered off in one direction. I drifted off in the opposite direction. After a few paces I yelled at him: “That’s the wrong direction!”
“No, it’s not! You are going the wrong way!”
An argument developed. Our tempers flared. I don’t remember anything we said. All stupid stuff. After enough of that, we stomped off in our separate directions. We continued yelling at each other across the darkness. As the distance between us grew, my friend’s voice grew smaller and smaller. Worry set into me. What were we doing? Clearly one of us was walking in the wrong direction. When I reached a certain spot, I stopped and yelled out to my friend, pleading that he also stop walking.
We agreed to come back together.
We hugged when we met at the car again.
After a bit of pointing and looking around, we chose a direction (mine) and walked arm-over-shoulder style toward East Helena and my grandparent’s house. We arrived at the house not long before dawn. My friend was hungry. After poking around the kitchen, I announced: “Looks like we will be having Fruit Loop cereal. We have some bread, too. You want a fruit loop sandwich?”
“Sure,” he said.
We each ate Fruit Loop sandwiches. To make them, I simply dumped a pile of the cereal on a slice of bread and then mashed another slice on top of that.
The next morning, another friend gave me a ride out to my car. In less than ten minutes, I managed to change the tire.
We were dumbass drunk the night before. I shudder to think that I was behind the wheel that night.