There it was. A white 1995 Chrysler LeBaron. It was beautiful with its crisp, white exterior and tan, leather interior. The convertible top was up, but I would quickly change that. It was the first car I ever stole. It was just sitting there in the garage, keys inside. How could I resist? It was a hot Colorado day, and no one was around to stop me. I jumped in, started the baby up and backed out of the garage.
I took a left out of the driveway and was on my way. I knew my destination. 7-Eleven to get a slushy. I drove the one mile to the convenience store and watched as everyone admired the wind through my hair. I’m sure they all wondered “how can that young girl afford such a vehicle?” I was 15 years old at the time and barely had my permit. Pink, freckled skin with long, blonde hair, wearing skater clothes. I hardly looked the part to be driving a “luxury” vehicle. But there I was.
I walked into 7-Eleven like I owned the place, and everyone watched as I filled my cup with Orange Crush slushy. I paid and casually got back into the vehicle.
Where to next? Perhaps a drive around the neighborhood. Was I daring enough to get on the highway? After all, it was right there, so why not jump on? I took a left out of the parking lot, and I was once again on my way. I slammed the gas pedal to the floor as I shot up the on-ramp.
Cars were zipping by me at 70-75 miles per hour. My hair was flying everywhere. I couldn’t see and didn’t know how fast or how slow I was going.
What the hell have I done? I needed to get off the highway. Unfortunately, the next exit wasn’t for another mile, so I took it easy and tried to keep my hair out of my face long enough to safely exit the highway.
Whew! I made it. Crap, now I have to get back where I came from. Home.
Yes, you read that correctly. I needed to get the car back home. I wasn’t a “bad girl.” I wasn’t a rebel. I generally followed the rules and tried to make my parents proud. Obviously, there were plenty of times I broke the rules and pushed boundaries, and this was one of those times. I decided I would take side roads to get home.
I needed to get the car back before anyone noticed it was gone. And to add to it, it wasn’t even our car. It belonged to our family friends, and I have no idea why we had it. I do recall that they were out of town, as I needed to feed their dogs and get the mail. That would be next on the list. But why their car was at our house? No clue. So do I drive to their house, or do I walk to handle the chores?
I decided I would drive because, well, I had already taken the car. Might as well do my job and take care of the things I told them I’d take care of. I wound through the neighborhood, trying not to be seen. We lived in a decently sized neighborhood, but most people knew each other and knew what kinds of cars each other drove (especially in my family because of my mom’s Mary Kay Pink Cadillac). The LeBaron was no different, and our family friends lived just a few blocks from us. This was going to be a challenge to go undetected.
I got to their house and parked in the garage. They lived in a cul-de-sac with maybe 10 other houses, and all the neighbors knew they were out of town. I was a nervous wreck driving up their street. I needed to get in and out quickly and not let the car be seen. At first glance, no one noticed me. Whew! I fed the dogs and got the mail. I opened the garage and looked around. No one was outside, so I felt safe getting into the car and driving home.
I pulled the white stallion back into our garage, left the keys where I found them and went inside. I was home free! Unscathed, unnoticed and no one was the wiser that I had just taken a joy ride in the LeBaron. Wow! That felt great. I went on with my usual teenage shenanigans for the day, did homework, watched television, the usual.
A short while later, I was upstairs in my room when my dad called up to me. He asked me to come downstairs. Crap! He knows! But how does he know? Did my little sister rat me out? Did a neighbor see me? Did HE see me? I shook the entire time it took me to get downstairs. He asked me to sit at the island and asked me if there was anything I wanted to tell him.
“No?” I answered.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“I don’t think so?” I answered, again.
What a loaded question! Did he know about the joy ride? Was he asking about the class I skipped? Did he know about the time I snuck out of the house?
Then he asked what I had done that afternoon. Now, I’m dead. He’s going to kill me. I had to fess up. There was no sense in lying. He had found out, and I was going to be grounded for the rest of my life. So, I told him I had borrowed the Pike’s car to go feed their dogs and get the mail and that it was too hot to walk, and I just thought I’d borrow it for a few minutes and get back home to do my homework. He looked at me. I looked at him. The silence was deafening. And then it was over. He told me that was a terrible decision, told me to never do it again, and then he walked away.
What just happened? I’m still breathing! I’m still alive! And I’m not grounded? I felt like I had won the lottery. It wasn’t until several years later that I discovered how he found out.
Public service announcement for all parents: He wrote down the mileage when they dropped it off. Genius! Having three siblings, two of which are older than me, my dad often did things like that to keep an eye on us when my parents weren’t around. So, the next time you go out of town, jot down the mileage, and you’ll know if anyone took your car on an unplanned adventure.
The kicker was that my dad knew I had taken the car further than a couple of blocks. Not sure why he didn’t bust me on that lie. Maybe he was tired that day. Or, he saw a little of himself in me, the kid who was seeking just a little adventure and made it home safely. Who knows?
Jen’s Friday Night Insights
Speaking of thrill-seeking and adventure, who’s ready to talk some football?
James Conner (RB, Arizona Cardinals)
First of all, what? James Conner has been a staple in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backfield for the last three years. He was drafted by his hometown team in 2017 but saw only 32 touches, 144 total yards and zero touchdowns that year.
Since his rookie year, he’s proven his worth and has boasted 26 TDs, 656 touches and 3,265 total yards. With running back Le’Veon Bell out of the picture by 2018, Conner was able to explode. While it’s not a major surprise that the Steelers didn’t re-sign him, it’s still a little shocking. What does this mean for the Arizona Cardinals, and was this a good move for Conner?
Short answer: yes to both. The Cardinals traded Kenyan Drake to the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this year, so they were lacking a strong backfield and needed support for fellow RB, Chase Edmonds.
Conner and Edmonds will likely share the snap count and have equal chances at the ball. The Cardinals went 8-8 in the 2020 season, and with the addition of Conner, and him reuniting with former position coach James Saxon, I think this was a good move all around.
I always end my columns with a game day drink, and this one is no different.
I’m here to join the conversation, drink in hand and watch the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Cheers!
Drink Recipe for the Month:
Draft Day Punch
- 1-liter Sprite or 7-Up
- 1 750ml bottle of Prosecco
- 3 cups club soda
- 8 oz vodka
- 2 oz blue Curaçao
- Add all ingredients to punch bowl with ice, stir and enjoy!
Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more motherly and sports fantasy advice @JenPolvogt.