2009-06-11 / Opinions

Of all the stupid things I've done, running over myself may be tops

By KIP BURKE news editor

When the discussion turns to all the stupid things we did when we were young, I usually win.

When I was 18, I ran over myself with my own car.

While I was sitting in the driver's seat.

We'd just graduated from h igh school and it was the perfect warm summer night for me and my girl of the moment, Kay, to be cruising around in my yellow 1957 MGA convertible.

I have to admit, not all girls liked my old $250 MG, since they occasionally objected to being windwhipped, sweaty or half-frozen depending on the season, and arriving smelling like, well, an old MG.

But Kay liked the MGA, and loved how cool and just a little wicked she looked riding onto the campus of the very Baptist Samford University in Birmingham with me.

That night, we'd parked behind a nearby country club to hold hands, maybe smooch a little, knowing we had to get her back to the dorm by 1 a.m. or she'd turn to a pumpkin. Now, it's well-known that the MG's Lucas electrical system was engineered by the Prince of Darkness himself, so I'd purposely parked close to the edge of a steep driveway so if the car wouldn't start, and I'd just roll it down the hill, slip it in gear, dump the clutch and off we'd go. I had done it before, Lord knows.

But tonight, I'd left the MG's front wheels about two feet of the downhill part of the parking lot, and of course, we had listened to Pink Floyd on the 8-track just long enough run the battery down.

No problem, I thought, I'll just stick my foot out and roll it forward, just give it a little push…

The MGA is a tiny car, easy to push at 1600 pounds, and so small you can touch the back wheel from the driver's seat. So here I am, still sitting in the driver's seat, and I stick my left foot out and give a mighty push, rolling the car forward. Just as I felt gravity take over and start pulling the car down the driveway, I also feel the left rear tire run up over the heel of my left foot, which I had left carelessly in its way.

What had seemed like a light car became very heavy, and gravity made the back tire crawl up my left leg and drag me half way out the car, where it stuck. This did not amuse Kay at all, because her curfew was minutes away, and I'd better quit messing around.

Well, there I was, getting a death wedgie from my own car. I didn't have the leverage to get the car off me, and Kay couldn't comprehend I had actually run over myself and was whacking me on the shoulder and raving about demerits and backsliding.

Since necessity is the mother of invention, and stupidity often the father, it finally dawned on me that I could shift into reverse, pull the starter knob and maybe the battery (and the Prince) would give me just enough juice for the starter to back the car off my leg. Sure enough, two good rrrur-rrurs later, I was free. I even got Kay back before the witching hour and lived to tell the tale.

Aha, you're thinking, I'll be you learned your lesson that time. No, of course not. Just to show that I learned absolutely nothing, my next car was a Jaguar and my next girl was a redhaired drama major.

How did we survive our youth?

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