Garden State Parkway, New Jersey, USA
Cans of Natty Light flipped and sprayed across the parkway.
U2’s stupid Discotheque was cranking out of our Jeep Cherokee as we smashed into the surprisingly spacious little trunk of the Nissan Altima that had slammed on its brakes in front of us.
It was prom weekend.
The parkway had toll booths every few miles where drivers stopped and tried to toss change into yellow baskets. This particular toll booth came up all of a sudden as we sped up a hill. No time for brakes.
I moaned, “Duuuuuuuude!”
70 miles per hour of teenage testosterone, shitty music and two hunks of automotive material cracked together.
It wasn’t entirely our fault. The car in front of us had already rear-ended the car in front of them, and the car in front of them had already rear-ended the car in front of that. You can imagine what happened next.
A little red Acura impaled itself into our trunk. Then, unfortunately, screaming sounds.
I was in shotgun, and S and I looked at each other with serious faces.
It didn’t hurt.
We were stopped in the fast lane in a river of smashed glass, plastic, and hissing beer cans. A red Honda slowed next to us. A high school kid, like any of us, said: Yo, you OK?
S and I felt our legs, chests, peered back into the back seat. J seemed shaken, but she was putting her hair behind her ears. M, the French exchange student, looked unfazed, unimpressed, French.
DB: Yea, we’re OK.
Cool. Yo, help us grab this beer before the cops come!
We hopped out and began grabbing cases of beer from the smashed cars and loading them into his Honda. Corona bottles, Budweiser cans, Bud Light cans, Natural Light, Natural Ice. Plastic handle of Popov vodka. Captain Morgan’s.
Back and forth from these 4 smoldering cars, while other cars, speeding over the hill, swerved around us to avoid killing high school kids running with arms full of beer and liquor bottles on the highway. The driver in the red Acura kept screaming. Her arm and face were bleeding and nobody was really paying attention.
DB: Heading to Sleaze Side?
Yea, the Winwood or some shit.
DB: Cool, we’re in The Breezes.
Come say what up.
I remember thinking that the 1995 Jeep Cherokee was the most badass car on the road. Our hood wouldn’t close, but only because the grill was dented up about an inch. The back hatch wouldn’t snap shut, but also, we were dented only about an inch.
We waited there in this screaming, decaying line up for a while, then put our hazards on and bumbled to the right shoulder. We waited for cops to take our info, but the other cars, injuries, and underage possession charges had taken precedence. Nobody seemed to recognize that we were part of the mayhem. Maybe because we had only sustained two inches of damage.
S: Should we just go?
DB: I mean, how long do we need to sit here?
S: Let’s just go.
We ambled off the highway at the next exit and found a little hardware store. We bought a roll of silver duct tape to tape the hood down and the back hatch shut. After ten minutes of taping, S stood back and surveyed his black Cherokee. The silver lining.
S: It needs something.
J was beginning to look unwell. Her face was draining and she was hugging herself.
DB: We should get there already.
S: We have to make this right.
S bit off a length of the silver tape and squatted next to the driver door. He taped and ripped, taped and ripped. The French dude smoked and looked at his marvelous silver watch face. I don’t know what face I was making. S stepped back.
S: Perfect. Let’s go.
We looked at the driver’s door of the Jeep. In 750-point duct tape all-caps was one word: DADDY.