A is for Acting Out

The day I noticed my stepdad kept the keys in his black Pontiac Grand AM is the day I started planning. You can’t just take a car, at 15 years old, no license and cross state lines to skip school with your best friend without proper preparation.  It only took a few days to build up the courage and to feel as though my plan was foolproof.

I’d recently moved from Minnesota to Wisconsin and I missed my best friend… that’s how I justified this madness.

I watched the parental units pull out of the driveway, carpooling to their jobs and a twinge of excitement rushed over me. Running to the phone, I couldn’t get Jenny on the phone fast enough. She had no clue what was in the works – true schemes like this can’t be jeopardized by doing something willy-nilly like talking about it on the phone. That’s how you get caught. Duh.

“Do you want to go to school today?”

…’Well, no?’

“Pack us some lunch, and I’ll pick you up at your bus stop.”

Jenny and I had the kind of friendship where after something like that was said, no questions were asked.

I slam the phone down and get to work. I marked the garage with tape so I knew the placement of the tires – and you can’t drive as far as I planned and expect the gas gauge to keep a secret, so the tape had multiple purposes. It didn’t stop there… after I placed the cheat tape on the floor of the garage and the fuel deal – it went on the seat adjusters. My young lady legs were shorter than the regular occupant and the goal this whole time is to make sure the next time Clarence sits down to go somewhere – everything is just how it was.

I told you it was an elaborate plan.

Looking back now as an adult I’m surprised I didn’t have any concern for the neighbors, who easily could have saw me backing out of the driveway, if they did they kept their yappers shut and for that, I thank them. It was roughly an hour drive to Jenny’s bus stop and at no point do I remember being concerned. I was not worried about getting pulled over, I wasn’t worried about being absent from school and I certainly wasn’t worried about getting caught at home – I’d put the work in.

Confidence is key, apparently.  

Jenny packed us tuna fish sandwiches and I hate Tuna – everything about it, especially the smell. After she chucked the sandwiches out the window we made our way to the good ol’ Mall of America. I’d never tackled a parking ramp before so that was an adventure all in itself. We found somewhere to park, but being an unlicensed, inexperienced driver I bumped into the concrete barrier with his bumper. Our quick looks of fear didn’t take long to subside and we were back to being carefree in no time. No harm no foul.

We did some serious cruising with Missy Elliot, too. We opened the sunroof and laughed while we watched the rearview mirror shake with the bass vibrations. Eventually, the day had to come to an end and I was on a time crunch.

Often times, I wonder how I ever managed to get anywhere before GPS and then I remember the time I got lost on the way home from stealing my step dad’s car. I stopped for gas and was too paranoid to ask for directions because if I asked the gas station attendant they might ask for proof of a driver’s license. Simple 15-year-old logic.

I was on my own, lost, and that moment was the only time I felt nervous. Clarence and my mom were due home soon and all my fun was about to come crashing down around me. Not that I deserved God’s help but I give him credit for getting me home and in that garage – all lined up – approximately five minutes before their arrival. I erased the message from school, threw my backpack where it’d ususally be thrown after school and plopped down on the couch – full of relief. “Hey guys, how was your day?” I said, with a smile as they made their way into the house.

The moment of truth came and went – I got away with it.

Fast forward 3 years or so – my mother went and read all my old journals. Remember when I said, “true schemes like this can’t be jeopardized by doing something willy-nilly like talking about it on the phone. That’s how you get caught. Duh.” … I did not feel that the same standards were there for writing about it. She made me confess – three years later. We were out to eat, mowin’ down cheeseburgers when I spilt the beans.

“I TOLD YOU!! I TOLD YOU!!” – Clarence

Low and behold, I didn’t do as great of a job as I thought and he asked my mom about it that night and for a few weeks after, to which my mother responded

“Jennifer? No…no way, she wouldn’t do something like that.”


I am looking forward to the month of April because I’m participating in the A-Z Challenge. Mostly to get in the habit of writing every day, but also to re-enter the blogging community and make some new connections. Looking forward to reading the other submissions for day one!

Cheers.