Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. ~S.E. Hinton
Let me recap. I was reminiscing from my high school days, actually about one night in particular. A night that is so outlandish it sounds like it was made fictionally for television, but it’s entirely true! Pittsburgh – A Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 1
I took my old car, 1976ish Buick Limited, into Pittsburgh for a concert, when I wasn’t allowed, especially with a group of teenage friends. We got lost in a bad section of Pittsburgh, illegally parked my car at a shady convenience store, to only find the night got worse when my car wouldn’t start. Then, we accepted a ride to an auto parts store to purchase a new battery from a homeless man living in his car, which he may or may not have stolen. We made it to the auto parts store and headed back to my friends who stayed behind with the broken down vehicle, in the middle of the ghetto, in the middle of the night. Oh yeah, the homeless man’s car had no breaks. He used his emergency break to stop. I think that about sums up the last post. It only gets better from here.
Our homeless man, or more accurately, the man living in his car, drove a little fast, as per the speed limit signs, and definitely too fast considering we had no real means to stop. Suddenly, another obstacle struck us, or I should say we struck her. What looked like a woman, dressed in stilettos, a micro mini skirt, and big hair, staggered in front of us. Naturally, what else could make my story more colorful than a stranger appearing out of nowhere, to make contact with a moving vehicle, with no breaks! Granted, we weren’t cruising at top speeds, but we were certainly in motion, and remained there despite the pedestrian.
Our driver used his emergency break to come to a stop, but not before we nudged her. I know it wasn’t right, but we barely grazed this unconcerned night walker, who just walked in front of a moving vehicle. Well, she wasn’t have having any of it, and showed her disdain by punching the hood of the car. Then, our driver pushed the gas peddle, throwing her up on the hood, before using the emergency break again, throwing the stranger from the car. What? YES! Can you imagine my shock? I was mortified!
Please understand I never grew up around any alternative lifestyle, let alone knew what an alternative lifestyle was, or witnessed actions such as this one, meaning yelling out of a car at someone!
Again, what I thought was a lady, correction, I thought she was a prostitute, was not. I sat there speechless, craning my neck to look over the hood of the car, trying to find life, hoping she wasn’t dead.
Eventually, what seemed like an hour later, the night walker got up, looked around, and stumbled a little. To add to the terror, our angry driver began honking the horn and yelling out the window to get her to move. Then, he started muttering a few words, one being transvestite. Transvestite? What? Again, I’m a small town gal from Latrobe, who believed that a transvestite was a fictional character on television like a vampire, or an urban legend. Instantly, my attention left our driver, my eyes grew three times the size, and I began to really examine the lady/guy standing in front of us, in the middle of the road, completely forgetting she/he was just hit by us.
Still staggering, she/he appeared to be either completely intoxicated or on drugs, or both. The gal/guy stumbled to the passenger side of the door, where Sefo sat with the window down (allowing me to get air before I puked). Why that side, and not the side of the verbal driver? No clue. Aside from the staggering, which was evident before impact, our hit and run victim seemed unscathed. The next thing I remembered, she/he tried to punch Sefo! What did he do? Sefo leaned into me, to put some distance between his shoulder and the staggering fist. Luckily, our driver’s reflexes were quicker. The homeless man, correction, the man who lived in his car, hit the gas, leaving my first transvestite encounter in the dust. I mean Bruce Jenner (Caitlyn) wasn’t all over the news. My heart was racing and never slowed down. I looked at Sefo with wide eyes, expecting him to tell me all will be fine, that is until I saw his reaction. It was exactly like mine! Maybe a little more since he was in the line of direct fire.
Our unconventional hero of sorts, the homeless man who lived in his car, held true to his word and took us back to our friends and my broken car, almost safely. We had a battery, now what?
It appears the craziness is nearly behind us, right? That’s what I thought. How could it get worse?
Would you believe we never thought about tools! I didn’t have any, and our homeless man didn’t either. Personally, I thought with all that junk in the car, he’d at least have a screwdriver? Nope. Now what?
While we were off hitting, literally the night life, (pun intended), my friends took a walk to a local hangout to use the restrooms. They traveled down the street and came upon a gay bar. Again, please keep in mind, times were very different back then, and my innocence was not ready for the reality of the world aside from my own personal corner of Latrobe. My friends told me all about the sights they saw. What did they witness? No idea. I wasn’t paying attention in the slightest. It was at that moment, I started to hear ringing in my ears and I felt lightheaded. I was breathing heavy and the world was in slow motion. It was so surreal. The last thing I wanted was to put my friends in any sort of danger or crazy situation. Although, I will admit, they didn’t seem to mind and weren’t bothered by anything at all, except Sefo, rightfully so. I can’t imaging hitting anybody, let alone a transvestite with a car was normal.
Sefo told our tale to everyone, and it was at that point, I knew changes needed to made, immediately. What did I decide? I instructed a few of my friends to call their parents to come and get them, while I stayed with the car and figured out how to get it home. The idea of a tow truck did lurk in the back of my mind, but remember, I was about 30 to 40 miles away from Latrobe. I probably could have called a tow, but to travel that distance would have cost me a fortune, and I didn’t have much cash left. Reality, I didn’t even have that much cash in my bank account. Well, naturally my friends wouldn’t leave, so we all pulled up a seat along the curb discussing our next plan of action. Sometime in there, our homeless man who lived in his car departed without incidence.
Please note, it’s now probably about two in the morning and I had my Cinderella driver’s license.
Just then, a beat up truck pulled into the parking lot. Remaining consistent with our seemingly poor judgement, someone got up and asked the gentleman for assistance. This time, we simply asked for tools to install the brand new battery. He had tools! Now we’re in business.
Giving this new stranger, who was obviously drunk, a few bucks to change out the battery, he did so, with the help of our candles. One might wonder just how I was going to explain a brand new battery to my dad, and I thought about that. I’d tell him the truth. I had to have a new one installed since the old one died. Done!
Feeling hopeful, I jumped in the driver’s seat to turn over the engine. Nothing! Are you kidding me? No almost. No turning over and grinding. No attempt at trying. Nothing. Oh doubly crap! It wasn’t the battery after all! Now what?
Our situation got even worse, and I didn’t have the money for a tow the whole way to Latrobe.
Now a second minor problem. What was I going to do with a brand new battery?
Take it back of course! Keep in mind, I had no idea where this auto parts store was located, or how to get there. Personally, after the situation with the staggering transvestite, my mind was wiped clear of all awareness and reality. How would we know where to go? I got it! I had the receipt containing the name of the auto parts store. Would it be open? It was worth a try.
Unbeknownst to our drunk driver, he was about to be added to our nightly events. Sefo asked him to give us a lift back to the auto parts store. Not knowing if the store was closed or not, me and Sefo jumped back into another stranger’s vehicle, this time we knew his full story, or at least the pertinent details, he was clearly drunk. We took a ride from whence we came, for a small fee of course. Driving like a manic, actually like a blind man, we departed, not knowing if we’d make it back, leaving our friends in the ghetto. Who was safer?
To be continued…