Sunday is the 23rd anniversary of one of the saddest and funniest memories I have from high school.
The phone rang as we were eating lunch in the house I grew up in. Bacon, eggs and toast. I was still in my pajamas, still relishing the idea of a lazy Sunday afternoon in my room, watching hockey or reading.
Our family’s rule was that nobody was to answer the phone while we were at the table during a meal, but I leaped to pick up the receiver. For some reason, I knew this noon-hour phone call wasn’t going to be a good one.
“Rachel,” a desperate, sad voice said on the other line. “Rachel. I got into an accident.”
“Oh, no.” I said. “Brian. Brian.”
My family looked at me from around the table. My father shook his head. My brother smirked and chuckled. My mother motioned for me to get off the phone. I don’t know what the look on my face said, but it must not have been good.
A mutual friend of ours – who, it ends up, was an awful driver, as this was the second of three crashes he was involved in – rear-ended the back of Brian’s new car, crumpling it. Brian and I went over to the house where the car was stopped, and it was just a mess. Even messier was the battle between the parents, who tried to pass blame from one person to another.
I had just met the boy of my dreams, a hockey player from St. Mary’s who had nothing to do with our group. Brian and I had cruised around in his Acura the previous morning, presumably to show off to Kristina, the girl he was in love with. I had gone out the night before, cruising around Annapolis with two of my friends.
Life was pretty fantastic for a 16-year-old. Until someone crashed into the back of my friend’s car.
And when I saw that Brian’s birthday was coming up this weekend, I couldn’t help but to burst into laughter and think of that teenage disaster. I would think that all of us have become better drivers since then.