I found it both Healing and Liberating to share some of my seemingly disaster moments in my past. It helps me to reflect, learn, and understand how much I have grown and changed in some areas, and not so much in others. If sharing my awkward, embarrassing and disappointing moments in Life help others to learn to laugh at Life, and Heal, then it is well worth the current discomfort.
While in Law School, I still hadn't been on any real dates. Still somewhat shy and awkward, I struggled to find enough self-confidence to ask any girl out. Mind you, I had already been through high-school and college. Nothing. No proms. No banquets. No dates with the exception of one date to the movies in undergraduate school. No kiss. Might have held hands a little. Maybe a hug goodnight. Lame. Still a Virgin.
So in law school, the opportunity came up to go to a fancy event at the Kamehameha Schools to have dinner with the President of the school at his campus home. I was excited to attend and found out that most men were bringing dates.
I summoned the courage to ask a good friend out. She had recently broke up with her long time boyfriend. She was kind. Funny. Beautiful. I was kind of crushing on her. She said yes. I was so excited. A fancy dinner. If I remember correctly, I just had to buy a ticket for her as my dinner was paid for as part of the organization I belonged to in law school.
So my 1966 Mustang was washed and polished and the creamy-white paint job looked brilliant in the Setting Sun. I picked up my friend at the UH dorms where we both resided in different buildings at the time and headed towards the Kamehameha Schools campus.
My cool-mix soft-rock tape was playing in my car tape deck. My Bazooka bass tube slightly thumping in the trunk. The car was so Beautiful that it often would cause people to turn their heads for a second look or to provide a kind comment. And finally, in my passenger seat, a most Beautiful woman seated next to me.
I felt like a million bucks. Life was good. Good for the next fifteen minutes at least.
So we were traveling down School Street and it was starting to get dark. We stopped at a traffic light, and then I stepped on the gas and the car shot forward and then the transmission started spinning and the engine gunning. like I was in neutral. Only realizing when I glanced down that the gear shifter was in Drive. I quickly put it into Neutral again and back into Drive. The car lurched forward a bit and then the engine started revving as I applied the gas and the transmission spun again. No power to the drivetrain.
As the car continued to roll forward with dying momentum, I turned the steering wheel and coasted to the side of the road just in time before the car came to a stop. I got out and opened the hood. I could smell a slight burning smoky smell.
I was less than a quarter of a mile to our destination and my car was broke down. I quickly assessed the situation and realized, after checking the transmission fluid level under the hood, that there wasn't enough fluid to keep the transmission going.
I saw a closed gas station across the street and asked my friend to sit tight for a moment. I ran across traffic and fortunately found a quart of transmission fluid in the little convenience shop which was still open. I gave it to the clerk and prayed that it would be enough fluid. She rang it up and told me I owed just under six dollars for it.
I opened my wallet and to my shock, I only had two dollars. No credit card either as I didn't have one until after law school. Yes, I know. I know. I hadn't brought any money with me because I had gas in the car, and dinner was paid for. I felt so foolish.
So I went back outside and had to ask my friend if I could borrow five dollars from her. Yes, I know. I know.
She laughed and asked me if I needed more. I told her that I needed it for transmission fluid, it was more than enough, and then we could continue on our way. I was so embarrassed.
So I ran across the street and bought the transmission fluid, and came back and poured it into the transmission inlet while drops fell onto the hot engine block gracing me with a the nice smoky smell of burnt oil. Eau de Cologne "Burnt Charred Turkey" by Armani.
I slammed the hood with as much satisfaction, as well as Manly Bravado as I could muster, so that any other male of the species in a quarter mile radius could admire my MacGyver skills and date saving finesse.
I then strutted back around the car like a Rooster, and put the empty container on the floor of the backseat. I then sat down in the driver's seat, and smiled at my friend while turning the key to ignite the engine, all the while, apologizing to her for the drama and thanking her again for the five dollars.
I put the Mustang in gear, and much to our collective relief, the gears engaged with the Powertrain and we started down the street again. I smiled and said here we go. Looking at my watch, we could still make the dinner on time. I again felt like a million bucks. As least for the next twenty seconds.
Before I knew it, the engine started gunning and the transmission started spinning again. All the new fluid was spilling out on the road. I lost power and again coasted to the side of the road. What a disaster.
We both got out and I realized that I couldn't leave the car on the road so I asked her to steer and I pushed the car off the road into the driveway of a business that was fortunately closed.
She got out again and we both stood there thinking what to do.
I was so upset at mostly myself. I had a 1966 three-speed manual transmission vehicle and the owner of the Mustang Shop, who worked on my classic car at times, convinced me to swap out the manual transmission for a four-speed automatic transmission.
I somehow agreed and let him swap out the transmissions. I thought it would be easier to drive in Hawai'i traffic without shifting all the time, tiring my leg out on the clutch, and in addition, with a automatic transmission, it would be easier for me to drive and eat a plate lunch or other messy fast food at the same time since I was always busy and on the move. Something that was harder to do when you had to constantly up and down shift. Food all over my chest and stomach. Real classy.
I just spent the last of my money on this vehicle transformation and had my car back for less than a week. Obviously, something wasn't right with the conversion for the trans fluid to dump out.
I briefly told her about my vehicle transformation. Then she laughed and said, "Your garter belt fell down."
I looked at her in confusion and shock as she smiled and pointed down to my foot.
To my horror, I had worn these elastic ribbons that attach to your sock and to your shirt tail that I bought from the military shop after my father showed me what they were. They hold your socks up and more importantly, keep your shirt tucked in tightly to your pants no matter how much you move around or lift your arms up and down. Military personnel wear them to look sharp.
I wore them because I hated tucking in my shirt with my love handles and paunch and sometimes had to wear dress shirts with a tie for law school.
To my horror, one clip came off of my shirt and fell down the leg of my pants and was sticking out on the ground. She smiled again. "See, your garter belt thingy..."
I quickly bent over, grabbed the ribbon, pulled it off of my sock with such force, such that the clip snapped hitting my hand, leaving a painful red mark. I smiled through the stinging pain as I quickly stuffed it into my pants pocket, while we both laughed. I was still horrified. Probably red and flushed as well. I didn't really know what a garter belt was but thought of sexy Victoria Secret women's kind of things.
I asked her to stay there while I went back across the street. I certainly couldn't buy anymore fluid, nor would that make a difference seeing that we could only drive about twenty five feet for every quart. I mainly went into the gas station store to buy me some time to think what I should do. Within a minute or two of aimlessly looking around the auto parts shelves, I came back outside.
The last of the Setting Sun light was just about gone. I watched the traffic so I could safely run across the street. To my shock, I saw another law classmate driving down School Street also headed to the dinner, albeit a little late at that point.
I was so excited at the possibility of being rescued, of salvaging the night, of salvaging my date. I screamed out his name as his window was open.
To my shock, he gassed his car as he simultaneously rolled up his window. All in a matter of seconds as he passed by and into oblivion. I couldn't believe it.
I know we were in a little rough patch of town and it was getting dark, but I never saw someone freak out and speed away like that before. I thought I must have scared him.
I also remembered that he had confided in me that he was thinking of asking out the same young lady that I had asked out, as she had attended some mutual functions and he was also fond of her. I sadly told him that I had asked her already and she was going with me to the dinner. I felt bad as I knew he wasn't the most outgoing person, had a hard time summoning the courage, and sure enough, here he was alone in his car going stag. After I stole his date.
I honestly didn't think that he saw or heard me, and chose to leave me stranded. It could have been a shining moment for him to save us. Such that he only had a two-seater sport's car at the time, he could have easily rescued my date and taken her to the dinner and left me to deal with my broken down car. I would have agreed to it too. That may have led to a relationship. Marriage. Children. Happiness. But he chose to roll up his window and speed off. A good reminder to not live in Fear.
So anyway, I ran across the road and approached my friend and told her the incredulous story of watching our last hope for rescue speed away in his car. We stood there in the dark, next to my car, talking about what to do. We both agreed that dinner was not going to happen. The focus now was on getting us both back home.
I knew I didn't have enough money for a tow-truck. I was surviving on student loans and Pell Grants. I didn't have money for a taxi to take us back to UH. It was a complete disaster. Of all the things I could have spent my dispensable income on, I chose to use it to convert my Mustang. Men and their cars. I know. I know...
I walked across the street to the payphone and called a good friend to see if he could pick us up. No answer. Just an answering machine. I left a message that I was stranded and would call him back later. No cellphone back then. They were rare indeed.
I let my friend know that I had left a message with my friend. She said that she could call her friend and see if they were at the dorms to come pick us up. I said that would be awesome. I told her I could get my friend, once he gets my message, to help bring me back to tow the car to the Mustang Shop on Sand Island Access Road and leave it there to repair the problem with the transmission.
We used the pay phone again. She spoke to her friend and they left UH to come rescue us.
Well, as much as I had prayed and hoped that her friend was a girlfriend of hers, it was a guy friend. He eventually pulled up in his truck and got out. She introduced me to him. We shook hands. He smiled. I grimaced trying to feign a smile.
He asked if my car was going to be alright and complimented me on how Beautiful the car was. I let him know that I would be back later tonight to recover and tow the car before it could be stripped or stolen. I thanked him profusely for coming to get us.
The ride back to the dorms was mostly quiet and reflective with some small conversations, some laughs and levity, and tons of embarrassment for me which I tried not to show. I was so humiliated. The only thing that could have made that ride even more embarrassing was if I accidentally farted loudly during the quiet ride. I would have opened the passenger door of the moving vehicle and jumped out into oncoming traffic.
We arrived back at UH and I again profusely thanked the guy for saving us. He was kind and humble and truly nice. I then hugged my friend and apologized for such a horrible date. She laughed it off and expressed how much she enjoyed our adventure. I found it hard to believe, as she was always so kind and sweet.
I returned to my dorm and called my best friend at the time who came from public housing in Kalihi and helped me tie up and tow my Mustang, with his shiny bright red Pontiac Firebird nonetheless, to the Mustang Shop on Sand Island Access Road where I parked it right in front of the shop entrance praying it wouldn't get stolen or stripped overnight.
My friend dropped me off back at the dorms, after I shared my disastrous night with him. He laughed and laughed. I wanted to cry. I was so truly grateful to him as well however. People you can depend upon in Life. We haven't spoken in years. But the closeness and trust is still there. For Life.
My sweet kind and gracious date and I stayed close after that for some years. I was numb still from relationship confusion and struggling to stay alive, and in law school, despite the drama and hardships. I could have married her and been very happy. But life led me down different paths and to a different Destiny.
Looking back, I can laugh now. A pretty darn pathetic date if you ask me. But Life goes on. Grateful and humbled it does go on.
Thank you to all the Beautiful people in my Life who have made this Life Truly Beautiful and so very Worth Living....