The first thing was that my father owned a blue Buick Skylark. If memory serves me correctly, he bought it from an older gentleman who had kept it up on blocks for years, so it was in its original condition. He loved that car.
The second thing was that he and my mother took a trip out of town for the weekend, leaving me with the responsibility of holding down the fort.
You and everyone else knows exactly what I did within hours of their leaving their daughter with whom they had entrusted their home and their belongings.
I stole their car. Of course I stole their car.
That's right. I drove without a license, picked up a group of friends, and tore through a condominium complex to take in the thrill of bouncing over speed bumps.
At this point I would like to note that I have never before confessed of this activity to my parents. Dad, I AM SO SORRY.
One speed bump was particularly large, and, when we bounced down on the other side of it, my friends and I heard a loud and rather definite crunch. The muffler coughed and rumbled. And then it rumbled some more. We all got out to inspect the back end of the car while I stopped breathing and my brain went into mental heart attacks. I kept having mental heart attacks while the car rumbled all the way home. When I started it the next day, and it rumbled just like it did the night before, I had more mental heart attacks.
I was certain that the end was nigh. I was a car-thieving ingrate whose father would surely kill her.
My parents arrived home at the end of the weekend, and a couple of hours later, my father asked me to go with him to get gas. I didn't want to, but he was insistent, so I got into the passenger seat as though it were the gallows. I noted my surroundings as one does when one is going to die. I memorized the dashboard and waited for the end.
During the drive, he gave no sign of knowing what I had done to his car. The muffler grumbled on and on beneath our chatter, but he just kept on chatting, and I felt as though I would go mad with anxiety. He had to know. He just had to. WE WERE SITTING INSIDE THE EVIDENCE OF MY CRIME, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.
And then what I felt was surely the axe fell.
"Listen to that," he said.
"Listen to what?" I said.
"Do you hear that?" he said.
"Hear what?" I said. I hoped that playing stupid would somehow save my extremely damned, teenaged butt.
"The muffler. Listen to it. I've been waiting for it to sound like that since I got the car. It sound great, doesn't it?"
"Yeah. It sound pretty good." I said. "Almost like a motorcycle." My heart bounced around my chest cavity like a frightened bird.
Then, as evidence that miracles do indeed happen, we pulled into the driveway, parked the car, and that was it. No more was said about the muffler or how it got to be so rumbly. No blamed was laid, and the topic never came up again.
To this day, I am somewhat mystified. I don't know if my father knew what I had done or if he was just genuinely pleased with his muffler's degradation. I do know, though, that I felt as though I had been given some great and wonderful gift from the Universe against which I should not transgress, and I WAS NEVER TEMPTED BY THE CAR KEYS' PROMISE OF FREEDOM AGAIN.
So, Dad? If you did, in fact, know that I had stolen your beloved Skylark and dented your muffler, thankyou thankyou thankyou for being so extremely good about my indiscretion.
And, if you did, in fact, not know that I had stolen your beloved Skylark and dented your muffler, thankyou thankyou thankyou for taking this confession as an apology and forgiving me, because you do forgive me, right? Right?
Happy Father's Day!
PS. I just spoke to my dad, and he says that he totally knew what had probably happened. He still likes me.