Not Exactly An Accident


     We’re about to eat brunch when my son calls from college.  I put my blackberry on speaker phone as our eggs and French toast arrive.   The diner is noisy, but our ears are on full alert because Max is usually asleep at noon on Sundays.               
     “You’ll never believe what happened last night….” He leaves the sentence hanging, and I imagine the worst.  “I was driving with John and Melissa, and they got into a fight.
     Visions of a smashed up car and an ambulance with screaming sirens pulse through my mind. “Are you all right?” 
      “Mom, relax.   I’m fine, except for getting no sleep.   Melissa might have a concussion, but it’s too soon to tell. She’s still hung over.”

       “What happened?”  My husband cuts to the chase and stuffs a bite of French toast into his mouth.
      Max’s voice emerges from the blackberry to offer: “Melissa got mad at John for talking to his ex-girlfriend for too long.  Melissa stormed out of the bar and decided to drive home to New Hampshire.  She was drunk out of her mind and got into an accident.”

     “So you weren’t driving.” I sigh with relief.   Although my son doesn’t drink— and is, in fact, the designated driver among his friends— Max grew up in Manhattan and has very little experience driving at night or on highways. 
     “Well, I had to drive John’s car to go find Melissa after she texted me that she’d been in an accident."

     “Why didn’t John go find her?”   I stab the French toast with my fork.   “She’s his girlfriend.”  I can’t swallow another bite.      

     “John was in no condition to drive.   And we had to find her.  Her cell phone died so she couldn’t tell us where she was.”

     Thank God it was just her cell phone. “And you found her?”

     “We calculated she’d been driving north for about an hour.   When we didn’t see her, we started calling police precincts.    It turned out she’d been arrested for DWI and they were holding her on $500 bail.  I only had $60 in my account and John had $150 and—.”

     “Why are we bailing out John’s girlfriend?”  My husband interrupts.   “Doesn’t she have parents?”

     “Chill, Dad.  We located Melissa’s cousin who came, but not until 3:30 in the morning.  While we were waiting, we tried to schmooze up the cops.   They told us Melissa’s lucky to be alive.  She swerved into the wrong lane, but there were no cars.  Believe it or not, there’s a funny part of the story too.” Max’s voice bursts through the blackberry with barely suppressed glee.

     My husband and I look at each other.  “What’s funny?” My French toast is soggy and cold. 

     “The cops told us Melissa kept taking off her handcuffs.  Then she swiped some brownies from the police station that were supposed to go to homeless children.  First she only ate a couple of the brownies, but then she decided to reward John and me for coming to her rescue and took the rest.”

     “Stolen goods?”  My husband, the attorney, almost spits out his eggs.  “Melissa’s lucky they didn’t book her for resisting arrest and petty larceny.”

     But I can’t help smiling.   It’s one of those times when being a young, pretty woman is an advantage.  I shudder to think what would have happened to my son or his friend if they pulled such a stunt.   I take a sip of my coffee.  It’s lukewarm.

     “I asked the cops who was the craziest person they ever arrested,” our son chuckles. “One of them said it was Melissa.  The other cop asked which one of us was her boyfriend.  When we told him, the cop shook his head and asked: ‘How on earth do you do it?'”

     It’s a question we ask ourselves every day.

 

 

 

 

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