It Sounded Like a Challenge to Me

Recently I have taken up painting, something that’s long been on my bucket list. Like racing cars, this too began as nothing more than a dream. Fortunately, the planets aligned and what was once a fantasy, became a reality.

While we’re on the subject of painting, a very good friend, fellow Oregonian, Brenna Tyler, a renowned artist, with so many accolades there’s not enough room to list them all, has been wonderfully inspirational, supportive and encouraging with respect to my own painting. A few nights ago, Brenna called me just to tell me how impressed she was with my art. I was more than overwhelmed given her amazing works, which are sought nationwide.

After listening to Brenna’s praise regarding my paintings, she shared a story about her son, Conner, which happened literally just minutes prior to our phone call. She managed to remain calm while telling me, “Conner just got home a few minutes ago and informed me he got a speeding ticket — for doing 100 miles per hour!” I must admit, she was much more successful at remaining calm than I was. I simply couldn’t contain my laughter. Eventually I was able to express my praise to her for remaining so calm given the situation, a quality many mothers and fathers could not pull off.

After a short conversation with Conner, I was impressed with how honest and mature he was, and I felt a bond of sorts. He reminded me of a certain Oregon boy — me — when I was his age. And therein lies the humor of this chain of events.

When I was 16, I worked at my father’s lumber mill long enough to earn enough money to buy my first car: a medium metallic blue 1959 Chevy Impala, with a big-block engine, three deuces, four-speed transmission, and 4.11 rear-end gears. Oh yeah, I was a God — or so I thought.

The first weekend arrived after I had my new car, so that meant it was time to cruise “The Gut” with my buddies. Now, keep in mind, I grew up in a small town of Bandon on the coast of Oregon, and the good news for a young guy with a hot set of wheels was, there was only one city policeman at a time. As we sat watching others cruise by, we saw the city policeman headed south, which meant there were no police cars headed the other direction.

That’s when the gears in our teenage heads began to churn, and someone said, “I bet nobody’s ever gone over a hundred on main street.” Well, that sounded like a challenge to me. The next thing you know that ‘59 Impala had lit up the cheater slicks and as we rounded the bend on the main street, and headed up the hill, my right foot mashed to the floor.

The good news was, that night someone did go over 100 on the main street through town. The bad news was … this night was a very rare occasion that an Oregon State policeman just happened to be in town! My buddies all slumped down in the seat, saying, “We’re all going to jail.”

When the police officer said he was going to have to write me a ticket for going over 100 miles per hour, I tried telling him he couldn’t give me a ticket. When he asked why not, I told him, “I’ve never had a warning, so you can’t give me a ticket. I believe I get a warning before you can give me a ticket, right?”

That was the night I learned you don’t get a “first warning.”

When I got home, my dad asked, “Well, how bad was it?” I asked how he knew, and he said, “Do the math … you go out on a Friday night with a car like yours, and you come back home in less than an hour? I’m going to bed. You can deal with your mother.”

Now that’s another story.

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