|Not the actual car, but it looked a lot like this.|
This Buick, however, was Monica's car. And it was quite central to our lives when Monica got her driver's license in January of our junior year.
I have a summer birthday, so all my friends turned 16 during the school year before I did. This was fine with me because driving kind of made me nervous. So I was perfectly content to be the passenger. And even after I got my license, I spent most of my time being shuttled around by my friends or boyfriend.
I grew up in a small town and when I was in high school, gas still cost less than $1/gallon (because I am officially a million years old). There wasn't a lot to do--the only shopping was at Wal-Mart and back in the day, it wasn't a Super Wal-Mart, so it closed at night. In other words, we had to make our own fun, gas prices were not an issue, and The Buick was a party ready to happen.
I should add that my friends and I were "good kids." We behaved ourselves, we didn't get into trouble, we made good grades, we participated in extra-curriculars. In fact, one of the first times I took an excursion in The Buick was for a school project on Civil War cemeteries in our county. We drove way out to BFE (to clarify, this is not a literal place, although one of my high school friends truly believed it was actually a specific area outside of town where our friend Melissa lived... it's actually short-hand for butt-effing Egypt and just means any place that is far away and usually off on a gravel road). There is a Civil War cemetery out in BFE. So we hopped in The Buick, put Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album in the discman, and rocked out to "You Oughtta Know" as we cruised through the southwest Missouri countryside, searching for the graves of obscure Civil War soldiers.
But The Buick was not just for school projects! Come Friday night, we would load up in The Buick to go cruising. FYI: "cruising" consists of driving down the main street in our little town, pulling into the grocery store parking lot to turn around, and driving back down the strip to the other little grocery store parking lot. It's best done with four or five people in the car, but it's not unimaginable to cruise as an individual if you're trying to meet up with people. Repeat until (1) you run low on gas (2) you get invited to a party (3) you get someone to buy beer for your crew and then you drive outside the city limits to drink it. (I hear this sometimes happened.)
If it was nice out, we'd roll down the windows. If it was cold, we'd roll down the windows and blast the heater at the same time. Because we needed to be able to shout out the windows and sing at the top of our lungs, obviously.
Of course the whole point of cruising was to see other people out and about, and stop and talk to them so we could figure out where there was a party or what was going on. In this sense, it was important to have a recognizable car and a clear set of associations, so anyone who saw The Buick could reasonably expect to see our core little group of friends. We'd keep an eye out for the cars and trucks of people we knew, and then we'd pull up next to them in one of the two parking lots to talk. Sometimes we'd get out of the cars to sit on the trunk or up on tailgates to talk, but there was "No Loitering" allowed in either parking lot, so before too long, the police would come through and run us off. Then we'd get back in our cars, muttering anti-establishment comments, and go back to cruising until we saw someone else and stopped and pulled over and talked until a police car showed up. You get the pattern.
Occasionally we'd grow tired of cruising, or we'd hear about a party, and we'd take The Buick outside the city limits and head to Thirteen Curves (a particular stretch of country road) or Witch's Bridge, where there would be impromptu parties begun when more than one car showed up at the same spot and someone had beer. If we were feeling like jerks, or if we were holding a grudge against some of the people who were partying at these places, or if we were bitter that there was no one willing to buy us wine coolers (so classy!) we'd drive by without stopping and yell out the windows that the sheriff was coming, sending people scattering to their cars as we drove away, cackling wickedly.
Sometimes we'd invite other people to hop in The Buick and cruise with us. One particularly quiet summer night, we decided to create our own entertainment by "Trunk Cruising."
It was as brilliant an idea as it sounds. We had The Buick crammed full of people--three in the front, four in the back, and when we met up with a couple more people, we decided to just move some people to the trunk. Perfectly logical solution, right? (Not once did any safety concerns cross my mind. This seemed like a perfectly legitimate and legal way to entertain ourselves. I have since learned otherwise, but I think the first time I realized it wasn't a "normal" thing to do was when I told this story my freshman year of college and my new friends stared at me in shock that I would do something so stupid and think it was (1) acceptable and (2) funny.)
You need to keep in mind that in our small town (as in many small towns across the nation), Sonic is on the cruise route. So we bought Route 44 cokes with lime almost every night that we were out cruising. (You could also get a Route 44 water for a quarter).
This particular night, we pulled into Sonic with a carload of people and ordered two Cokes with lime. The carhop brought them to the car and Monica said, "Oh, but those are for the people in the back."
So the carhop obliging moved toward the back window to hand the Cokes into the car.
Then we all shouted, "No! The WAY back!" and Monica popped the trunk, allowing the two people in the trunk to sit up and take their Cokes with lime from the carhop.
TRUE STORY. IT WAS HILARIOUS.
Maybe you had to be there?
At least it was hilarious to us at the time. And anytime we re-tell the story (which is more often than you might think), we still think it's funny.
Once we were good and jazzed up on vast quantities of sugary caffeinated beverages, we decided to spice things up a little more. We switched things around so that another friend of ours ended up in the trunk with a boy she thought was cute. And we decided to drive around for a long time and give them the chance to get to know each other (because nothing says "romance" like the opportunity to get felt up in the dark and confined space of the trunk of a moving car). Cruising had gotten boring (imagine that) so we ventured off the beaten path.
If I remember correctly, Monica had actually turned the wheel of The Buick over to my high school boyfriend, and he was driving us around town when someone suggested we make a trip out to Deepwood Cemetery. I'm not sure if someone dared him or if he just got a wild idea in his head and made an announcement that was met with applause and shrieks of delight, but it was decided that we were going to jump the railroad tracks on the outskirts of town. As we approached the intersection, he floored it. Despite all the weight in the car, The Buick picked up speed and once we hit the tracks, The Buick was airborne!
Those of us sitting in the car were bounced around quite a bit as we whooped and cheered.
Those in the trunk fared slightly worse... And because we're good friends, we had the music playing so loud that we didn't even hear them banging somewhat frantically on the trunk for several minutes. And because we're idiots, it hadn't occurred to us that they might have actually gotten hurt jumping the railroad tracks.
As it turned out, our friend had a bloody lip and a big bump on her head, and whatever romantic interlude she might have been hoping for didn't exactly work out.
So those are just a few of our adventures in The Buick. Monica got a new car our senior year, but I like to think we all hold on to our dear memories of the LeSabre.
And really, if you think trunk cruising is stupid, you should let me tell you about the time my brother's friends decided to tie a shopping cart to the back of a car and pull each other around in it...
That's the thing about a small town Saturday night -- you've gotta be bad just have a good time.