The day after my senior prom I drove my date, Patti, down to Horseneck Beach in my VW Beetle to meet my schoolmates. We couldn’t find them in the parking lot and she suggested that we cruise the beach road in hopes that they might have migrated from the crowded public area. Patti was a pretty girl and I told her that she reminded me of Faye Dunaway in THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.
“You’re just saying that.” The honey blonde was a junior at the local Catholic girls school.
“No, but I’m no Steve McQueen.” I looked over to the beach and remembered the scene from the movie, where McQueen’s character races a souped-up VW over the dunes and I turned the steering wheel hard and stepped on the gas. She laughed nervously, as we sped along the shore. This lark lasted until my tires sunk into the sand. I tried to rock it out of the trap, but succeeded in burying the tires deeper.
“I think the tide is coming in.” Patti was right.
“You wait here.” I ran to the West Beach Bar. A derelict towtruck was parked outside. I entered the bar. The three men inside laughed at me and the oldest said, “Let me guess. You got your car stuck in the sand.”
“You’re the second one today. $15 to get it out.” His face was lined with worries. Few of them were his own.
“I have $10.” I guessed a lot of young men thought that they were Steve McQueen at this beach.
“Ten is it.” He put his beer on the bar and walked out to his truck. We returned to my VW. The water was up to the engine in the rear. The man attached chains to the front chassis and hauled my car to the road.
“Thanks.” Patti was grateful for the help.
“You wanna drink some beer with me.” The older man was asking her.
“No, I came with him.”
“Just thought I’d asked, because if you’re stupid enough to go with someone who gets stuck in the sand, then I thought you might be stupid enough to go with me.” The tow truck driver pulled away from us and Patti laughed with relief.
I dropped her home before dark.
I never touched her.
I was stupid and not just for getting stuck in the sand.