It was me and the Lacrosse Dads. Yes, there are some moms who chauffer to the Sunday morning games, but mostly that’s Dad’s job. And even the moms who do chauffer are different than me in at least one noticeable respect: they all seem to be able to talk about lacrosse in an intelligent, knowledgeable way. I’m so out of my league there. What’s “double balling”? What’s “slashing”? I feel like I sound like a four-year-old.
But once we all got into our cars and started down the long, winding road to the bottom of the mountain, we were all pretty much in the same boat.
Black ice: The great equalizer. Cars spinning out and ramming into other cars everywhere you looked. I threw my SUV into a low gear and started crawling down the mountain. The car in front of me got hit. Then the car behind me. It was like God was playing marbles with these cars– that’s how simple it was for one driver to completely lose control and careen into another.
I pulled over to gather my wits and immediately realized we were sitting ducks for another swerving car. So I yelled to my teenage son and his two friends to get out of the car and we stood for a moment on someone’s front lawn, collecting ourselves. The next car that got hit flew right up onto the lawn next to us. No place was safe.
The boys didn’t think it was a good idea, but I convinced them to get back in the car so we could make our way down the mountain. My husband accuses me of driving like a grandmother, and for once I wore that distinction with pride. Five miles an hour, blinkers flashing, not even taking a breath until we were on flat terrain. Then a big exhale once we got into Friendly’s parking lot.
These boys don’t know me well enough to know shaken I was. They all ordered big plates of breakfast food from Veronica The Waitress Who Knows Everyone’s Name and within two bites they had forgotten about what had just transpired. “Jessica, Jessica! This waitress knows the names of ALL the lacrosse players!” they told me.
It was true. She had met some of them once, two weeks ago, and she started rattling off the names of their entire team. It was a feat that, even I had to admit, was worth my stopping the countless phone calls to my Lifelines, trying to get a beat on the weather and the highway conditions.
By all accounts, we had another 90 minutes until the earth would warm enough to melt the street ice. It was a 40-minute drive home – all highway. All highway that traverses mountains. I looked around the Friendly’s and imagined hunkering down there until Spring.
Once breakfast was finished, the boys were antsy to get on our way.
“I want to stay here for a while,” I told them.
“Like an hour,” I said.
They all started moaning, but then the tallest one said, “Well, I am still kinda hungry.” He’s 15 years old, six-foot-three, and by his own description, an eating machine.
“So let’s get lunch!” I said. As Veronica cleared our breakfast dishes, she brought lunch menus, and the three of them ordered another full meal apiece.
Not to toot my own horn but these boys like me -- mostly because every time we’re together, I ply them with food. (They love Veronica The Waitress, too; they’re not all that difficult to charm.) I sometimes wonder, when I’m carting them all here or there, whether I should act a little more grown up around them. Stop cranking the car radio when Bowie comes on, stop cracking up at their not-always-appropriate teenage-boy jokes. Maybe a few more lectures here and there about what’s important in life. They are all so lovable and full of life, it’s easy to forget that they're not just my companions, they’re my responsibility. That sometimes I’m literally holding their lives in my hands.