It was July 3rd. It’s one (of many) family traditions to attend a firework show at a particular high school in the vicinity. I’m not talking little shoot-off-firecrackers-you-bought-on-the-side-of-the-road firework performance. I’m talking colossal explosions of brilliant colors dominating the night sky and decorating the brain. As is usual with such extravaganzas, we travel in numbers. Friends, families, and the bums off the street are welcome. It is, without fail, constant chaos. Gathering food, drinks, lawn chairs, blankets, night clothes, bodies, and getting all into cars to travel across town is always an experience. Ultimately the kids, i.e. anyone under the age of twenty, sit in the car while the adults run around like madmen attempting to congregate all ingredients necessary for the excursion that really just comprises sitting on a football field for four hours.
I was fourteen. I had ventured from the volatile car environment multiple times in efforts to get to the haven my room provided only to be yelled at, “We are leaving right this second, get back in the car!” every time. I complied every time. However, after forty minutes and patience had elapsed, an idea accosted my brain. I climbed over limbs, juice boxes, and elbows from the back of the van to the driver’s seat. I sat for a moment surveying the puzzle before me. There were inordinate amounts of buttons. The keys were in the ignition. I turned them. Nothing happened. I turned them more. The big white stalker van roared beneath me and the music blared. I concluded it would, in fact, be a smart decision to put the children-occupied car in reverse and turn it around. Just so the whole process of exiting the driveway went a bit faster. One of my friends lunged forward from the back seat. Her parent’s had already taught her. Push foot on brake. Check. Move stick thing by the left-hand side of the steering wheel. Check. Hit gas. Check. Except that just as I hit the gas my brother came walking toward the front of the vehicle. Except that instead of reversing, the car shot forward. He swears to this day I almost ran him over.