“Oh what a night!” I used that phrase many a times working with residence life in college and after I graduated college. I usually said it after a ridiculous night of dealing with several incidents involving residents and their poor choices. I say it because I’m usually aghast at the comicalness and complexity of the situations I had just encountered. There was not much I could say but, “oh what a night.”
Tonight, I used that phrase. I would like to retell every single detail of all that happened tonight after 10 p.m. but to do so would require more paragraphs and writing than my brain can handle at 4 a.m. I do need to tell some of it though because it’s just too good not to.
Tonight, Matt and I were invited to go with our married-couple friends, Christine and Dayv, to a bigger city about two hours away. They needed to pick up their car and wanted to go to dinner at Hu-Hot Mongolian Grill. We thought it’d be nice to spend time with them and get away from small town. It was also Christine’s birthday yesterday so it would be a good way to celebrate it.
Dinner in itself was an adventure. Matt had never been to a Hu-Hot before so watching him experience everything was…fun. At Hu-Hot, you go through a line where you pick your own raw meats (chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, etc), the vegetables you want, and pile them in a bowl with the different sauces you want. Then you bring it to a big grill and the chefs cook it in front of you. It’s kind of a neat concept. I’ve only been to Hu-Hot once and I was able to remember the combination of foods I liked so I decided to play it safe and get those same foods. Dearest Love of Mine went through the line and selected the meat and vegetables he wanted without giving it a single hesitation, like a pro. It wasn’t until we arrived at the sauce station when I saw the stress in his eyes as an overwhelming sensation arose. There were over 16 sauces to pick from. (I panicked also until my eyes rested upon the label of the one that was familiar.) Matt decided to follow a recipe listed on a board hanging from above the sauces, thinking he could play it safe this way. That made complete sense because the people who wrote the board know what they’re doing. I happened to look up at one point and saw the label listed above the last sauce he was scooping ladles of into his bowl: “Khan’s revenge.” Now, I don’t know who Khan was and I don’t know what he was trying to avenge but I do know that any sauce with the word “revenge” in it would not be pleasant to the tongue. And oh, was I correct. (Dayv had also done the same thing to his dishes and combined a whole bunch of spicy sauces.)
I tasted some of Matt’s food after it was cooked and it took less than 15 seconds before my tongue felt like it was being dragged through a campfire. Then the burning sensation spread to my lips and up to my nose. All of a sudden, my nose and eyes started watering, and my mouth started doing its own version of CPR which consisted of choking, gagging, and breathing weird, in an attempt to save itself. Goodness, one bite did all of this. Matt had already eaten quite a bit and was still determined to eat some more so he wouldn’t be wasting food; I don’t know how he was handling all of that. The glasses of water we ordered were greatly helpful but inconveniently, our waiter was nowhere to be found when we needed refills. I sat in silence for about a minute trying to process why my senses were betraying me with this confusion and hoped that things would return to normal soon. I recovered after many more sips of water and figured that since I was okay, everyone else was okay, also. It wasn’t until about 10 minutes later that I discovered this wasn’t true. “I can almost feel my lips again,” Matt said. I chuckled in shock but completely felt his pain. Khan got his revenge indeed. Good grief. Our second plate tasted much better and did not involve Khan.
After eating and on our way out of the city, we picked up the second car and drove to a nearby gas station to fill up. Both cars needed gas so I figured I had time to run inside quickly to use the restroom. When I emerged from the building, I saw Christine standing by the car surrounded by six junior high girls.
“Hold the phone, you need to get where?” she asked them in shock. At the same time, they all started chirping their answers at her. “Oh no,” was my immediate thought. I overheard “we need a ride,” “hitchhike,” “it’s cold,” and “please” among the answers. After conversing with Dayv, it was agreed upon to give the girls a ride to where they needed to go.
These thoughts ran through my head as my hesitation grew:
1) What if people think we’re kidnapping these girls?
2) Are they really going home or are we taking them to a boy’s house or a stranger’s house?
3) What if they end up saying we tried to do something inappropriate to them?
4) WHERE are their parents?
5) Where are their COATS?
6) Was I like this and this chatter-y when I was in junior high?
Three girls piled into the car Christine and I were in and the other three climbed into the car the guys were in. Those three girls apparently rushed to the guys’ car exclaiming, “I’m riding with the guys cause they’re cute.” (The small, tiny, almost non-existent junior high girl in me wanted to get jealous but immediately I caught myself and smiled cause I knew better.)
The girls riding with us were intense and passionate. They talked about hitchhiking, bloody noses, Perkin’s muffins, and mozzarella sticks. Then their conversation changed to their friend being a Muslim, to Steven’s house being on that one street, and how they liked spinach and broccoli but not vegetables and how it was stupid that the Cookie Monster became the Veggie Monster. I, being the old person that I am, wanted them to have hopes and dreams beyond doing illegal things and puppets so I wanted to ask them what their life goals were, what their favorite subject in school is, and where they plan to be in five years (hopefully graduating from high school or close to it). I didn’t have time to voice my questions though because they just had a lot to say. Like, a lot.
The more interesting topic their lively voices spoke of was church, which peaked my interest because it would have been a perfect segue into talking to them about Jesus. (If I couldn’t talk to them about being the future leaders for their peers, I could talk to them about Jesus.) But it wasn’t a perfect segue. Christine mentioned how it was good that we picked them up because maybe God just wanted us to be there for them, and this conversation ensued:
Girl 1 – “oh, I love God.”
Girl 2 – “Yeah, I go to church, I love God too. [She must have remembered an experience sometime in church because then, she asked,] Wait, isn’t serving alcohol to a minor illegal?”
Me – “Are you talking about communion?”
Girl 2 – “Yeah.”
Christine – “It’s different in a religious setting.”
Girl 1 – “I feel so weird eating God though.”
Girl 3 – “I don’t do that. My parents want me to but I told them I never want to go back to church again.”
Girl 1 – “My grandma wanted to go to a different church than where we usually go because the music is too loud, so we went to this tiny church. I was like, ‘oh, small churches are cute,’ except it was like a cult. After the service, they all approached me and wanted to talk to me in private …”
Me – “What? What church was this?”
Girl 1 – “I don’t know, it was small and cute, and a cult.”
I was appalled, and I wanted to laugh, but before I had the chance to talk about it some more, the topic changed to the different nicknames they had for each other.
Several times during their conversations, Christine and I couldn’t look at each other because we’d just end up laughing. There was so much I wanted to talk to them about, so many questions to ask them about why they thought the way they thought. I had so much knowledge and wisdom I wanted to impart on them, life lessons that I could just tell them about so they could skip it and move on to being mature (because I came to the realization that I was a lot like them when I was in junior high) but there wasn’t enough time. I felt so hopeless when they got out of the car.
We finally got to the street where they wanted to be dropped off and after the girls exited both cars, squealed and giggled when they met up from being apart for about 20ish minutes, and said their thank-yous and goodbyes to us, Christine and I went to the guys’ car to debrief. We exchanged stories on how the girls acted and what they talked about. We also wondered what would have happened to these girls if we hadn’t have given rides to these girls. I don’t know how they would have made it to this place 20 miles away. After a few minutes, the looming two-hour drive back home dawned upon us and we returned to the car to start the trek home.
The drive back was uneventful for the most part. The guys led the way for about 1/3 of the trip until we finally overtook them and went ahead. About 30 miles from home, and less than a mile from the exit we would take, I saw a car pulled over to the right side of the road. I tried to form words to tell Christine to engage the “Move Over Law” but it was too late. It wasn’t until we were up close and passing the car that I saw the lights on top of the car and told her that it was a cop car. Christine kept driving, unperturbed by the situation but still curious of whether the car had followed us. I turned around completely and unashamedly and looked out the rear window to see if the car had moved. We weren’t sure at first but decided it was a yes when we saw a second pair of headlights moving closer to us at a much faster rate than the speed limit allowed. The car came almost right along side of us in the left lane and cruised along for a good 30 seconds.
“It can’t be a cop car, its lights would have gone off by now,” I told her, mostly trying to reassure myself.
My phone beeped and I entered the unlock code to see why it had made a noise. “I think that’s a police officer by Christine” was the text I received from Matt and read aloud. As soon as I finished reading that text, to the millisecond, the lights turned on and started flashing. “Yup” was my response to him. I looked ahead and by this time, our exit was 50 meters in front of us, so close, actually, that when we eventually pulled over to the side of the road, we were in the exit.
I said a quick prayer for grace, calm nerves, and patience, then prepared myself to be interrogated. You see, I’ve never been pulled over before so I have no idea what would happen. All that kept flashing through my mind were scenes from the show “Caught On Camera” where some of the people getting pulled over apparently do nothing wrong but yet somehow still make the cop angry and so they tase those in the vehicles. It was way too cold to be tased. I made sure my hands were visible (because I feel like people get panicky when they can’t see your hands in situations like this), Christine rolled down her window, and we both sat in anticipation for the officer to reveal his or her face to us through the window.
I was startled when I heard a knock on my door. My immediate thought was that there were two cops and how now I could now be tased from both sides of the car. Awesome. It turns out there was only one cop, a state trooper actually, and he knocked on my side of the door because it was safer for him and he wouldn’t be in danger of getting hit by oncoming traffic. He introduced himself and told us why he pulled us over. I didn’t expect this. From what I’ve seen on TV (great source of research here, huh?), usually the cop asks you why you think they pulled you over then they give you a speech of some sort. This officer went straight to the point. Christine explained the situation (it was Dayv’s car, they drove it back from his dad’s, we were going to this city to pick up her car which Dayv and Matt were in and they were now ahead of us, the car is new to them so the insurance is in the mail but there was temporary insurance) and proceeded to show him the insurance papers. Then she also asked if he wanted to see her driver’s license before he asked to see it. Smart move on her part, way to be proactive! The officer looked at the papers, looked at her license, asked me for some sort of I.D., took my license, and asked Christine to go to his car with him. He told me to “hang tight” to which I responded with suave, “will do.” I don’t even know where that response came from.
“Hang tight.” Um, to what? What does that even mean?! I frantically took out my phone and scream-texted Matt all the possible scenarios that could result from this trip. If my legs weren’t shaking so much and my heart wasn’t beating so fast and it wasn’t so cold outside, I would have considered putting my plan of running away from the car into action, but I figured that would make me look suspicious of something, and that would probably result in me getting tased. Apparently, the thought of being tased terrifies me.
After what seemed like an hour but in actually was probably only about 15 minutes, Christine returned to the car. The first words I hear from her were, “nope, nothing.” I was ready for tears, I was ready to comfort, I was ready to be sympathetic and remind how this could not be worse than the incident with Bobby S. (grrr, Bobby S.), but none of that needed to happen. The officer didn’t give her a ticket or even a warning. A smiled peeled across my face.
We pulled away from the side of the road and into our exit. I panicked when I saw that the state trooper car was still behind us but when Christine explained that he needed to get back on the interstate, I calmed down. The guys had taken the next exit so we got back on the interstate, took the following exit and met them at the McDonald’s parking lot. They had kindly ordered us our favorites – Christine’s blue Powerade drink and my mango pineapple smoothie – just in case we would need some happy boosters. We both parked, they climbed into the backseat of our car and we told them the story detail by detail, leaving nothing out. While the story was being told, we shivered and shook and laughed, hoping to release our nervousness and calm the adrenaline sprinting through our bodies.
After the realization that it was almost 1 a.m., the guys returned to their car so we could continue the trip home. Matt took over the driving in their car and I in our car and we set out to complete the last leg of the trip.
“That was so fun!” I can’t remember if Christine exclaimed it first or if I did but we both agreed, laughing. This was an adventure we could add to our list of adventures we’ve taken in our lives together. The list had taken a break since we graduated from college. We laughed as we recalled stories and moments. I felt like we became junior high girls for the last part of the trip. Though we thought it was fun, I don’t think the guys were as enthused as she and I were. When we pulled into the driveway and got out of the cars, I could see it in their demeanor. They were exhausted but relieved at the fact that nothing happened.
Oh what a night indeed! Once the nervousness wore off, I realized the gravity of the situation and all that could have become, not only from the cop but also with the girls. Though, don’t tell the guys but I kind of still think it was fun!
We have three more birthday trips to take in the next three months (out of the four of us, we were each born in the months of January through April). I wonder what adventures will come from those… hopefully nothing involving cops, flashing lights, the cold, or tasers.