Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chris and the GTI

Chris, as a teenager, had a propensity for crashing cars. I think that most of the accidents could be attributed, quite simply, to inexperience . . . or to engaging the gears of the car before engaging the gears of his brain. The one that we all remember most clearly was when he wrecked his Dad's VW Rabbit GTI, the American version of the high performance Golf GTI - truly a hot little car.

It seems to me that Chris had been going on a Saturday outing with his (then) girlfriend's family - I think it was to the air show in Hillsboro, but I could be mistaken about that. Dan, Tim and I were out that morning, also, just running typical weekend errands.

When we got home, lying on the kitchen counter were Chris' driver's license, the car keys, and a note, written in his own scrawly handwriting. The note read something like this: "I know you'll be wanting these, so here they are. I had an accident. I'm not hurt. Dad's car is parked in the parking lot at Select Groceries. I'm at the airshow [?]. Back tonight. [signed] Chris."

Of course, Dan dashed over to take a look at his sweet car, which, as he discovered, was no longer so sweet. Among other things, the frame was bent, and Dan determined it could never be restored satisfactorily.

It was before the days of cell phones, so we had to wait until that evening to get the rest of the story from Chris. He had been driving down Hwy. 99, which runs right through Newberg. A package of gum, which had been on the dash, fell on the floor, and Chris leaned over (while still driving) to pick it up. Sadly, the truck, ahead of him, slowed to a stop. And Chris didn't. That was one very expensive package of gum, before the day was over.

The GTI had been Dan's all-time favorite car, hands down. Of course, he was thankful that Chris hadn't been hurt, but, none the less, he truly grieved over the loss of his car.

Years later, after Chris was grown and on his own, Dan commented on a new Mustang he had bought. "I think I even like this better than my GTI,"* said Dan. (That was before he tried driving it in Juneau, in the snow.) I remember Chris' response, "Dad, you don't know how long I've been waiting to hear you say those words!"

Since then we've had a number of vehicles that both Dan and I have enjoyed, and, of course, it's unlikely that Dan would still have that little 1980's vehicle, even if it hadn't been crashed. But, for some reason, that doesn't seem to relieve the little heartache that's rekindled every time he's reminded of his little white Rabbit GTI.

*Edit: After Dan read this post, he corrected me on the quote about the Mustang. He says he didn't say he liked it "better," but that he "might like it as much as" the GTI. (I told you there is still a little heartache inside him!)

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