On a particularly snowy day some 20 years ago, my phone rang mid-morning, not long after I had learned school was out and just before I started to curl back up in bed to enjoy the short vacation.
“What are you doing?” my friend Ron said.
“I was planning on going back to bed,” I said. “What are you doing?”
“Back to bed? We have no school today. Let’s go drive around.”
“Drive around?” I argued. “There’s a foot of snow on the ground.”
“Get dressed. I’ll be there in five minutes. Give me 10 minutes. The roads are bad.”
I fumbled around, threw some clothes on, gave the teeth a quick brush and picked a big crusty “eye booger” off my face. By that time, Ron was out front.
“Ron’s here!” my mother yelled.
Mom was strict, but she never thought it was peculiar that Ron would often pick me up anytime between 8 and 10 a.m. on the weekends – and now, on a snow day – just to “cruise.” She also never minded when I went riding around with Ron, who was a boy, for one, and an older boy, for another.
I told her we were going uptown, and out the door I went.
Ron had a sports car. I don’t remember what it was – a Camaro, Z-28, Trans Am maybe? (I know I’ll get ripped for not knowing that.) All I know is it was gold, and it wasn’t built for snow.
I climbed inside. It smelled like cloves and Aramis. Ron was grinning from ear to ear – a bright, wide smile. He had perfect, large, white teeth that almost glowed in the dark. He had let his hair grow kind of long. It was straight and almost jet black and shiny. He parted it on the side, and his bangs swept down over his eyes. If I would have had to define cool at that very moment, it would have been him.
“You’re going to get stuck,” I said.
“I’ve already been stuck twice today,” Ron said.
“How long have you been out?”
“Since about 8,” he said.
I never could figure out why morning people are morning people.
We headed west and made it two blocks and over the railroad tracks before sliding into the ditch.
We tried pushing the car out ourselves, but the ditch was too steep, and we were wienies. Some farmer in a four-wheel-drive truck stopped and gave us some extra muscle. We were back on the street in no time.
We drove around for hours talking, laughing, listening to our kooky music – The Cure, The Pixies, Book of Love, 10,000 Maniacs. We slid off the road a couple more times but were able to rescue ourselves.
At some point, Ron pulled over and played “Verdi Cries.”
I wept, and told him right then I wanted that song played at my funeral. I still wouldn’t mind if that happens.
I don’t remember much else about that day, other than we were gone all day long, and I didn’t get home until after dark. I’m sure we picked up Geoff and Tony along the way, scarfed a Number 4 and cheese fries at the Dairy Mart and swung by Gina’s house, too. We probably rode around on a tank of gas that cost less than $10.
Even though I only remember a few details, those details are precious to me, and I rank that day as my best snow day ever.
Joseph couldn’t wait to get out of the house this morning. He woke up about 9 a.m., took a shower, did the dishes from last night and headed out the door. I didn’t argue. I thought of Ron.
I hope this is Joseph’s best snow day ever. But if he gets stuck, … he’s on his own.