February 14, 2002
My favorite Valentine's Day story

My alma mater, Trinity University, featured two all-school semi-formal dances per year, with the spring dance being, appropriately enough, a Valentine's Day dance. In 1987 during my junior year, my roommate Greg and our suitemates made plans to go to the spring fete, to be held at a downtown hotel.

(Historical footnote: There's a picture that survives from this event. I had really shaggy hair back then, and my only tie was a blue knit. Thankfully, there's no scanned image of this photo, so you're in no danger of seeing it any time soon.)

My roommate Greg drove a little white 1964 Volvo sports car, which I nicknamed Lazarus for its propensity to die and be brought back to life by providential forces. As the day of the dance approached, his car died on him again. He tried to start it but eventually gave up and called his sister Susie, who attended college at Our Lady of the Lake University, which is also in San Antonio. Susie drove over to the TU campus, gave the keys to Greg, hopped in the passenger's seat so he could drive her back to OLLU, and watched in horror as her car sputtered, gasped, and croaked. Yep, Greg had become an automotive serial killer. Nonetheless, I loaned him my beloved 1969 Nova to take Susie back to her campus, secure in the knowledge that my car could take care of herself.

So Greg called Dana, his date, and confessed his plight. No problem, said Dana, I just got my car back from my dad. Dad's a mechanic and he just tuned it up, so we'll use my wheels. Little did she know...

Now Greg is nothing if not romantic. He heard an ad on the radio for a Valentine's Day dinner special at a local Italian restaurant, featuring dinner for two, wine and dessert for a reasonable price. As V-Day was that Friday, the day of the dance, he made a reservation for 8 PM. The dance was slated to go from 9 PM to 1 AM.

We others, too cheap and/or unromantic to follow Greg's example, got to the dance at 9, just before a torrential downpour hit the River City. We ate, drank, danced, made merry, and as the hour grew later and their absence got more noticeable, speculated with increasing titillation as to just what the heck Greg and Dana were up to. Finally, one AM arrived with no sign of them. We headed home, and I wondered if I was going to find myself locked out of the dorm room.

The door was unlocked when we got there, so my date and I entered my room. There on the couch we found Greg and Dana, both fully dressed, slightly wet, and in Dana's case, a bit drunk. Greg told the sad tale: On the way down highway 281 in the midst of this biblical rainstorm, smoke and steam started pouring from under the hood of Dana's car. A radiator hose had burst, and the car had overheated. They were stuck. Fortunately, on such a night, freelance tow trucks cruised the freeways, and they didn't have to wait long before one showed up to tow them home. They glumly piled into the cab of the truck to discover that the driver's wife and two small children were also there. Apparently, Mrs. Driver didn't want her husband to be lonely on Valentine's Day, so she and the kids accompanied him for the night. Somehow, this made the ride back to campus a little nicer, albeit a lot more crowded. The rest of the evening was spent drying off and drinking wine.

When I first related this story to a coworker, it didn't strike me until I was finished that these events had taken place 10 years before. It's now been 15 years, and as I did then I wonder how Mr. and Mrs. Tow-Truck Driver are doing these days. Happy Valentine's Day to all, especially my old classmates and extra-especially to Greg, who only killed one more vehicle that year as far as I can recall.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 14, 2002 to See, I do have a life! | TrackBack

Love is a path to the heart that knows its own way.

Posted by: Lamar Cole on October 21, 2005 6:55 AM