Advertise With Us||Links||
Submission Guidelines||Subscribe to Feed||Contact
The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking
by Michele Christopher
I've done a lot of stupid things in my life. I'm pretty sure I'm not done doing stupid things. Which is fine, as it will make for interesting future columns, I guess. Or stories to tell my kids when I'm on my deathbed and want to leave them with some kind of lasting legacy. And by legacy, I mean stories they can tell at Christmas dinner about me after I'm gone that will get a laugh out of the grandchildren. What the hell, everyone laughs at me now. Might as well keep that mockery train running after I'm dead.
It's Car Week here at FTTW, so this is a great time to tell everyone the incredibly stupid things I've done involving cars.
Do people hitchhike anymore? You know, stand on the side of the road, stick your thumb out and wait for someone to pull over, offer you a ride and maybe kidnap, strangle and mutilate you? That's how I got around back in the day. Either we were very trusting as kids or very stupid. Given the title of this article, I'll let you figure that out.
Even after being picked up by a neighbor, a friend of my aunt's, a co-worker of my father's and a teacher, I still didn't give it up. Lecture on top of lecture did nothing for me. This was the 70's. We were fun-loving, caution-to-the-wind, free spirited kind of people! Read: stupid. There wasn't a whole lot of abductions in the news back then, and most scary hitcher stories had to do with ghosts rather than serial killers. And, being the naive, fantasizing young teenage girl I was, I always held out hope that some hot guy in an old Chevelle (with mag wheels, of course) would pick me up and we'd fall madly in love and drive off into the sunset and I'd call my parents from some romantic beach in Florida to tell them I wasn't ever coming home (but please send my stuff, thanks).
The last time I hitched a ride was in late 1979 when I was headed to the mall with two friends. Stuck my thumb out, tried to appear as sexy and alluring as an awkward, stoned, 16 year old girl in a denim jacket and torn jeans can appear. Actually, we weren't going for sexy and alluring. We found pathetic and needy worked better.
A station wagon pulled up alongside the road. That was a good sign. Despite my romantic notions of a hot guy in a muscle car, we knew that a station wagon was our best bet. Getting a ride from a suburban mom who picked us up just to save us from getting picked up by an insane madman was always the best scenario, lecture notwithstanding.
I leaned into the passenger window of the station wagon to see if the nice lady could get us all the way to the mall.
Staring back at me was a 30something man with an unsettling look in his eyes. A look that I didn't know then, but would recognize later as "lonely, desperate and insane." I glanced over at my friends. We were hesitant. Rain started to fall. We were about four miles from the mall.
We got in.
Stupid is, as stupid does.
I got in the front. My two friends got in the back.
About thirty seconds into the ride, the automatic door locks went down. Our driver smiled as he pushed the button.
My mind took about four seconds to come up with 7,000 scenarios, most of them involving torture, screaming, pain and grieving parents who stood in front of teenage-sized coffins shaking their heads and saying "I told her not to hitch hike!" I turned around and looked at my friends. Eyes wide. Mouths open. Faces white. Like little dolls frozen forever in terror. I could see it was going to be up to me to get us out of this.
I had a plan. I would talk to this guy. Be nice to him. Don't act afraid of him, just act like nothing at all is wrong and you just want to make small talk and find out a little about this nice, caring man who is driving three girls to the mall so they don't have to walk in the rain. It will catch him off guard. Yes, that was my entire plan. Again, stupidity.
I took a deep breath and slowly turned my head toward the guy. I was going to say something like "I had no idea it was supposed to rain today, thanks so much for saving us from walking four miles in this weather!" I put my fake smile on.
"I had no......"
The guy was smiling. A weird, creepy smile. He only had one hand on the steering wheel. The other hand was in his crotch. Where his dick hung out of his pants.
I blinked. Speechless. I actually watched for about two seconds as the guy carressed his rather limp and unimpressive ween. Not out of curiousity or anything like that, mind you. I watched because I wanted to make sure that's what I was seeing.
We stopped at a red light. He started to really go at it. I tried to signal to my friends what was going on but the dude was staring at me the whole time with a "don't say a word" look on his face. Torture, screaming, coffins........
Then he made this weird face. I was a good little girl. I had no idea what an "O" face was. Had I known, I would have realized that the guy was about ten seconds away from a money shot on his steering wheel. But not knowing exactly what was going on, I started to giggle. I mean, he looked really funny. Sitting there with this twitchy, spastic look on his face while furiously stroking his little dick. My one friend leaned over toward the front to see what I was laughing at. When she saw what the guy was doing - and the look on his face - she gasped and then started laughing.
The guy stopped what he was going, I'm sure about one stroke away from finsishing his deed. The safety locks popped open.
"Get out of my car."
I blinked again. What?
He pointed at the passenger door.
"All of you. Out. Now."
I guess we embarassed him. We got out of the car and stood on the side of the road in the now pouring rain, laughing until our guts hurt.
And then we got serious. Maybe it wasn't all that funny. The guy was deranged. A predator. Sicko. He should be locked up. He's a menace to society. A danger to children everywhere.
Oh. My. God. Did you see that face he made? And we went on laughing.
Not only did that event scare me off of hitching every again, but it made me afraid of sex for a while. Is that the face all guys make when they're about to blow their load? How would I ever keep a straight face?
I got over that eventually.
Believe it or not, hitch hiking was not my stupidest car trick. That belongs to skitching (well, maybe it belongs to drunk driving, but we're not going to get into the more sordid aspects of my early adult years yet).
Skitching is the fine art of grabbing onto the bumper of a car, bus or truck when there is snow or ice on the ground, and riding along with the vehicle until a) it stops (and you better know how to dig your heels into the snow to keep yourself from ending up under the car); b) you fall off (and you hope no other cars are behind you) or c) the driver realizes there is a stupid kid attached to his vehicle and he either yells out the window for you to get the fuck off his car or he starts fishtailing on purpose in which event you start remembering every prayer you ever learned in catechism and you make some kind of deal with god that if he lets you live you will never stick a firecracker up a frog's butt again.
And then you wait for another car and do it again.
Never underestimate the stupidity of youth or the addictive nature of the adrenaline rush.