Are we facebook friends? We should be. KATIE MULDER. Hi. I don’t play FarmVille. Please don’t ask. Anyway, I bring this up because I’ve received no less than 5 queries about my father’s “bridge” comment the other day on one of my updates. My father is a ruthless man, with little tact and less patience. We may be the same person, except I’ve never shot a deer with half a rack. I’d like to thank him for bringing this little event out of the closet. In the interest of full-disclosure, here goes:
The summer of my Junior year at A&M, I packed up my s-10 truck and headed to Houston. I picked up Lanny and we headed East on I-10… planning to land eventually in Black Mountain, North Carolina. He was working at the Boy’s camp (Timberlake) and I was working at the Girl’s camp (Merri-Mac).
Now, it’s no secret that I have awesome luck. If you can sing a song in front of 2,000 people with the back of your sassy red shirt tucked into your pants, I will do it. If you can lock yourself in your own chicken coop and not be missed by your family, I will do it. If you can develop a very rare but unmedically-threatening case of hives in your 3rd trimester that leaves everyone in your family miserable, I will do it. We’ll stop there. My esteem is fragile these days.
We needed to get to Lanny’s gramma’s house in Baton Rouge that night. That was the goal. Lanny offered to drive and I was happy to oblige after my 4-hour solo to Houston. Around the 3/4 tank mark, I verbally noted a billboard concerning gas and filling up and alligators. Lanny assured me we were fine. My truck, but whatever. I fell asleep. At dusk, I was awaked by Lanny frantically turning the car key back and forth in the ignition.
[l] “Something’s wrong with your truck. It just… quit. It just stopped.”
As I come out of my sleep, I notice we are on a bridge. I notice there is about 1/2 a car’s worth of shoulder.
[l] “I think I know what happened. I think we ran out of gas.”
I see a mile marker and get out the Rand McNally’s.
[k] “We’re on I-10?”
[k] “Would this be the Atchafalaya Bridge?”
[l] “I think so.”
The Atchafalaya Bridge spans 18+ miles. It’s the 8th longest bridge in the world. There are warning signs about running out of gas. Help can only get to you by entering at the beginning of the same side you are stranded on.
The cop saw us as he was headed west-bound. He turned on the sirens (why not), ran out the rest of the west-bound lanes (10 miles), turned east-bound, and pulled up along side us. I pushed Lanny to the front.
The cop’s shotgun is mounted between himself and the passenger seat.
He is unhappy.
[k+l] “Yes, sir. We’re idiots.”
[cop] “I’m going to use my cruiser to push you off the bridge. I’ve radioed for a tow to bring you enough gas to get you to the first exit. Have $50 ready. Now get in, put her in neutral, and I don’t wanna ever see you two again.”
I’m pretty sure that’s when I started crying and Lanny became a man. We got pushed down 10 miles of America’s longest Alligator bridge and paid $50 for 1/2 a gallon of gas. We made it Lanny’s gramma’s house long after dark but safe and sound. I, of course, called my dad. I tried to play off the gas/bridge thing as funny and adventurous but lost that bet when I started crying (again). Seriously. Running out of gas on a bridge with no shoulder. Unbelievable.
Eventually, we made it to North Carolina. We did. I slept for about 3 days straight. The stress. Boys. Bah. But, as luck would have it, that summer was the best summer of my life. Truly. That summer, I met Sunday and Jess and Annie and Claire and Baxter and a handful of others who would play a large part in me becoming me. It was that transitional time in college when things started to click… where I went out on my own and realized I was ok.
But, those are stories for another time.