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  • Ken Ilgunas

The accident

So I got in a bit of an accident the other day.

It’s strange how guilty I feel when I think about withholding some new development from the pages of this blog. For some reason, it’s become a sort of confessional.

I’m reluctant to share this one less because it’s a sin and more because it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.

My confession: I scraped the port side of my home against a stationary concrete cylinder on campus last week.

But what makes the accident all so much more embarrassing is that I had a female guest in the van when it occurred.

We were leaving the school library where we had gone to borrow DVDs. I drove to a stop sign to turn left to exit campus. One of the university buses pulled up in front of me and parked perpendicularly, leaving a narrow space for a tight left-hand turn.

Here’s my artistic rendition of the scene:

I started inching forward. Within seconds the van came to a halt because I felt my driver-side, rear tire press against a curb. I accelerated hard, hoping to power over the curb. Instead, I heard folding aluminum and pterodactyl shrieks. That wasn’t my tire against the curb; it was my van pressed against the cylinder.

The girl—who will remain unnamed—began giggling nervously. Now that the damage had been done, I tried to advance forth. My progress, however, was checked when I realized I was about to hit the parked bus. I had to reverse back to where I came from, the concrete clawing horizontal white stripes into the burgundy of my van all over again.

By this time, a crowd of students who had gotten off the bus had formed around the van. With each application of the gas pedal—as I pivoted the van against the concrete in reverse now—I’d hear excited “ooohhh’s!’ from the crowd whenever the metal crumpled as if they were responding to upper-cuts thrown in some impromptu street-fight.

Now, my female companion was seized with the sort of laughing-fit typical of insane asylums. My face turned a dark shade of pink and expletives dropped from my mouth like a brigade of paratroopers. Yet—even as my burgundy beauty was defaced—I couldn’t help but giggle a little, too.

For the next few days, looking upon the scratches and dents was as painful as if I was looking upon the burn scars on the face of a loved one. I resolved that I was going to get it fixed no matter what the cost. But as the days went by, I came to terms with the accident and decided that since there was no internal damage, I had to think of these unpleasant alterations as added “character.” Plus, the elaborate burgundy-to-black color scheme makes a paint job all-the-more impossible. Why fret about the look of a jacket that keeps its wearer warm?

The van—I’m afraid to admit—isn’t my only blunder of the week. When the same girl hopped onto my back, later on—under a similar spell of machismo-induced stupidity—I thought I’d impress her by performing a set of squat thrusts.

Because of that—for the past six days—I’ve been hobbling around campus like a pirate on a wooden leg, having badly strained my knee.

I can’t help but think of each injury—both to me and to the van—as scarlet letters that I’m now forced to wear: reminders of my transgressions, or, perhaps, warnings that I’ve stepped off course.

A woman can make a man do crazy things. While long-forgotten feelings awaken and unfurl, other parts fall into winter torpor. An eye’s glint of wildness is lost in the glazed gaze of love. Knees and van exteriors and a hundred other important things are rendered unimportant. That’s because a woman—more than anything—reminds a man that he’s alive while making him forget nearly everything else. Especially that he’s been ensnared.


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