The Time I Lost My Mom’s Friend’s Mercedes

lost

Once there was a boy I liked called Brady. The feeling was mutual, although shortly after discovering this, he’d moved to New York from the small city we’d grown up in. To further complicate the matter, he now had a live-in girlfriend. For these reasons, we’d never acted on whatever impulse existed between us.

Brady returned home for Thanksgiving one year, calling me on the phone first to let me know that things were not stellar in his romantic life. I would be lying if I said this hadn’t made me slightly giddy, but I played it cool and made plans with some mutual friends to go out as a group for dinner, drinks, and dancing one night during his visit.

Secretly, Brady and I made plans to meet one-on-one the same night, just to reconnect and see if any spark remained. He picked me up in his mom’s pristine champagne Mercedes, and we drove together to a favorite coffee shop of mine. Winter had come early that year and there was snow on the ground. I thought it would be nice to get cozy and caffeinated with him before dinner. We parked on a street I always parked on. Residential and easy to remember because I’d once attended dance classes on the same street.

Fast-forward to after cozy coffee time (which had gone pretty well, if you ask me), we made the slushy trek back to the car. And it was not there.

We started at the end of the block, and we walked to the other, and it was definitely not there. We backtracked. Still no car. Well, maybe we had just gotten the wrong block. So we walked further down the street. And further. No car.

Needless to say, we totally panicked. It wasn’t even his car. It was his mom’s. And it was a Mercedes. This was before iPhones, before even texting had become widespread. So we actually had to have a conversation of who to send messages to, what with my 150 limited messaging plan. Brady didn’t even have a texting plan. We decided we couldn’t send a text to any of our friends and trust them to not send millions of messages back, thus spiking my phone bill through the ceiling. In retrospect, we should have called, but not much was making sense at the time. How could we lose an entire car? It was so big. It didn’t fall down a storm drain.

Brady started looking for signs of broken glass. There weren’t any. “But, maybe you left it unlocked?” I asked. The very suggestion of this being his fault colored his face frostbite red. “Well, you’re the one who told us to park here!” We dove headfirst into an argument, whatever mood we’d cultivated before shriveling into a sad pile in the dirty sidewalk snow.

Finally, and mostly because it was cold, we stopped trading jabs and decided we had to do something besides pace angrily while car thieves absconded with the Mercedes across the Canadian border. So we called the cops to report it missing. They asked for the plates and model and told us they were on the way.

Brady and I didn’t say much to each other as we waited in the cold for the cops to arrive. After fifteen minutes had passed, I texted a friend to let them know we weren’t coming. As soon as I’d sent it, a cop car rolled around the corner, siren off but lights flashing. The car stopped right in front of us and a tall, mustached officer stepped out, grinning.

“You the kids who reported a missing car?”

We nodded. “Get in the car,” he said. “It’s cold.”

We looked at each other, nonplussed. “Are we under arrest, officer?” I ventured.

He waved a hand dismissively. “No, no, it’s just cold, and I think we should file the report somewhere warm.”

We were too tired to argue at this point, and we were cold so this seemed like a pretty good idea. We got in the car. His partner drove to the end of the block, turned right, and turned right again at the first street. He pulled up next to a champagne colored Mercedes, and our jaws dropped. We had been walking down the wrong street the whole time.

The man with the mustache turned to face us with that same grin. “I believe this is your stop, kids. Drive safely now!”

He waved us out the door, and as they drove away, we sent our raucous laughter skyward into the wintry night.

(photo courtesy of Maloy40/Dreamstime.com)

About Kristina May Babbitt

Kristina May lives in the SF Bay Area, teaching writing to elementary and middle school students. She is the co-writer of The LETTERHEADS Podcast, a scripted episodic comedy about a dysfunctional writing group.

About Kristina May Babbitt

Kristina May lives in the SF Bay Area, teaching writing to elementary and middle school students. She is the co-writer of The LETTERHEADS Podcast, a scripted episodic comedy about a dysfunctional writing group.

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