Making the news and an '81 Cutty

Picture it. 1989. I was riding shotgun with my best friend Brad Stefanov A.K.A. Mr. Sparkle. We were out cruising in his 81 Cutlass Supreme just like we did every weekend. He always wanted to go drive up and down High Street on campus, but I  knew that I had to stay close to avoid getting grounded. So we would roam the streets of Northeast Columbus like a couple of rebels without a clue. The top of the airport parking garage became a local hang out.  Daddy'O's in Whitehall was the grub spot. And, as long as I was in by 10, we ruled the world around Gahanna, Ohio.

One particular Saturday an incredible thing happened. The girls we tried to flirt with in another car actually flirted back. It was amazing! We spotted them in the parking lot at Northland Mall, then drove beside them as we made our way down Morse Road. At every light we chatted them up, and they chatted us back. By the time we got to Sunbury Road, we were feeling like kings. And then they got into the left turn lane.

As we sat at that last light we debated whether we should follow or not. The arrow changed and they made the turn. Brad hit the gas too, only we were going straight. Too close to curfew. And it took us a moment to realize that, in the excitement of having real girls talk to us, my friend had just ran that red light, as our direction stayed red while they got the arrow.

Brad and I still laugh about that night 25 years after it happened. But it was one of a myriad of examples of distracted driving moments I can remember from my youth, long before we knew what a text message was. I used to see how fast I could drive my mom's car from the school to our house after practice.  Brad and I used to listen to 2 Live Crew as loud as his factory speakers would let us. And I will never forget the kid who caused a chain reaction crash on Havens Corners Road while yelling at a friend my senior year. 7 or 8 cars got damaged because that guy looked the other way for a second.

When I first heard of the protest I blogged about last night, these were the moments that came to mind. For me it wasn't about the issue they were protesting that caused alarm. it was more about the distraction it was going to cause with a few hundred student drivers all converging at the same time. A picture of a dead fetus is hard to ignore. As I said last night, wrong time, wrong place. Distracted driving to the nth degree.

When I discovered today that they were planning a return trip on Friday my stomach turned. See, we were all caught off guard by yesterdays event. Parents did not find out this was happening until 11 am. But given a few days to plan, and I am betting there will be some angry Moms and Dads ready for a meet and greet with these clowns.

I emailed 10TV reporter Shelby Croft, who had a blurb on and told her that I would expect this story to be bigger by week's end. I did not leave contact information with her, but she tracked down my work number and called me. She asked a few questions, then asked if I would do an interview as the parent of two kids at GLHS. I told her I would and we agreed to meet at the school at 6:15 pm.

Another parent, someone I have a great deal of respect for, also came to discuss the events with the journalist. We discussed our concerns about the protests and what the real issue is for us as  parents. I spoke about lack of common sense and the need to let parents explain tough issues to their kids, not have a bunch of fanatics do it for them. The superintendent also made an appearance, and all of us will be on the 11 o'clock telecast on Channel 10. Not my first time on the news, nor any way I ever thought I would be on there. But standing up for my guys and other kids felt pretty good at the time.

I said it last night and I will again tonight. You can have your fight. Be pro-life or pro-choice. I do not care. Not my circus, not my monkeys. But please, try to find a shred of common sense in what you are doing. Because your efforts at "Shock value" and stirring the pot are more like Westboro Baptist than any real activist group I have ever seen. Before long y'all will be drinking the green kool aid and selling room in your bunkers for y2k.

Day #562. 11 O'Clock news? Seriously? There is a better chance of me winning a marathon tonight than there is of me being up at that hour. Thank God for DVR. It is good to be me!


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