By Molly Beth Griffin
It was a really embarrassingly stupid thing to do, and I did it twice.
The first time was in high school when a friend and I drove downtown for an event at an art museum. I felt all grownup heading off alone like that. But I don’t even remember what the event was, because we never made it inside. Instead, I locked the keys in the car… with the car running. We just had to wait there, next to the car in the museum parking lot, while my mom drove in with the spare key to rescue us. We waited, in the rain. And the best part? We were both wearing white t-shirts. Awesome. When my mom showed up we were lying on the hood of the humming car in our soaked clothes, trying to stay warm. Maybe I wasn’t as grown-up as I thought.
So it would be bad enough to admit to doing this ONCE, but then, in college, I did it again. I was driving some friends from our tiny college town into Iowa City for shopping and lunch and general hanging out. And once again, I felt cool. I felt like an adult. I was the one with a car, I knew where I was going and I could get us there. We were going to get Indian buffet for lunch, stock up on good food at the co-op, and browse the ped mall. Instead, as I was fishing for change to feed the meter, I managed to lock the keys in the car with the car running, again. It was, once again, raining. We had to use the phone at a nearby café at least half a dozen times—nobody had cell phones in those days—and then we had to hang out there, with the running car in sight, while we waited (forever) for AAA. Oh, the shame. I was not the self-sufficient adult I thought I was. I was an irresponsible kid who shouldn’t be trusted with a car. And my friends now knew it. The memory of it burns to this day.
And yet, friends forgive us for these things, when they are real friends. I’m still in touch with the gal from high school who was with me for adventure #1. We swap photos of our toddlers on Facebook. She probably doesn’t even remember the keys incident (she won’t until I send her this blog post, anyway). One of the friends from the college key debacle actually married me. So maybe I looked stupider to myself than I did to the others. Maybe I should stop feeling dumb about it. Maybe I should let it go. We all do stupid things, right? Sometimes we even do stupid things more than once. And life goes on.
Molly Beth Griffin is the author of the picture book Loon Baby (Houghton Mifflin 2011) and the award winning young adult novel Silhouette of a Sparrow (Milkweed Editions 2012) which is now out in paperback. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University, and she teaches at the Loft Literary Center. For more info about her books, classes, critique service, and the Picture Book Writers’ Salon please visit www.mollybethgriffin.com.