Tuesday, September 20, 2016

CRUZIN'

In our teenage years we boys are notoriously oblivious to risk, particularly in fancy cars on the highway. We bask in the sense of our own invincibility. Alas, the realities of life still tend to intrude. This story comes from Kurt Grosz, whose rock band was nearly decimated by the experience he describes. Kurt is today in the construction business in Orange County California. He reports that he is "under pressure from clients. Just the normal 'want it yesterday' demands. Nature of my expert work. Hurry up and wait. Currently they are omitting the wait phase."  


CRUZIN'
by Kurt Grosz

Wow!  Are we going to have a great time tonight!

It was a warm late August evening in New Jersey. Cooler than earlier. Skin still hot from the sun earlier at the swimming pool. Cruzin’ with my buddies and band members in that convertible Corvair.  With no cares and the feeling of invincibility, we were off to party at someone’s house (no parents) to indulge in the drink and herb and who knows, maybe a little “slap and tickle”.  The road to the festivities is covered in a canopy of trees as it winds through the hundred-year-old houses toward the little Tudor-styled train station; past which lay our destination.

I was in the back seat with the beautiful long blond-haired, blue-eyed, busty athletic girl who dumbfounded all the guys who were sniffing around like curious dogs; which is exactly what I was.  The fact that she was a genius and had a laugh like a burlesque performer was a bucket of cold water shock to most however I was undaunted... 

I heard the sound of cars colliding; a sound less like smashing of projectiles than the anguished cry of some prehistoric beast. Then nothing.

I awoke in a hospital bed, disoriented but aware that there had been an automobile collision.  With what?  How? Why? How was everyone?

After lying there for what seemed like an eternity, a white-coated man came in and asked how I was.  I was sore and apparently had some stitches in my elbow, so I responded with that self-inventory.   With the bedside manner of a political pundit with an agenda, his response was, “Well, your driver friend is dead and the guy in the passenger seat may not make it."   

I asked how the girl was and he said, “What girl?” 

I never have remembered that evening in spite of a psychologist’s assurance that it would come back like a freight train running through my head.  What I have pieced together from the passenger, our lead guitar, after many months of reconstruction surgery, and from people who lived nearby the fiery collision who assisted in the rescue, as well as from the court transcript and newspaper articles was this: 

·      The driver, lead singer and harmonica player, was incinerated.
·      The passenger, lead guitar, recovered but battled prescription drugs and multiple wives until he finally was done in by alcohol and cocaine years later.
·    The back seat beauty we wished to be our groupie went on to be a Merit Scholar with advanced degrees and drove a cab in NYC.
·      Our vehicle was hit by a station wagon driven by commuter from “the City” who had just spent his train ride in the bar car.  He crossed the line and ended the innocence of youth for all of us.

·      And BTW: I learned but did not remember that after a Good Samaritan pulled me from the burning car, I asked about my date in the back seat.  She reportedly had sunk to the floor boards in the crash.  I rushed into the flaming wreck and pulled her out.  Though she was grateful for that feat which was lost in memory, we were always haunted by the events of that night and lost touch a few years later.    

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