The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

July 20, 2012

LEVINE: There’s a 1st for everything

CLINTON — There’s always a “first” for something.

There’s a first time for walking, eating, swimming and whatever else we do on a daily basis. Then there’s the “firsts” that I experienced last weekend, and I’m not sure if I’m too comfortable with ever seeing a second occurence.

If you read Saturday’s paper, you know that a couple in the Boone/Ames area woke up last Friday to the news that their reception and rehearsal dinner location had burned down hours before the nuptials were to take place.

The bride happens to be one of my wife’s best friends, and we were just getting on our way to Ames on Friday when we received the call. I’ve only been around one bride (my wife) for a long amount of time, so I don’t know much about wedding planning. But what I do remember is that brides worry about almost everything going wrong, except for maybe their reception hall burning down.

Unless my wife had secret thoughts inside her head about the catastrophic end to our reception, I believe those worries paled in comparison to the more mundane details like having enough food and making sure the groosmen (and groom) behaved.

Luckily a hotel in Ames took over and everything turned out great, including having a TV crew film much of the reception, which was another “first.”

As we headed over to central Iowa, I became a little worried about the sleeping situation of my daughter. We were leaving right after she woke up, meaning she wouldn’t be tired for the ride. We had just turned her carseat around, so this was our first long car ride where she would see the action, and not be asleep.

Once I strapped on my seatbelt, I experienced another sound that I hadn’t heard before. My daughter was a master backseat driver.

“Slow down, Dad,” she chirped in the backseat as I pulled out of the driveway.

“Go faster, Dad,” she said as I was slowing down for a stop sign.

“Both hands on the wheel, Dad,” she screamed.

And so we went for three hours, with the steady streaming of Dorothy signing in the “Wizard of the Oz,” from the portable DVD player, and my daughter reminding me that her one day of seeing the road was more experience than my 10 years of driving.

When we arrived in Ames, I relaxed a little, played some golf and handed over the car to my wife so she could get places in an efficient manner (this is an important part of the story).

Since the rehearsal dinner buidling burnt down, the event was moved to the soon-to-be-married couple’s home in Randall. I’m not too sure how many people in Clinton have visited Randall, but it doesn’t have a bar or a church, two of the barometers I use to measure the size of a town.

As you can imagine, when none of those exist, the town is small.

When we hopped back into the car to go to the hotel in Boone, which happened to be more than 20 miles away, we noticed the gas gauge light was flashing. No problem, we thought, since a gas station was likely close.

Then we plugged in the nearest gas station on our GPS, and it just happened to be a farther drive than we had to get back to the hotel. At this point, I was wondering where my daughter’s advice had gone when her and my wife were driving to the rehearsal dinner on limited fuel, but I didn’t voice my concerns, because I had never ran out of gas.

With only 2 miles to go, my next “first” happened. We ran out of gas...at 10 p.m.

To make matters worse, my phone was dead.

We did stop close enough to town that we were located directly across from a house, and it appeared the TV was still on. I meandered over across the road, hoping the people in this house weren’t asleep or easily annoyed, and knocked on the front door of a stranger’s home at 10 p.m., allowing me to register yet another “first.”

The man was nice, but he didn’t have any gas. While this was happening, a sheriff had pulled up to our car, so I said “Thank you,” to the nice man, and walked over to the sheriff, who then proceeded to ask me if the man across the road had any gasoline. I said, “no,” prompting the officer to question if I asked if he had a gas can.

“No,” I said, allowing the deputy to then coax me into going back to the stranger’s house and bother them again. I unfortunately assumed the deputy would walk with me, reducing the likelihood of me getting shot, but that didn’t happen.

What did happen, though, was that the man did have a gas can and not an affinity to pummel people who bother him late at night, leading to another first of sitting in the front seat of a cop car en route to a gas station.

Needless to say, last weekend was memorable. However, next time, I hope my daughter does a little less instruction on driving and more instruction on filling up with gas.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald.

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