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… When school started in the fall, I started riding down to Toledo Ohio a couple of times a week with a carload of guys to get drunk at a bar called the FA-BA.

The camaraderie of being part of a drinking gang was a lot better than what I felt on the football team so I didn’t feel so bad about getting thrown off the team for punching the coach after he told me that, I’d be a better blocker if I ran into telephone poles.

Little did I know that nightmares about telephone poles would haunt me for the rest of my life.

Anyway, me and my drinking buddies, we laughed at our antics; failed attempts at picking up girls, puking or peeing in the parking lot or making nasty comments to girls who wouldn’t dance with us because of our lewd behavior on the dance floor.

One time the band let me sit in on the drums. Whenever I “sat in” I always asked if we could play the song “Money” because there’s a neat little drum solo that begins the song.

The guys were pretty impressed but I heard the lead guitar say that I was, “Strictly amateur.”

One night, one of the guys named ‘Moose’ spent the night in jail after getting into a fight in the parking lot. We didn’t know he was in jail since he rode down in another car.

Next morning Moose called the guy who drove us, asking if he’d come down and pick him up at the jail.

I didn’t hesitate to say yes when asked if I wanted to ride along.

Since it was early morning and we had arrived back at school the night before around 3:00 a.m., there was still plenty of alcohol in our systems.   In fact, we were STILL drunk,  determined to BE drunk and wanted to STAY drunk for as long as possible. (Plus, I figured drinking beer would be lot more fun than the Western Civilization class I’d miss.)

The five of us piled into the Chevy Impala, powered down the convertible top and headed toward Toledo 35 miles south,  just across the Ohio state line.  We immediately started drinking the left over Pabst Blue Ribbon beer we hadn’t consumed the night before.

After picking up Moose at the jail, we headed north toward Michigan.

A mile or so before the Michigan line we stopped at a bar for a few beers and to listen to Moose’s stories about being in jail.

At the time we didn’t know that a short time later we would come within inches of violent, bloody death our broken and bloodied bodies scattered in all directions after a short flights through the air with violent landings.

A couple of us would probably have to be scraped off the surface of the earth like flattened squirrels you see on the highway.

Luckily I was riding shotgun so I would have been killed instantly,  spared of the horror of flying 15 or 20 feet in the air before watching powerlessly as the black top road rose up to grab and absorb me into a grisly death.

Thinking back, I realize how strange life can be. There we were laughing our asses off at some story Moose was telling. Seconds later we could have been dead after the car in front of us turned left while we passed forcing us onto the shoulder, missing a telephone pole by inches then down a steep embankment where we came to rest 20’ below the roadway at the bottom of the swale.

We were all pretty shaken. I can still see the telephone pole speeding past my face not two feet away.  I would have been the guy whose remains were wrapped around that pole, my gray matter having either dripped down the south side of the pole toward Ohio or 3 or 4 feet north of the pole toward Michigan after my exploding head allowed my brains to escape between the broken fragments of my skull.

I can still see the grain of wood speeding by in the nightmares that have frequented me ever since.

After our ‘near death experience’ we wandered around the car reliving the experience while telling each other how lucky we were to be alive.

We pushed the car backward to the road where the other driver had turned forcing us off the road.

Soon were back on the road silent; each of us thinking about fate or luck or fear. But mostly about death and our tenuous hold on life.

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