I Love a Foggy Morning

I love a foggy morning. Actually a very foggy early morning. It triggers something deep inside me, like memories of how, at 16, I lived in France alone for the first time.

I arrived at Orly Airport early in the morning. It was foggy. The air smelt different. Mostly from the diesel fumes emerging out of the backs of buses, cars and trucks. I loved the alienness of it all where people spoke in a language I was familiar with, yet sounded so much different. Probably because they spoke French without a New York accent.

As the oldest child, my mother doted on me. Yes, sis, she did love me better than you. {I finally got to write that!} She also spoke to me in French. I always took French lessons and, in high school, entered the TIP program.

No one in my high school class remembers the TIP program. Except the 11 other female students who participated. It was progressive back then in the late 60's where all 4 high school years and almost all classes except gym, lunch and English were immersed in another language. We were a separate body from the other students. I liked that. I liked it a lot. Yeah, I was perverse even back then.

At sixteen, something in me snapped. I hated the suburban community, formerly a potato field. I called Long Island a glacial refuse, a cultural desert. I knew there was something more, being an avid reader, and couldn't find it on Long Island. Yet, I couldn't put a finger on it. All I knew was what I wanted, more.

I became feral. Wild like the savage dogs roaming the house that we called pets. My parents didn't know what to do with me. I smoked pot, ran around like a savage dog with guys, came home at all hours, even worked at the local Ho-Jos. I did all my chores at home. Most importantly, I continued to receive perfect scores in all my classes. 

Perplexed, the parentage at first grounded me to keep me grounded. Dad looked in on me in my bedroom and groaned to my mother. "That's not punishment. She's ENJOYING herself. Damn, she's READING!"

As previously mentioned, I was always an avid reader. Reading was sacrosanct in my family. To take away my books was akin to committing murder. 

They relented when it came to my job as counter girl. Which also made me wonder about their parental skills. The Ho-Jos was far away and my weekend evening shifts ended around 1am with another hour to clean up the counter. My parents hated picking me up in the middle of the night because I wasn't allowed to drive those hours at sixteen. Relief came when a guy two years' older than me, a senior at high school, offered to pick me up at 2am. Since he's rather prominent today, I'll name him for this blog, "Mike."


Parked in front of Ho-Jos, Mike sat in the car that February morning at 2am grinning from ear to ear. Not only was he happy to pick me up, he got to show off his mother's brand new car.

"What do you think?" he asked when I joined him. 

"Beautiful. It still has that new leather smell."

It was a warm February night. Luckily, that new leather smell dispersed the stench of ice cream on my soiled Ho-Jos uniform and we chatted the entire twenty minute ride. He turned off Rt 25 and drove the back streets that led to the high school. Scholar Lane used to have three schools: Commack HS North, JFK Junior High School and Circle Hill Elementary. The latter two schools were torn down decades later and replaced with another suburban neighborhood. I wonder where their children go to school.

At any rate, Scholar Lane ended with a 17th Century graveyard that was vandalized so many times the headstones were no longer. We made a left and instead of turning into the high-end suburban community that led to the poor one where I lived, we continued up the street to an empty field with a dirt road called by all in the community, "Ol' Man's Road."

He drove a hundred feet on that road and turned the car off. Since it was an unusually warm night, we didn't need the heater. We didn't need the heater for another reason: we were futzing around. 

Mike was my futz buddy. I learned from another futz buddy how much fun futzing can be. I liked to futz. When we were done futzing around, I looked out through the fogged windows and then noticed the drop in temperature.

"Hey, Mike, it's snowing!" I spotted a few snowflakes.

He peered out the window. "Oh, it's 3:15. I better get you home."

He turned the ignition key and the new engine revved up. Then he turned into reverse. Nothing happened. We exchanged looks.

He tried again. Still, nothing happened. The car didn't budge. Mike opened the car door, peered out and groaned.

"What's wrong?"

He jumped out of the car and howled like a stuck pig. "THE CAR SANK IN THE MUD!"

I jumped out and immediately noticed the change in temperature. Sure enough, the car sank in the mud up to the tops of the tires. While we futzed around on that dirt road in the warm weather, the car sank. When the temperature dipped and froze so did the mud.

We spent a frantic ten minutes trying to dig the tires out to no avail.

Then I came to a decision. "We either go to your house or mine for help. Because we both live equidistant to here." 

Mike wailed, "It's my mother's brand new car! I can't go home!"

In the cold, we turned and ran down Ol' Man's Road, trotting the streets in the freezing cold with a dash of flurries. It was the coldest and longest night. The entire time, Mike muttered, "My mother's gonna kill me." I couldn't respond for fear of biting my tongue due to my chattering teeth. I only wore a little jacket on top of my Ho-Jo's waitress uniform.

Finally, we arrived at the parental ranch house. The three dogs greeted me at the door. I turned and said to Mike, "Stay here."

I walked down the hallway to my parents' closed door. I opened it, and said, "Mom, Dad, we need your help. Mike's car got stuck in the mud at Ol' Man's Road."

My father burst out of bed, "WHAT? WHAT TIME IS IT?"

It was 3:40 am.


I already had that thought out. "We were driving around and Mike wanted to check it out. We were going to reverse but the car sunk."

Dad didn't buy it. Meanwhile, Mom woke up. "WHAT THE HELL'S GOING ON HERE? WHAT TIME IS IT?"

My father yelled at my mother. "She was futzing around with Mike, that's what went on!"

"Mike's in the living room," I let them know.

"Oh boy," said Dad while he reached for his slacks.

A minute later, he burst out of the bedroom, the dogs flanking his side. "What's the story, Mike?"

Mike quivered like a bowl of jelly. "Mr. Stone, we were making a u-turn..." Even from the living room, Mike heard my version of the story.

Dad flicked his hand in dismissal. "What's wrong with your car?"

Mom joined Dad, fully dressed.

"It's stuck in the mud, sir."

We all piled into Dad's push-button Ford Valient Dodge and drove to Ol' Man's Road. The parentage walked around the car. Dad glared at Mike. "We can't help you. You need chains."

Suddenly, a police car pulled up. An officer emerged. "What's going on here?"

My father pointed at Mike and me, "His car sank in the mud."

The officer walked around the car a few times. "Oh, you're gonna require chains to get this out." He looked at Mike and me. "What were the two of you doing?"

Dad turned to us. "Yeah, what were the two of you doing?"

Mike and I dropped our heads in shame.

"I suggest you phone a garage to get it out."

Mike wailed, "It's a brand new car! My mother's going to kill me!"

Once again, we piled into the Valient. Dad white-knuckled the steering wheel. When we entered the house, the dogs jumped up and down in glee. Mom said, "Mike, you stay in the living room. Maura - go to your bedroom and get to bed. It's 4:30 in the morning!"

Dad yelled after me, "You're grounded for life."

I burst out in tears. Because of Mike, I gave my parents considerable ammunition to torment me. They never had evidence before. In the kitchen, my mother pulled out the yellow pages and phoned towing companies with Dad bellowing in the background. "What the hell is wrong with her?"

Mike tiptoed down the hallway and entered my room. He sat next to me on my bed and said, "My mother's going to kill me," he added, "it's a brand new car."

My father grabbed him by the neck. "Didn't you cause enough trouble? What the hell is wrong with you? Outta her bedroom!" Before he shut my bedroom door close, he shot out, "We're gonna talk tomorrow. You're grounded for life!"

I undressed out of my soiled uniform and sped to the bathroom to wash off the embedded ice cream and  newly splattered mud on my face and under my nails.

Meanwhile, the dogs cavorted with the excitement while Mom talked to a garage. Minutes later, my mother burst into my bedroom. "We're driving Mike back to Ol' Man's Road where a tow truck will meet us. We're gonna talk about this tomorrow."

I laid down on the bed knowing my life was over. An hour later, my parents came home. I could tell by the barks and yelps. It was 6am. 

From the kitchen, my mother said, "Well, I guess I better make you breakfast, Art."

With trepidation, I left the bedroom. "What happened?"

My parents pulled long faces and glared at me. "Your pal, Mike, is going to be killed by his mother. The entire transmission was stuck in the mud," my father informed me. "Do you want to tell us what really went on?"

"No way."

"Do you want breakfast?" asked my mother. I sat down and ate with them. Not a word was exchanged except my father's snide comments. 

My brother and sister emerged from their bedrooms. "What's going on?" Amazingly, my brother and sister slept through the shouting, screaming and barking.

Hours later, Mike phoned. "I'm grounded. My mother's livid."

"Listen, Mike," I said. "This has to be a secret. NOBODY should know about this."

"Yeah," he agreed. "I'm gonna take this one to the grave."

He lied. Thirty-three years later, I received a phone call from a woman who attended the same high school. "I spoke to Mike, we reconnected through Facebook and he told me the wildest story about the two of you getting stuck in the mud at Ol' Man's Road!"

"WHAT?" I screeched. "Give me his phone number!"


He sighed on the other side of the line. "Nice to speak with you again after thirty odd years, Maura." Again, he sighed, "I'm sorry. You're right. I broke our pact. But I didn't talk about it for thirty-three years..."

The only positive outcome was my parents allowed me to study a semester in France alone while I was 16. "It's what she wants. It's really what she needs. Maybe that'll quiet her down," my mother said to my father late one night. I could hear their conversations through the air vent.

Which is why early foggy mornings are so important to me.

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This blog and all its posts are a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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