We used to push the car down the driveway, so they wouldn't hear it start. Cautiously, we opened the doors, popped her into neutral and on the tips of our toes pressed that steel monster toward the street. We were a bit surprised, at only 15 or 16 years old, that we could move it at all.
I didn't really know how to drive, but I had a learners permit. We didn't really have anywhere to go, but that was immaterial. We stole my father's Honda Accord regularly for months. I learned to drive cruising around Westchester County in the wee hours of the morning, just looking for trouble with the boys. Fond memories of comradery like these, embarrassingly, make me giddy for Thanksgiving.
There was turkey and stuffing in the fridge and leaves on the road when we first discovered automobile shenanigans. In the beginning, my friends would sneak out of their houses. I would creep by, picking each one up and we would just drive around aimlessly, laughing and telling jokes, being bad kids in a car that we should not be driving.
When the novelty of simply driving wore off, we set out to perfect the art of drive-by harassment.
"CHEWBACCA!" Jason shouted at a man on the sidewalk who flailed his arms and cursed us as we sped away. It's hard to explain the joy we derived from making grown men curse at us.
We hovered around neighborhoods with 24-hour stores and services in hopes of finding people, even though we knew there would be more police there. Usually we would find a man walking a dog, or a jogger, or anyone simply minding their own. We competed at who could launch the wittiest and most vulgar comments at these innocent pedestrians, most of which I cannot repeat here.
Soon we found that we could get the quite the rise out of people by punctuating our shouts with moons and middle fingers. It wasn't the most sophisticated humor, but that didn't bother us. At 16, I had little use for maturity.
Once, we even got chased.
The road was empty, except for a single green Jeep Wrangler up ahead. We moved into the right lane and slowly closed in on our target. All the windows slid down. I clicked on cruise control and carefully climbed to standing on the seat. Steering with one hand, I exposed my rear to the 60 mph November cold in my first and last execution of the driving-moon. As we slid by, gleaming white asses protruding from every window, we shouted victoriously as if we won some sort of ridiculousness contest.
For some mysterious reason, you always have to get away after mooning. So I plopped down into my seat and floored the gas. But the Jeep pursued. I raced down the first off-ramp. Basting through a stop sign, we sped into a residential neighborhood. I tore through silent streets and cut into a driveway. We ducked below the windows, smiling and struggling to hold in the laughter that bubbled through our nervousness.
As immature as it was, mooning was great fun back then. Though, we soon discovered that the bakeries left boxes of rolls at the doorsteps of delis all over town between 4 and 5 a.m.
As if they were grenades, we took bites and lobbed rolls out the sunroof.
"Where ya go'n' buddy?" accompanied barrages of various baked goods from that maroon Accord.
Driving around, lobbing rolls, and laughing served as our favorite pastime for months - until we got arrested.
We made a wrong turn onto a one-way street in the city of White Plains. Before I could turn around, lights and sirens bounced off the steel and glass city walls. And without a license - I was in big trouble. They put us in the back of their cruisers, had the car impounded, and called my father. Needless to say, he wasn't happy.
After that, we went back to playing video games, listening to music and joking around in my room. Regardless of the degree of mischief we were causing, those guys and I always had a blast together. Well, making mischief was ridiculously fun, but we still had a good time otherwise.
This year we are not likely to throw sandwich rolls at anybody, but I don't think I will ever share the same joyous comradery that I have with those guys who I got in trouble with so many years ago.
Converging on the motherland from our far-off college and jobs, on these rare holiday occasions, is like the forming of Voltron. It's returning to a place where we truly belong, where hardy laughs and missed hugs revitalize the soul and make you wonder why you ever left. And in the midst of this overwhelming semester, there is nothing that I need more than a recharge and a good laugh.
Thank god for Thanksgiving.