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Michelle Lovato: Sometimes it takes a car-becue

The adventures of Garlic Man and Wedgie Woman

Posted: January 7, 2009 8:02 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2009 4:30 a.m.
 
Ever had one of those nights when you lay in bed with a nagging little feeling something's wrong?
Isn't it worse when your rebellious teenage daughter is out past midnight driving a car full of kids as outlandish as your own?

I didn't sleep the night of the car-becue.

My middle daughter, Christianna, turned 18 this summer. It was a monumental occasion that culminated with "The Great 2008 Thank-God-She-Graduated-High-School-And-Now-Has-To-Learn-Responsibility-Father-Daughter-Treaty," put into writing and signed by both parties.

The treaty outlined an agreement that Dad would turn over his souped-up Subaru Legacy wagon pink slip in exchange for his hyperactive, highly emotional second daughter paying for insurance and a few minor car repairs, which included a hanging tailpipe.

Renamed "mini-Michelle," Christianna has a reputation for being the family's most adventurous, flashy, can't-live-one-minute-without-demanding-someone's-attention-in-a-negative-way drama queen.
Christianna ran away from home when she was 6 because I closed the van door before she could get out. When she was 8 she scored in the 99th percentile on her annual state tests.

Christianna never let a challenge stop her.

After a while, I was simply spent of energy dealing with her. Thank God my husband was there. It was Vince who kept her in line.

Christianna was very special to Vince, who bought the super-sexy, leather-clad, wide-tired, all-wheel-drive, bra-and-spoiler-clothed Subaru specifically for his daughter four years earlier.

But for three years, until darling Christianna was ready to drive, Vince drove the wagon every day and fell in love with what became his mechanical wonder.

As you might imagine, relations were frosty between father and daughter around June 2008. And by the time they made up and agreed to the treaty, the once-sexy Subaru was dusty and in ill repair.

Five days after the treaty, pink slip in hand, I drove Christianna to town to buy insurance. After she talked me into buying lunch, picking up her friends and forking over a few bucks for gas, I dropped off my spoiled middle daughter at the mall.

I was no longer needed.

Nine hours later she called in a panic.

Sixty miles from home, the Subaru tire burst.

Terrified, my Rebel Without a Cause begged me for advice and pled with me not to tell "him."

Her friend Justin changed the tire, but instead of turning toward home my never-learning daughter continued her disobedient trek away.

At 1 a.m. the phone rang.

"My car's on fire!" she cried.

I rolled my eyes.

"Don't be so dramatic."

"I'm standing next to it now. My car's on fire!"

The hanging tailpipe lit the car's undercarriage aflame.

Another hour passed before my oldest daughter, Melissa, and I arrived on scene. All the way there I was terrified the car might be undrivable.

But it was all over when we got there. Vince's beautiful Subaru was burned to an unrecognizable crisp.

Totaled.

Everything was black. No seats. No floor. No steering wheel.

Three hours before, the Subaru was my husband's showpiece. Now it was a metal skeleton.

I grabbed my daughter and yanked her into the road's center.

"What's wrong with you?!" I yelled. "You could have killed someone!"

My dear little girl just looked up into my eyes like a defeated toddler.

Some lessons are so hard learned they can only be realized in a car-becue.

The treaty went out the window. My daughter continued to be a pistol. And father and daughter didn't talk for months.

But miracles do happen and a father's love eventually conquers all. At Christmas this year my husband finally forgave my dear Christianna.

I wished for no other gift as I realize the lives nearly lost are absolutely invaluable.

Michelle Lovato is a Signal staff writer and lives in Pinon Hills. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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