By Dom Cioffi
It’s one of those memories that will be forever burned into my psyche.
It was a summer night right after my high school graduation and I was ready to make a major bad decision (although it didn’t feel that way at the time).
I had met a girl a few weeks prior while visiting a friend in the hospital. My buddy had gotten into a bad car accident and was laid up with a lot of pain. When I got to his room, I was greeted by several other visitors. One of them, an adorable girl with blonde hair and big, alluring eyes, stared at me just long enough to attract my attention.
Within days, we had connected and were busy trying to find reasons to run into each other.
Finally, after several phone calls and a few casual interactions among friends, we planned to officially meet up. Time has robbed me of the details, so I’m not sure if it was a real date or just the continuation of a night on the town, but eventually she and I headed out into the night together.
At the time, I had access to my father’s hulking Pontiac Catalina convertible — the perfect vehicle in which to woo a young lady. So, with the warm Vermont summer air careening around us, we drove throughout the countryside laughing and getting to know each other.
Eventually we ended up at an empty recreation park where I tucked the Catalina into a dark corner where no one would bother us. Again, I can’t remember how intimate we got on that first night, but I know it went well enough that I didn’t want the evening to end.
We sat there and passed the hours away, neither one of us coming up with a good enough reason to leave. We talked about shared interests and dreams, both realizing eventually that there was a nice connection burgeoning.
I was 17 at the time and feeling the pull of life. I had always been an obedient child, but my parent’s rules were starting to feel restrictive. More and more, my mother and I were starting to butt heads. She wanted me to conform to her standards while I wanted to find my own way.
Part of the problem was my older brother, who had caused immense stress in our household several years prior with his interest in all things mischievous. My parents experienced enough heartache with his behavior to not want to see it happen again. Therefore, I faced seemingly unfair restrictions to my life.
It was always understood that I should be home at a reasonable hour. To my parents, that meant midnight (maybe 1 a.m. if something big was going on). For the most part, I adhered to this rule, but on the aforementioned evening, I threw caution to the wind.
I was brutally conscious of the time as it ticked closer and closer to 12:30 a.m., knowing that it would take me at least half an hour to drop her off and get back to my house. The more time that passed, the more anxious I became.
Finally, we agreed that we should call it a night. I dropped her off and headed home. Unfortunately, it was past 4 a.m. My only hope was that my parents were asleep and oblivious to my extended night out.
That was not the case.
I quietly pulled into the yard and gingerly stepped in the front door only to be greeted by the flailing slap of my mother’s hand. Any tiredness I was experiencing quickly evaporated.
My mother had never hit me before so I was in immediate shock. She followed the blow with a barrage of tears and an incessant stream of reasons why I was uncaring, ungrateful, and undeserving of the liberties I had been given.
I slept the rest of the night in the back of the convertible and apologized later the next morning (if only to keep the peace). In truth, I didn’t understand why she was so upset — until I had my own child and felt the stress of not knowing where he was. As an adult, I now realize how disquieting that scenario would be for my parents. (Thankfully, we have cell phones today so the worrying can be somewhat alleviated.)
This week’s film, “Megan Leavey,” features a young woman who makes some major life decisions that cause immense stress to her own parents. Based on a true story, this film follows the military exploits of an enlisted Marine and her trained bomb-sniffing dog. The two did two tours during the Iraqi war and completed over 100 missions.
Check this one out if you enjoy stories about nobodies looking to become somebodies. This one has heart, passion and a sense of worth — attributes that any parent would like to see instilled in their children.
An apprehensive “B” for “Megan Leavey.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at email@example.com.