but i had to write a narrative essay last week and figured it'd make for good material. i tried to channel what i've read of HST while i was writing it. teacher said writing style was 'engaging' and i got an A on it, but standards around here aren't that high.
anyway, if you're interested, story is here:
In September of 1999, at the age of twenty-one, I underwent an experience that, in retrospect, seems to be a defining moment in my shift into adulthood.
It was late in the evening, about 10:30, and I was on the way to a friend’s house via Lawrence Expressway in San Jose, CA, a six-lane “sub-highway” with a speed limit of 50mph. I was driving my bright yellow Volkswagen GTI, which, as a young man, was naturally my pride and joy. Since purchasing it a year earlier, I had invested thousands of dollars in performance modifications in order to increase its speed, and improve its handling.
I was in the center west-bound lane, underneath a freeway overpass, when two other young men, roughly my age, rolled up on either side of me riding blue-and-white 600cc Suzuki sport bikes, commonly referred to as “rice rockets” because of their Japanese origin. I looked over and saw one of them eyeing the large blue tank of nitrous oxide in my rear cargo area- instantly recognizable to a gear-head.
Each of them gave the throttle grips on their right handlebars a few quick twists, producing a howling, echoing cacophony, as we were surrounded on four of six sides by flat concrete surfaces; an unmistakable challenge. Being young, male, and impulsive, I of course responded with a sharp jab at my own throttle pedal, the V6 engine under my car’s hood snapping out a duller, more bass-heavy bark through its aftermarket intake and exhaust. Knowing that I had a severe disadvantage in power-to-weight ratio against the two featherweight bikes, I felt no shame as I activated the nitrous system and pressed the purge button on my dashboard, venting a plume of the “cheater juice” from a valve just in front of my windshield and making sure the system was primed and ready.
Adrenaline and anticipation always gives me a minor case of the shakes, and my right foot twitched just above the gas pedal like a trained dog awaiting its master’s command.
The three lights in front of us switched from red to green, and I gave a too-strong launch, spinning both of my front tires for four or five feet before they finally found traction. Because of this, the bikes already had a four-length lead on me. After shifting from first to second gear, I jabbed the nitrous activation button on the dashboard, and barely had time to reach back down and shift again before the tachometer needle swung to the dangerous side of 7,000. A plume of blue smoke issuing from my muffler bisected everything visible in my rear-view mirror. As I approached both the end of third gear and 100mph, the distance between my headlights and the two riders shortened. Fourth would be all I needed to pull between them, and I shifted into it for the last time, without letting off the gas.
The biker on my right was a full length ahead of the other, placing the latter next to me as I pulled even with the rear wheel of the former. The road began a gentle curve to the left, and the leader swung into the center lane without checking his rear view- I could now only see half of his back tire over my hood.
In a moment of panic and terror, I let off the gas and stomped on the brake, fearing I’d upset the rider off of his bike at triple-digit speeds. The change in momentum caused my car to shift all its weight to the front tires, and the rear end began fishtailing. As the road straightened again, I found myself pointed at the median and then crossing it, still in excess of 100mph.
Yanking the e-brake in an emergency attempt to stop did nothing, and I was across the 3 opposing lanes of traffic before I knew what happened. My car’s nose caught on the waist-high dirt shoulder, and launched itself up at the soundwall in a near-vertical attitude. (When I went back to look a few days later, this 8-foot-high wall had been pushed back about two feet by the impact.) The roof caved in, and flattened my seat nearly perpendicular with the floor- I was pinned and along for the ride as the car bounced from wall to an old-growth tree, and then came to rest upside-down in opposing lanes.
Taken to the hospital, I was unbelievably lucky to get away with nothing worse than a torn ligament. In less than a minute, my youthful belief of my own immortality finally and forcefully ended.