A Little Nap

I wrecked my car last week, but don’t worry: It was a Hyundai, and I’d had it for two years, so it was about time to throw it in the trash anyway.

When you’re in an accident, the first thing people ask you is not “Are you OK?” or even “Is the car OK?” The first thing they ask is “Whose fault was it?,” as if not being at fault will somehow make you less dead. I guess what they really want to know is, “How sorry for you should I feel?”

In this case, mine was the only car involved, so the “Whose fault was it?” question was a little embarrassing. I tried to pin blame on the freeway guard rail, but I have yet to find anyone besides county commissioner David Gardner who believes me.

What happened was, I was driving to Salt Lake City and listening to one of the Harry Potter books on CD. I believe it was “Harry Potter and the Secret Underpants,” or something like that, and it was very interesting. Harry and Ron were just calling upon the dark powers of Satan to exact revenge on their enemies when for some reason I started to feel drowsy. I turned up the volume on the CD player so that the British man telling me the story was now shouting; I put my head out the window like a dog; I took off my shirt and steered with my nipples; nothing seemed to help.

Next thing I knew, I was being woken up by an airbag that had deployed the instant I hit the guard rail, and that was occupying every square inch of space between me and the dashboard. Since airbags are nuclear-powered, there was also a cloud of noxious smoke filling my lungs and burning my eyes. I’ll tell you, ricocheting off a wall, being smacked in the face by an airbag, and choking on radioactive smoke: These are things that will wake you right up. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I careened across three lanes of freeway, hit a construction barrel, and bounced back to the right shoulder again.

Miraculously, despite the car now looking like the automotive equivalent of an American soldier in the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan,” I had only a slight case of whiplash, which I went to the hospital for, just in case my neck had actually snapped in two. The emergency room doctor assured me this was not the case and gave me a soft collar to wear for a day to keep my neck from straining itself in holding up my enormous head. (Wearing a soft collar, I learned, is the same as wearing a sign that says, “Please ask me why I’m wearing a soft collar.”)

The doctor — I think he was a doctor; I was in the same ward as the hypochondriacs and lunatics, so he may have just been someone the hospital pays to humor the people who come in with nothing wrong with them — he gave me two prescriptions, one of which was a muscle relaxer. He told me it might make me drowsy, so I shouldn’t drive after taking it. He didn’t realize how funny this was, and I didn’t tell him. Frankly, I was still a little sleepy, as I never did get to finish my nap.

The David Gardner reference explained: Utah County Commissioner David Gardner was driving while intoxicated one night several months before this. He eventually sort of crashed his car into a field, where the car apparently somehow ignited a fire, which he tried to put out by stomping on it.

When authorities arrived, he said the reason he had alcohol on his breath was that he had picked up a hitchhiker earlier who had offered him a drink of his beverage. Gardner said he had taken a swig without realizing it was alcohol, and immediately stopped drinking once he realized it was.

As for the fire, he had been driving along, minding his own business, when he saw this little brush fire on the side of the road. He pulled over and tried to stomp it out.

No one believed his fantastic tales, not even for one second, and he was charged with whatever you get charged with for all that stuff.

Oh, yeah, my accident. My apologies to my friends who heard about it here for the first time. I wasn't seriously injured at all, my insurance covered the car (which was totalled), and I bought a new car: a 2001 Hyundai Accent. The only downside was that I missed the movie I was driving to Salt Lake to see, and all the other critics wondered where I was. It's nice to be missed.

I should also mention that I don't really think Harry Potter books are evil, like a lot of the religious crackpots do. On the contrary, I think they are marvelously uplifting and teach good morals and lessons. But it's not as funny to say that as it is to say that they're evil.