There are some monumental firsts in every person’s life: your first kiss, the first time you drive a car, the first time you have sex, the first time you get married — come on, we all know that one person who’s made an art form out of marriage — the first time you give birth. Even dudes can get in on this game now. Don’t believe me. Look it up.
Think I’m still full of shit? I looked it up for you:
But I’m not talking about any of these. Even though I know you’re still thinking about that video…
I am talking about the first time you destory Bambi, or in my case his mom, and the car you were driving, or in my case the van. I forgot to add this momentous occassion on my I’m Back post about the highlights of my year. And man, it was a momentous occassion.
For the past few years, I’ve led a community program at the school where my kids go where the students and faculty adopt local families and make sure these local families have a brighter Christmas. Everything was going wonderfully for the day — several parents had helped me put together a cookie & cider gathering before we left to shop, and everyone was in the Christmas spirit. The students and faculty were excited to do this program again this year, many students saying it’s one of the favorite things they do each year. Not having dipped into the God-foresaken polar vortex we’re currently in, the weather was nice and the roads were clear.
I took my van — 6 students, including my son, and another parent with whom I’m friends, who also happens to be a Board member of the school — and we went to the closest Walmart, about 45 minutes away. We filled about seven grocery carts with gifts for families and food to fill the organization’s Food Pantry. As a special treat afterwards, we took the students for pizza, enjoying a fun dinner with lots of chatter. We loaded back in the van, heading back north in the picth dark.
We get back to the middlanowhere VT, where street lights are a luxury that only exist on middle of town roads. And we’re on a road much like one in a murder movie — dark, corn fields on either side, only a house every so many miles. The speed limit on said road is maybe 45 mph. We’re all chatting about how much fun we had, and cars are passing us. Read this again, cars are passing us.
I catch this tan blur out of the corner of my right eye, and then:
Bambi’s mom goes down. Hard. And I proceed to roll completely over her with our 15 passenger van.
Thank God, and trust me I did profusely, because in that moment a few things registered for me:
- I had driven these large vans for years when I worked in private school, so I knew you never swerve in them because you’re likely to flip the vechile. When I saw the blur, my immediate thought was, DO NOT swerve! I am going to demolish a deer. [BAM!] This quick thought probably saved all our lives.
- Thankfully, I had almost no reaction time because I barely had time to hit the brake before I broadsided this fully grown doe. This allowed the deer to go under the van and not up on the hood, as may have happened if I’d slammed on the brakes and pitched the van forward.
- Thank GOD I was in a van that sets up higher, and not in a personal vechile. This doe was large enough that in a car that set lower to the ground, it likely would have gone into the windshield, and I might not be sitting here typing this.
Then a curious series of events occurred: some I expected, some I, being a deer-hitting virgin, was unaware might occur:
- I looked over at the other adult in the van, and we both looked like deer in headlights. Sorry for the horrific pun here, but we did… I became Captain Obvious, calmly stating to her, “Holy shit, Marie, we just hit a deer.” She looked at me and said, “We need to call someone. Who should we call?”
- Simultaneous to the above conversation, one of the young girls in the van started hysterically crying and incessantly squealing in an octave that would have sent every animal in Nature’s kingdom fleeing for its life, “Did we just hit a deer? Did we just hit a deer?” I’m thinking on the inside, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” but she’s maybe 13, and that would’ve made me a serious asshole, and likely garnered a few nasty phone calls the next day. I whipped around after taking a deep breath and said, “I need you to please stop. Yes, we just hit a deer.”
- To which, my son immediately asked, “Can I get out to see if there are deer parts still under the van? Which garnered a collectively shrill shout of, “NO!” from me and Marie.
- But that got me thinking, I need to assess the damage to the van, and I actually need to make sure there aren’t deer parts that will impede our final travel back to school. Looking at Marie, I said, “I’m going to get out of the van and check the damage.” I notice in the side view mirror, someone has stopped and is directing traffic around the smushed deer. Nothing more registers beyond that, other than I need to assess the drivablility of this van and report the damage back to the school.
- Stepping out of the van, it starts to occur to me the implications… I’m not covered by the school’s insurance, as I am a parent, not an employee; I have other children in my care, and this could have been a royal disaster (which truly freaks me out because not all of them were wearing a seatbelt, as it turns out)…and then I see the damage…this is when I start to freak out. Breathing very heavily, I double over and start yelling, “HOLY SHIT! HO-LY FUCKING SHIT, MARIE!!! OMIGOD!”
- What the pictures do not show well is the fact that the radiator is punched in a good 9 inches and is a perfect dome from where we nailed the doe belly-on.
- At this point, the people who live in a nearby house come out to check on us — very kind. Said they heard the accident in their house, which sets a good 100 yds off the road. Yikes. And then the truck that had stopped traffic comes up to check on us.
- God bless every good ole’ hunting boy from rural America — seriously — this guy was a love. Told us he saw the whole thing, wasn’t anything that could have happened differently, that he pulled the barely alive deer off the road with his bare hands (yep, I cringed at that notion, too), said someone would come by and take her and turn her into hamburger (insert vomit sounds here), and he just wanted to make sure the van was OK, and that I was OK to drive. I reached in the window, grabbed his arm and gave it a huge squeeze, and thanked him profusely for his kindness.
- We pulled out to make the final leg of our journey back to school with a bump, crunch, bump, cleaning out the remaining deer parts underneath the van. With only one functional headlight dangling at an 80 degree angle to the left, we drove the wobbly van back at 20 mph, arriving to a crowd. Gotta love social media & texting — most of the school already knew what had happened.
- Students start Instagraming and SnapChatting the van — in less that 3 minutes flat, I become a minor legend for about 48 hours.
Sorry this wasn’t some sexy story about sex — not that anyone’s first time doing anything is genuinely sexy.
Rural America, I love thee.