His car was hot, stuffy, and lacking a radio. With any other guy, I would’ve felt uncomfortable; yet being with Alonso, even in an old Jeep, made me happy. Neither a broken AC system nor windows that don’t roll down could ruin my 17th birthday.
“Thank you for decorating my room, Lonso!” I exclaimed. Then, sarcastically, “I was very surprised.” Nothing gets by me. I knew the full schedule for the day, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Our first stop would be a small, lesser-known Peruvian restaurant in Provo.
“Are you going to have ceviche?”
“No! I had your mom’s last fall. One serving of raw fish is quite enough!” I replied, smiling nervously.
“Well, it’s your day. Have whatever you’d like!” I swear that boy is made of cheese.
I gripped my seat belt so hard that if it was an orange, juice would’ve begun to squirt out. The Jeep had begun shaking violently on the passenger side of the car, right under my seat.
“What’s going on?!” I yelled.
Before Alonso could answer me, I heard a loud popping sound, similar to what I imagine a blown out tire would sound like. Alas, the tire had blown out. He immediately turned on the emergency lights and maneuvered the car into the right lane. Unfortunately, the insane Utah county construction prevented us from immediately taking the shoulder. At 5 MPH for a couple yards, we finally made it safely to the edge of the road. This is one surprise I most definitely did NOT foresee.
Now, my birthday is conveniently placed in the month of June; this is convenient for two reasons: One, I don’t have school. Two, it’s very warm. While the latter may seem like a blessing, I was not pleased on that particular day to be stranded between Pleasant Grove and Lindon with a deficient car at 85* Fahrenheit or worse. In simpler terms, it was extremely hot and the tire was torn into pieces.
With the utmost precision in timing, a Utah Department of Transportation officer pulled up. He had all of the equipment necessary to replace our tire and get us back on the road. However, he did offer some advice that would forever change our lives:
“You should really get off at the next exit. Take State Street home and then try and get a real tire on that thing ASAP.”
No, it wasn’t exactly life-changing, but in the following moments, a few elements came together to create the 17th birthday experience I will never forget. Alonso and I thanked the man and were on our way.
Until we made it onto State, we were completely focused on getting off the freeway with no more “surprises.” Once there, we realized the horribleness, the ugliness, and the hellishness of our situation. Though it was , only 85* out, the inside of the car worked to be an oven; Alonso and I were baking at an estimated 125* Fahrenheit…fine, it was probably only 95* or so. As stated earlier, his car had no AC, no window-rolling capabilities, and NO radio! Not only were we frying, we were also trapped with a disgusting scent…
“Blech! Can you smell that burning rubber?!” We had packed the tire in the back seat.
“This is so gross. Alonso, get me home! I knew we should’ve taken my car. Yours is so…ghetto.” I giggled.
The fake tan lotion I had applied earlier that morning was dripping down my leg, leaving behind white stripes. I didn‘t want to tell him, but I was literally melting. I looked at the brown complexion of his face. Though once smooth, it was now covered in tiny beads of sweat. I leaned forward, prepared for the worst. My shirt stuck to my skin. I wish I could say that I shuddered, but it was too hot to feel a cold chill. Alonso called his mami to inform her of our situation. I gave up trying to understand his quick Spanish, and instead searched for fresh, clean air in the car. I found none.
Those 30 minutes on State seemed to never end. When Alonso finally turned onto his street, I could feel freedom kissing my fingertips. I eased out from underneath my seatbelt and prepared myself to fly out of the car. Once parked in front of his house, we raced to the shade. I fell on the grass, thankful for the immediate relief the cold blades brought my warm skin.
We laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
The rest of the date played out coolly (pun very much intended). I drove instead and we went to a different restaurant, but that wasn’t an issue. Sometimes, being with the right person can make any situation bearable. Sometimes, things don’t work out the way they’re planned; however, they always work out the way they’re supposed to.