The quest for a new car had taken a wholly unexpected turn. Beth called me on Friday with some interesting news. Her dad’s dealership had gotten a 2004 Audi A4 Turbo Quattro – and we’d be able to get the Employee Discount, some $10,000 less than the sticker price. “Listen”, Beth told me over the phone. “My dad LOVES this car. He said it’s MONEY. His exact word – MONEY. Black on black, leather, plenty of room in back for Lucas, moonroof, fast as hell. MONEY.”

I hesitated. For I had a history with the Audi Quattro. The Audi Quattro, you see, played a central role in my Prom Story.

We set the Wayback Machine to spring, 1987. I was the co-editor-in-chief of my high school paper, and my newspaper advisor and I, we got along famously. Along with his well-paying gig as an Anchorage high school teacher, he was a columnist for the Anchorage Times AND a columnist for Autoweek magazine, He made good money. He collected cars. Which he lent out to his favorite students for big occasions. So I got to take his brand spanking new Audi 4000 Quattro to the Prom. I picked up my date (Ann Baker) in the nice, shiny, black on black (leather) Quattro, We met up with my buddy Steve and his date, had a nice dinner, then off we went to the Prom. I received numerous accolades on scoring the car. I was feeling good – good looking ride, good looking date, the world was my oyster. So as things got going, Steve and I headed out to the parking lot to pound a few Mooseheads (hey, special times called for The Moose), then back inside to dance, then back outside to drink, repeat, until we were down to our last two beers. “Here”, Steve said, producing a tin of Copenhagen. “This’ll help keep the buzz on.” I was no stranger to the lip candy, so I took a pinch and we mosied/stumbled back into the dance. About a half an hour later, as we and our dates were busting our whitest moves, I leaned over to Steve and said “Hey – got any more chew? I’m out.”

He looked at me. “You’re out. What does that mean?”

“I’m out! I ran out.”

His eyes widened. “Did you spit it out?”

“No.”

“Then what the hell did you do with it?”

If you’ve ever seen a Warner Brothers’ Roadrunner cartoon, you’re no doubt familiar with the expression that creeps across Wile E. Coyote’s face when he, say, pulls the rip cord on his chute and dirty laundry flies out of his backpack. It’s a sad, somber, somewhat wistful gaze he casts at you, the viewer – he knows that you know that he knows that he’s about to pancake across the Arizona desert, and his eyes plead with yours to feel his pain, and when he’s gone, lift a glass for him at his wake. I’m quite sure I had a similar expression on my face when I realized the implications of “I’m out.” For if I did not spit the tobacco out…where did it go? Where indeed?

Steve and I walked back to our table. “Man, you better get out of here, You are gonna be SO SICK. I can’t believe you swallowed that shit.” We sat down at the big table, and I realized three things – one, our dates were sitting there; two, “gonna be”?; and three, try as you might, regardless of the fact that the table is big and the table cloth goes all the way to the floor, when you duck underneath it and start puking loudly, people – yes, including your date – are going to notice. Steve hustled me out to the Audi – thank God the table was right next to a backdoor, so witnesses were few (that did not, however, prevent the tale from spreading like wildfire at school the next day). He threw me in the back seat; I remember how comfortable that seat was, the supple black leather, the new car smell…which really didn’t work for me, what with the better of a twelve pack of Canadian beer coursing through my system and Jesus Christ did I eat an entire tin of chewing tobacco? Huuuuuuuuurk.

So the next morning was spent cleaning the remnants of a lobster dinner, several beers, and just a pinch o’ Copenhagen out of the nice Audi Quattro. A foul task, to be sure, but at least I wasn’t scrubbing puke out of cloth seats. My newspaper advisor was somewhat miffed, although I believe he was secretly pleased that I’d have a great story to tell. I apologized profusely to Ann, and took a fair amount of shit from classmates for the next few days; this was to be the first of my many Inopportune Puking Tales, yet among that particular pantheon, this one stills ranks among the best.

Back to the present. “So, the car is nice?” “Yes”, Beth said. “Ok, let’s get it,” I replied. She was very excited. “Ohhh! Look at us, with the leather interior!” “Yeah”, said I. “It cleans up easy. Or so I’m told.”

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