We had never spoken before. He always just sat quietly behind me in history class. But he seemed nice, and relatively harmless, and I thought maybe he didn't have a lot of friends. So I agreed to be his date for the upcoming homecoming dance. After all, I was popular and a cheerleader, so I knew it must have been hard for him to muster up the courage to ask me.
The next day, there was a teddy bear and a note on my car. Sweet, right? I knew I had made the right choice and I was looking forward to getting to know him and introducing him to my friends.
The plan was simple. My parents were hosting dinner at our house for me and my friends and our dates. Everyone was going to arrive at 6. Not being the most punctual girl myself, I didn't mind when he was a few minutes late. But when we were all nearly finished with dinner and he still hadn't shown up, I could feel the steam starting to rise off my skin as my blood began to boil. I did him a favor! How dare he stand me up!
Just as we were all getting ready to leave, he arrived. No apology. No explanation. No corsage. My teenage naivete told me that maybe he just didn't know that you were supposed to bring your date a corsage. So I let it go, and we all headed off to the dance.
Still fuming and hoping the drive would go by quickly so I could regroup with my friends, I wasn't paying much attention to anything he was saying or doing. But my attention was immediately captured when I realized we had just blown through a stop sign and were now about to be pummeled by a large van. With no time to brace myself, we were spinning across a busy intersection, headed toward the condominium complex on the other side.
You know how a crash never sounds like you think it will? How, after the screeching tires you expect to hear shattering glass or crunching metal, but all you hear is a single smack? When we slammed into the parked car, this crash sounded exactly like I thought it would.
Stunned and disoriented, I barely heard the voices outside the car. But regaining coherence, I realized that we had crashed just outside the home of some friends of my parents. They called the police and then called my parents to come get me.
A few minor cuts and bruises (and about an hour) later, I made it to the dance and found my worried friends. But I had some explaining to do, because I arrived sans-date. I couldn't bring him, you see, because when I left the scene, he was handcuffed on the curb, mid-arrest.
Apparently, the car had been reported as stolen. And, as it clearly wasn't his, it was also uninsured. And he didn't even have a license! People, do you realize what this means?!?! I could have been kidnapped or even killed, and no one would have ever been able to find me, because T.H. might not have even been his real name! Come to think of it, I never saw or heard from my multiple-identity criminal friend again after that night. Maybe he wasn't even a student at my school! Just think what could have happened!
And that, children, is why we should never talk to strangers.