One evening, before our kids were born, my husband and I decided to go for a drive. It was a nice evening and we had nothing else to do. For reasons I no longer remember, I got behind the wheel. That's not our standard M.O. , Mr. Willoughby usually drives when we go somewhere.
We headed out of the suburbs and into a more rural area where there was less traffic, fewer traffic lights and plenty of winding, twisting roads. The speed limit is 55 mph on those roads and I was using every bit of it and then some. There weren't many cars on the road, but I was passing the few that were. I wasn't going to let anyone get in the way of my hunger for the open road.
As the road narrowed down to one lane in each direction I encountered a pick-up truck that was also on a quest for speed. He immediately made a move to pass me, but I sped up. He swerved back into the lane behind me to avoid oncoming traffic. At the next opportunity, he tried to pass me again. As he pulled up next to me I stomped on the gas. It was game on, we were battling for lead position. When I shot him a sideways glance I could see that he was shouting and gesturing at me (he wasn't waving "hello" if that's what you're thinking). I vaguely remember Mr. Willoughby telling me to stop messing with the guy and let him get around us, but this had become more than a game, it had become war. When a car approached from the opposite direction my competitor was forced to fall in behind me again.
We continued like this for several more miles, me laughing maniacally and my opponent shouting obscenities, until we came upon a town and the road once again opened up to two lanes in each direction. Truck guy sped past me immediately and was gone. The game was over.
I agreed to stop at a store in town so Mr. Willoughby could get something to drink and take over the driving duties. While he went into the store, I sat in the car and waited. I was sitting in the passenger seat and flipping through radio stations when I noticed truck guy pull into the bowling alley on the other side of the parking lot. He squealed into a parking space and ran inside.Had he seen me? I didn't think so but I knew we needed to get out of town before he did.
Mr. Willoughby seemed to be taking forever to come out of the store and I was starting to worry about truck guy wanting revenge. I tried to calm myself down thinking the guy may have gone to the bowling alley to bowl and have a few beers and wouldn't be coming out for an hour or two. That fantasy was shot down the moment I saw him come running out with six or seven big guys. Three of them climbed into the cab and the rest jumped into the bed of his truck. If they saw us, I was afraid we would be in for a serious altercation.
By the time Mr. Willoughby came out of the store I was in a full scale panic. I gave him the low down and he concocted a foolproof strategy. We snuck quietly out of the parking lot with our headlights off and didn't turn them on until we were a half block away. We took a different road home and never saw truck guy and his posse. I think we were lucky to get out of town with our car and our skulls intact.
I thought of this incident today because I was thinking about my brother in law, Gordy. He was a rebel from the day he was born. But he was also a good guy who would help a friend, a neighbor, a family member and even a stranger in any way he could.
I have a few more recent pictures of him, but I'd rather share this picture because it's one of my favorites. That's Mr. Willoughby on the front, his brother Dave in the middle and Gordy on the back wearing the cowboy hat.