Look at it this way: either she saved my life or almost fucking killed me. Or both. All a question of framing.
A friend had emailed me, just before we left snow covered NY heading for snow covered Boston for Melz’s funeral, urging us to be careful on the road. I thought little of the warning at the time, seeing traffic on the Grand Central Parkway traveling at its normal speed and the service road dry, responded glibly that I’d ask the driver to keep it to 80 mph.
But, lo, only a few hours later, after a stop for lunch in a Connecticut diner, I had reason to ponder the prudence of his concerned comment after S, at 80 mph and accelerating, hit a sheet of nicely camoflagued ice in the lane next to the HOV lane and did a donut next to said HOV lane on interstate 84, which is 5 lanes wide at that point, miraculously missing the white car in front of us as we swerved back into traffic, about a foot away as we went into the spin, we stopped for a nanosecond facing the oncoming traffic before S veered to miss one oncoming car, we swiveled again, maybe 180 degrees, somehow no horns blaring as this bullfight at 80 mph went on, no time for that, and then managed to lunge across the last two lanes of fast moving traffic to the shoulder. Closest to death I’ve ever been. Thank God none of the oncoming drivers were texting or studying their GPS screens at the time.
S later told how her father, insane ex-Marine Murray, used to take S and her sister to frozen parking lots to practice over and over what to do when you accelerate and hit ice, how to get out of a skid, how to stay cool when you need to have every bit of focus on your survival. He did this at least 10 times, til he was satisfied both girls could do it. “We owe our lives to Murray,” I concluded. There is no other explanation for how we survived.
On the way back I saw on southbound 84 that not only was it a miracle and testament to Murray’s effective training and S’s reflexes and instincts that we survived, and extreme good luck, the hand of Ha Shem, and Melz’s hand, but that S, in a hurry for no earthly reason, (we could arrive any time between 5 and 8 and she’d picked 5 to obsessively aim for– we arrived at 5:06), had been an insane idiot the moment before and, accelerating to illegally enter the HOV lane across an unmaintained lane (unmaintained because of double white lines and herringbones, under the thin coating of snow over a sheet of ice five miles long) at roughly 85 mph, had almost killed all of us.
No wonder she was so shaken today and kept hugging me. They left right after the burial, I drove back with other friends after the shiva call on Melz’s family. It guess it must have dawned on her more and more overnight that it was not a case of “you saved my life. It’s a miracle!” as I had constantly been framing it, nearly as much as “you almost killed me on the way to a funeral, you fucking asshole!” which is probably a much more accurate assessment of what actually happened.
It is all a question of framing, I suppose, and how much mercy we employ while putting things into frames.