Life of the Party
December 15, 2014
Today my friend Lorraine was laid to rest. Gone way too soon, she leaves behind 2 young children and a loving husband, as well as lots of heartbroken family and friends. She will not be forgotten–mostly because she is truly unforgettable! The life of every party, especially the ones thrown by her!
We first became friends about 20 years ago and some of my favorite memories of her revolve around adventures we masterminded together. Truly our greatest was a trip to my parents’ summer cottage on Lake Ontario (now their home) to celebrate the Forth of July. I remember excitedly concocting the plan together, breathlessly dividing the responsibilities. Lorraine volunteered to rent the car. I would invite some more friends and square it with my parents.
A few days before the trip Lorraine confessed to me that she hadn’t gotten around to renting the car. And since it was almost July 4th, there were none to be had. But just when we thought we’d have to cancel, she found a place to rent one and we were set.
There were 6 of us going on this whirlwind road trip and we were leaving after an evening church service from midtown Manhattan. We all brought our overnight bags and Lorraine brought the car. And, oh, what a car it was. It looked like it rolled off the line is 1978 and might have been driven by Starksy and Hutch. But it had enormous bucket seats so if fit all 6 of us and our stuff, so we were set.
The driving would take about 8 hours and we were leaving pretty late at night, so we switched drivers throughout the journey. My leg was the early morning shift. I would need to drive through Rochester, NY during morning rush hour. As we were approaching the city a car pulled up next to me and the driver honked at me, pointed to my car and kept going. Everyone else in the car was asleep, so I woke up my friend Kara (yes, the same one from my famous turkey episode) and had her look out the window at the car. Neither of us could see anything wrong, so we assumed the guy was honking at us because we were a crazy car full of women! A few minutes later there was a loud bang, the car shifted and we saw smoke emanating from the vicinity of the back tire. I pulled over through 4 lanes of busy traffic as gracefully as I could and screamed at everyone to get out of the car before it exploded. When we stumbled out and looked at the car, we realized the entire back tire was missing. It had exploded and disintegrated.
I ran off to find a pay phone to call my parents and the girls searched the car for a safe tire. I reached my mom and she said she would contact my dad (already en route to work) and have him come help us. And the search for the spare tire not only revealed that there was no spare tire. It also uncovered a receipt for “one used tire” in the glove compartment. Hmm. I wonder which one that was.
While we were waiting for my dad, a state trooper stopped by to make sure we were ok and after hearing our story he wrote his name and badge number on our car rental receipt in case we needed proof that the tire exploded. Then my dad arrived, assessed the situation, went out and bought us a new tire, put the new tire on the car, took us all out to breakfast, then sent us on our way. (That Buzz!)
We were feeling pretty giddy by this point and since Kara had brought a cassette player (of course the radio in the car didn’t work) and a tape of West Side Story, we were having fun singing (screaming) along. Too much fun. Lights and sirens startled us out of our reverie and I realized I was going about a thousand miles an hour.
So, don’t judge me, but I pulled over wrong. I was in the left lane, so I pulled over to the left shoulder. And as the cop sauntered over to my driver’s side I’m sure he realized he had scored big time. He looked us all over (very multicultural group in a very Huggy Bear car) then zeroed in on me. “How long have you been driving?” he asked. “Well, we started last night at about 11pm from New York, so I guess about 7 or 8 hours…” “No“! he interrupted. “In your LIFE! How many years have you been driving?!?” I didn’t know where he was going with this, so I began to babble. “Uhh…well I got my license when I was 16, but I moved to NYC when I was 17, so that’s a year. Then I’ve been in the city for 6 years now and I rarely drive, mostly just when I–” “BECAUSE YOU PULLED OVER TO THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!” Whoops.
Anyway, we gave him our rental agreement and my license and when he saw the state trouper’s name and badge number he flipped out again. So we had to tell him the whole story and I’m sure he thought we were all idiots, but I think by that point he had given up on the idea that we were involved in any type of criminal activity. Except speeding. And pulling over wrong.
We got to my parents’ house and had a blast. The car proved even more fun when we discovered that it had a trick alarm that would erupt at any time of the night or day for no reason at all. We sure made a name for ourselves in my parents’ small town!
Lorraine is still famous in my family for her incredible joie de vivre and enthusiasm for everything. She had to stop at EVERY garage sale…
And take a picture with EVERYTHING…
Lorraine was an incredibly special person. She taught me how to make a table look pretty for a party and how to dress like a grown up. She lit up every room she entered. She supported her friends fiercely and loved very deeply. And although she never wanted to be the center of attention, she was always the life of the party.
(If you’d like to donate to a fund for Lorraine’s children, click here: WESTERVELT CHILDREN’S FUND)