They say that once you’re a parent, you’re a parent for life.
Just because your children turn 18, move out of the house, or even out of the country, doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook.
The same can be said for being someone’s child. I’ll be 42 years old this year, and the words “Victoria Clare!” can still fill me with trepidation.
A prime example of how little things change is my story from about five years ago.
My Dad had a dark green BMW with cream leather seats, and he was reluctant to leave it sitting in the sun when he and my mother went on a trip to the UK.
I was then renting a house with my two friends Lynne and Carol on Palm Heights drive, and it happened to have a double garage.
He asked if he could store the car there and I was happy to oblige, suggesting that perhaps he should leave the keys with me just in case, say, a rhino charged into the house and I had to get the car out of the way.
He reluctantly handed them over. He knew me well.
At that same time I was driving a tasty red CJ7 in which I fancied myself, but was wildly impractical for Cayman weather about 10 months out of the year.
The bimini top couldn’t handle any rain beyond a sprinkle, and nature’s air-conditioning was no match for the sweltering temperatures in the Summer.
I also had to drive to East End every Tuesday night to host karaoke at Morritt’s Tortuga Club, and so wrapped my electronic equipment in large garbage bags on the exposed back seat, which billowed and snapped furiously at any speed above 15 MPH.
Of course the minute my parents left for their two-week trip, the clouds began to gather and that green BMW was beckoning to me. “Don’t worry,” it seemed to whisper, “your father will never know.”
My sister Gabrielle (who has always been a goody two-shoes) was quick to try and dissuade me, but it was just for that one Tuesday night (ahem)…what was the harm? It was raining and the car was so nice and dry.
With a stereo. And an interior light. Up to East End and back I went, watching the rain batter the windows and marvelling that every puddle didn’t send filthy water shooting up my leg.
Two days later the rains came again. Surely Dad wouldn’t want me to catch my death in that jeep? And so it went…
At the end of the first week I was given a bottle of red wine by someone, and so I put it on the front seat of the car (you can see where this is going, can’t you?)
I promptly forgot all about it, and therefore transported it around with me. Constantly on my shoulder was a little Gabrielle, sporting wings and a halo, shaking her head.
The day before my parents were due back she said “Did it ever occur to you that Dad might have made a note of the mileage on the car before he left? Knowing you as he does?” Hmmm…she had a point. A-ha!
I called them at their hotel in the UK and asked if they would like to be picked up at the airport. Then all I had to say is that I’d made a slight detour twice around the island before I got there and I’d be home free!
The next morning I went out to the car, opened the door and….what was that smell?
The sun had finally done its work on the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon on the passenger seat, uncorking it and sending its contents down the back of the seat onto the carpet behind, up the side of the window and generally everywhere
I looked. I was suddenly 10 years old again, my heart in my mouth. Dad was going to kill me!
I ran back to the house, now very aware of the fact that I had to be at the airport in an hour with an emergency on my hands. I mopped and soaked and wiped.
Every time I thought I was getting on top of the situation, fresh splats of dark red on the cream interior revealed themselves.
In a panic I drove to my Esso station on West Bay Road. I pulled up, parked the car and then wailed to my friends the attendants “Guys! HELP!!! I just got red wine all over my Dad’s BMW!!”
May I remind you all that at the time I was about 36 years old.
Well bless them; they were all over the situation like ants on a Snickers bar.
The carpets came out, detergent was applied and sponges were employed.
I in the meantime was in the shop purchasing the strongest air-freshener I could find.
Strawberry Overkill or something similar.
As I got back to the vehicle, I found it remarkably changed.
From what I could see there was nary a hint of the devil’s beverage anywhere to be found, but the smell was lingering a bit.
Sticking the “freshener” in front of the vents I cranked up the A/C to full power, tipped the staff and headed off to the airport.
Mum and Dad arrived on time, and as I handed his baby over I wondered – would he notice? “Drives nicely doesn’t it?” Dad asked. “Yes, very nice,” I murmured.
Nothing did he say, nor was there a phone call for the rest of the afternoon.
Maybe that was the end of it! I had got away with it! Maybe not.
Later that evening Dad called. “Vicki, was that car in the garage the entire time we were away? It seems dusty and…”
Yessir…some things never change. As I said before, you’ll always be someone’s child.
And don’t try to pull a fast one on your parents.