I grew up in the Oklahoma Panhandle around Guymon. My best friend, Brandon Tomlinson, and I have had many adventures that all started in kindergarten. This is an experience he and I had when we were in high school…about 30 years ago.
Now, for the first part of this to make sense it is important to understand that Brandon lived on a farm about 8 miles east of Guymon.
One night, we headed from Guymon out to his house east of town in our new “old” cars. We had both recently turned 16. I don’t know who started it, but I’m sure it was Brandon’s fault. OK…maybe it was my fault. But who’s splitting hairs?
Brandon was driving an old Pontiac and it was an automatic. I was driving an old Mercury with 4 on the floor that I could power-shift without using the clutch.
For some reason, once we got out of town and I realized that there were miles of a straight and level two lane highway ahead with no headlights in sight…I decided to take action.
I put down the hammer on my Mercury and tried to pass Brandon. He sped up and would have nothing of it. I knew my car was no match so I slowed down and pulled back behind him.
It was then that I tried my next move. I flashed my headlights, turned them off, and tried to pass him in the dark. He would have nothing of it. He turned off his headlights and we raced in the dark. We were just having fun.
Before anyone thinks this is totally insane, I want to clarify that there was a full moon and we could actually see where we were going.
What we did not know is that there was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol heading eastbound out of Guymon shortly after we started this endeavor.
Apparently, traveling at about 85 miles an hour at night side-by-side with your headlights off is frowned upon. And can possibly get you in jail.
As soon as I saw the flashing lights, I slowed down and got back behind Brandon in the right lane.
He pulled behind me first. The guy with the flashing lights. I made the decision to slow down some more and give him space to get in between me and Brandon so he could pull over Brandon.
I would like to pause and let you know I wasn’t leaving my friend out high and dry. In my mind, I thought that if the cop pulled Brandon over I would get on down the road and only one of us would get a ticket. And we could settle up later.
Boy was I wrong. This OHP officer was shrewd. The officer pulled around me to pull over Brandon but stayed right in the middle of the road until I had no choice but to pull over behind him.
He was mad. The guy with the flashing lights. He got out of his car with his flashlight, walked back towards my car, pointed it at me, and yelled, “Don’t move! Stay in your car!” I assure you there was no movement. I was frozen as I watched the officer walk back towards Brandon’s car and then take him into his cruiser.
After he was done with Brandon, he let him go and then invited me into the right seat of his humble abode. There was not a lot to say. I was guilty and he gave me a ticket. I was just happy not to go to jail.
Once I made it into the driveway of the Tomlinson Farm, Brandon and I started exchanging stories. We were trying to figure out a way out of this mess. There was no way out.
That night Brandon talked to his mom and she made him talk to his dad. The next day I talked to my mom and she made me talk to my dad.
Our parents didn’t “bail us out”. We both had to pay the tickets. I had to use everything saved up for my next skiing trip and didn’t get to go skiing that year.
But the best recollection I have from this experience is when Brandon told me the OHP officer asked him what he would have done if a black cow had stepped onto the road in the night and Brandon with his pragmatism and honesty told him, “I guess I would have hit her.”