Back around the time Lena and I were first married, she worked for a guy named Mike, who owned a magazine. Mike wasn’t a bad guy …well, okay. Mike was a bad guy, but he desperately did not want to be thought of that way, which lent him just enough charm that people continued to talk to him.

He was a frat guy.

The magazine catered exclusively to the sorority and fraternity crowd at UF, and was filled with pictures of them getting shitfaced and blotchy, dancing and sweating in togas, and occasionally washing enough cars in the Eckerd’s parking lot to keep their charity requirements up. The other half of the magazine was for bar advertisements.

Stupid college kids partying stupidly in stupid togas.
Honest. This one photo represents 50% of a thirty six page magazine. Except it’s better lit.

One overcast morning I drove Lena in to work in our Ford Explorer. The magazine offices were in a run-down building above a head shop and behind a Taco Bell. It rained all the previous day and night, and the streets were overflowing with water.

The Taco Bell drifted into sight.

“Gun it!” Lena shouted, pointing at the front of the Taco Bell, in front of which lay a huge pool of rainwater.

Already a mostly-well-trained husband, and without knowing why, I did indeed gun it, accelerating dramatically and aiming for the miniature pond. From the corner of my eye I saw a tall person in a white shirt and jeans, their head obscured by a domed woman’s umbrella.

We hit the water with an explosive crash, and Lena leaned over and pressed the car horn. For just an instant I saw Mike’s face, eyes wide and mouth in an O of terror, before the water covered him and we were gone.

A Ford truck drives down an improbably flooded downtown road.
Gainesville really needs to work on its sewer drainage.

For the next hour, as we hid out in a nearby restaurant and tried to eat breakfast, neither of us were able to breathe, much less speak, for the laughter. The only thing Lena could intermittently squeak out was, “I am so fired.”

I could only imitate Mike’s frightened expression and go, “Bloosh.”

Honestly, we almost could not walk.

Eventually, still consumed with paroxysms of giggles, we made our way back to the office. How would we explain? As soon as we went in everyone would know it was us just because we couldn’t stop laughing. It would be obvious. And even that was assuming Mike, who had looked directly into my eyes, somehow failed to recognize either me or our car.

Poor Lena was toast.

At the office door Lena looked at me accusingly. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Bloosh,” I answered.

We stepped into the office, trying to get a handle on ourselves. Turns out we needn’t have made the effort. As soon as we walked in, the other young women (Mike only hired attractive girls) ran over, laughing and trying to be the first to tell us what happened. Eventually the decision was made to let us just go into Mike’s office and let him tell it, since he apparently told it better.

We shrugged at one another and went on in.

Totally a scene from an axe-murdering horror film. Mr. Axe is staring at the camera, while his next victim stands behind.
If walking into your boss’s office ever feels like this, it might be time to switch jobs.

There, behind his desk, sat Mike in a T-shirt and a pair of tighty-whities, with a huge grin on his face. The other women filtered in behind us to listen to the story again.

Mike spent the next five minutes regaling us with the story of how he was walking with his umbrella in front of the Taco Bell and flirting through the glass with a sorority girl he recognized.

He mimed holding his hand up to his face, thumb and pinkie outstretched to indicate him silently asking her for her telephone number.

 But suddenly, from behind him, a teeth rattling HOOORNK! thundered out, and an eighteen-wheeler roared through a gigantic lake of rainwater, driving a solid wall of water up beneath his umbrella, which caught it and dumped it back down on his head. The force of the blow knocked him back into the window, which he bounced off of and landed in the returning tide on the sidewalk.

The sorority girl and her companions laughed at him and left without giving him their numbers.

Three sorority girls flouncing away.
Buh-bye, whatever your name is!

The idea that Mike had mistaken the Ford Explorer for a semi-truck seemed hard enough to believe, but the cover that everyone else’s laughter gave our own made it seemed destined that not only did Mike deserve the unexpected wash we gave him, but that we would get away with it.

We have laughed over this story for thirty years now.

Just a few years after the incident, we gave Mike a birthday card with a hand-drawn illustration of Lena and me in the Explorer, driving an oversized splash of water onto a cringing Mike, his delicate domed umbrella clutched in his horrified hands. By this time he had told everyone he knew the story innumerable times, growing with every telling. While Mike found the truth of the matter decidedly less funny than we did, all of the other people at the restaurant table he had paid in free food to come to his birthday thought it was hysterical, and Lena and I were heroes.


A gigantic wave under a storm-filled sky.
This seems like an accurate depiction of the amount of water involved.

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