May 1985. For my high school senior prom, I was part of a double date. The other guy in our foursome had an uncle who worked as a limousine chauffeur, so he arranged for us to ride in style to our dinner and prom.
I drove my own car to my date’s home, and there the limo picked us up. “Uncle Bob” treated us like VIPs, opening the doors for us, calling us “sir” and “ma’am,” and drove the four of us to our fancy restaurant (fancy for a small town of less than 25,000 people).
Unbeknownst to us, Uncle Bob spent the hour while we ate dinner in the restaurant bar, drinking. When we were ready, he escorted us out to the car, opened our doors, and then drove us to our high school gymnasium.
While we were dancing and socializing at the prom, Uncle Bob had gone back to the bar. When 11:00 rolled around, our limo was back to pick us up as planned. But this time, Uncle Bob wasn’t alone.
Good ol’ Bob had two younger women up in the front seat with him. Now, note that Uncle Bob was a married man. Not knowing what to say about the situation, we teenagers were uncomfortably quiet during our ride towards home, along the rural back roads. And then halfway home, a sheriff’s deputy came up behind us and turned on his flashing lights. Uh oh.
Uncle Bob pulled the limo over. There was talk in the front seat about Bob’s breath smelling of alcohol, so one of the women gave him her chewing gum, right out of her mouth. The evening had gone from blissful ignorance, to uncomfortable silence, to surreal worry. What happens to a group of 16, 17, and 18 year olds (I was 17) if their limo driver gets arrested for DUI? Would our parents have to come pick us up? And we still had no idea who these two 20-something women were up in the front seat.
Well, after a brief conversation between the deputy and Uncle Bob, Bob was handcuffed and stuffed into the back of the deputy’s cruiser. The deputy asked the women to drive us prom kids home and then take the car where it belonged.
After the deputy left the scene, the women discussed what they were gonna do. We told them where to take us, and during the rest of our ride home, they debated where to leave the limo. Who would they tell? What to do with the keys? What about Uncle Bob’s wife? — they apparently knew he was married.
Well, we teenyboppers were dropped off, and the women drove away in the limo. The second half of our ride home had been even more quiet between the four of us than the first half had been. Having free limo service for our prom night seemed like such a great idea the day before.
I later heard that the two women drove the car back to Uncle Bob’s home, told his wife that he was in jail, and asked her to drive them back to their own car at the restaurant bar. This last bit of the tale is a bit apocryphal, as I wasn’t personally present, but I don’t dismiss it as not possibly true.