Car accidents, I’ve had a few…

In what must have been 1997, because the song Barbie Girl was released that year (it was how I referred to my best friend’s girlfriend), I was in a car accident.

Barbie’s family had a house next to a lake outside of Johannesburg, and we were going to drive to the lake in tandem with some other dude and his girlfriend one weekend. I don’t recall specifics about the other dude except that his name was Dan and he had long hair. It was only a year since I’d had my own hair cut short, and I was studying for my diploma at computer college.

Barbie and my friend were in the front of her car and she was driving. It was a two-door Honda of some sort, and I remember finding the back seat extremely cramped.

(I guess I should mention that if you need someone to test headroom in a car, just ask me because I have the torso of a person much taller than me. Something happened in my younger days where my legs didn’t get as long as they should have.)

So I was in the rear of a small car with no headroom, and Dan was driving behind us. I’d heard it said that people who are driving in tandem should leave space between them, and I found out why.

At an orange traffic light, Barbie figured she’d brake so that Dan wouldn’t get stuck there, and then we’d have to wait for him on the side of the road to catch up. Dan didn’t get the memo, and when he saw the orange light, he decided to gun it to jump the light to keep up with us.

It turns out that red Toyotas are much softer than white Hondas and tend to leak coolant all over the asphalt. It also turns out that concussion and whiplash are a bad combination for Randolph.

In an earlier blog post I said that after a high speed accident, I wore a neck brace for six weeks and went for months of physiotherapy. This accident is why.

Dan was going about 60 km/h when he decided to accelerate to make the light. Barbie was slowing down rapidly, so the effective speed that Dan went into the back of us was somewhere between 30 and 50 km per hour.

I remember thinking, as we waited for the tow truck to arrive, that I didn’t want to go to the lake in the first place. I remember thinking, after Dan acquired another vehicle hours later, that it was now too late to go to the lake and enjoy ourselves. We still went. I did not enjoy the experience at all, and knowing what I know now about concussion and whiplash, I’m not surprised. I should have gone to the hospital instead. At least the conversation would have been more stimulating.

This was probably the accident that caused some damage to my spine which was picked up in later X-rays, but we were young and stupid.

I still think of that accident when Barbie Girl plays. I haven’t thought of Dan until now. Curious how memory works.

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