Don’t. Speed. Through. South. Carolina. (tales from a former faux southern hippie)

Driver's License, 1972

Flashback, Summer 1972.  You and your cousin, age seventeen, are wearing tube tops, bell bottoms and flip-flops, with hair two feet straight down the back and parted in the middle and immense chandelier earrings you’d bought at the Gay Dolphin in Myrtle Beach.  With a swish of hair, you leap into the front seat of your canary yellow Camara and hot-foot it down Highway 17 like Super Fly.  You suck down cokes and crank up Eric Clapton.

Lo and behold, blue lights start flashing from behind, and you pull off on the sandy shoulder, cussing up a southern storm–using words such as dadgummit and dadburnit amongst choice others.

The trooper sidles up to you and asks for your license. It doesn’t help that y’all look like what they call, hippie freaks, which does not bode well with the trooper.  He is as cool as iced tea with his hat clamped around his forehead, and states that you were going 15 over the limit and that and you owe him $100. Cash.

You have no checkbook, no credit card, no cellphone.   You tell him that you have twenty-four dollars and thirty-two cents.  They didn’t cover this in Driver’s Ed.  Can’t they just bill you?   You and your cousin sit Indian-style on the hood, under live oaks draped with Spanish moss.  Bummer.  Man–you were gunning it to get home so you could meet that cute guy Kyle–winged hair,  jean jacket, Frye boots– at the Silver Dollar.

Then y’all get scared.  What’s that movie where hippies travel through Mississippi and never come back out?  Does it count that y’all are really just FAUX SOUTHERN HIPPIES and just dress like the real ones?  After a couple of hours, he gets out of his squad car, takes your cash, and peels off.  No points ever appeared.

Fast forward, 2011.  Age double-nickles, you climb into your old tan SUV to drive home from the beach.  J. Crew top, black jeans, hair  foot long and parted on the side, small chandelier earrings, flip-flops.  As you try to find the beach music station, you pass a parked patrolman.

No. frickin. way.  You’re not real speedy by nature, but this is the only state where you’ve ever been caught going over the limit.

You remember a sweet, nerdy lawyer friend, who’d just left her firm to drive back to her apartment one night.  Soon there was a flashing rack behind her on the highway; she got all nervous and searched for a well-lit spot.  She hesitated for so long that the patrolman in pursuit called for reinforcements, and by the time gentle Julia exited, she was surrounded by 3 squad cars in a Chic-fil-a parking lot, as she quaked in her perm and dark suit–complete with a bow tie blouse, supp-hose and sturdy pumps.

The gas station is chock-full of folks staring at you as you pull in, softly cussing up a southern storm–dadgummit, etc.   Face burning, you scrunch down in your seat like you are seventeen again. Even your children have never gotten tickets.  What are the rules now?  Will he search your car?  What’s in your car?  A humble chicken salad sandwich in tin-foil.  Duffel bag, stale snacks and bottled water, some shirts to take to the cleaners.  Quickly you try to look as Mom-ish and boring as possible.  You gather your hair up into a pony tail, fluff up your neck pillow, take off your aviators, and apply reading glasses.  You re-position your Diet Green Tea and packet of Nabs, and then pull out your license and registration.

He takes your cards and disappears.  With horror you realize your back window sports big fat decals of  South Carolina’s two major football rivals.  Hmmm.  Too late to rip those babies off.  To add insult to injury, your state license plate is their third biggest enemy.

He crunches back over and hands you a ticket.  You can mail in a check.  Your cell phone suddenly sings out, “Bell Bottom Blues,” and you hastily turn it off.  Easy.  Done.

You are the only one of  five sibs who has not attended traffic school;  you gotta hold on to that record. 

Missing that date with Kyle?  Thank God.

South of the Border

Image by J. Stephen Conn via Flickr



A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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20 Responses to Don’t. Speed. Through. South. Carolina. (tales from a former faux southern hippie)

  1. Jim says:

    I take it the packet of Nabs identifies you as a gen-you-wine Southerner? 🙂

  2. Tori Nelson says:

    Haha! Love the phone chirping “Bell Bottom Blues”. There was no getting out of that one!

  3. ryoko861 says:

    I’ll keep this in mind next time I travel south, which will hopefully be soon!

    They were so much more lenient back in the ’70’s. I remember getting pulled over with two friends in her Chevette with empty beer cans in the back. They searched the car and let us go, no ticket or anything, just a warning. Whew! Now? They’d haul your ass in and arrest you! Mug shot and all!
    Ah, the good ol’ days……

  4. Great story!! Wait…you haven’t been caught speeding since 1972?? You, my dear, are living right. Actually, so have I since I’ve only been stopped by a patrolman once several years ago. My crime? Going 60 in a 40 mph zone. The worst thing about it wasn’t the embarrassment of being pulled over, or the hefty fine…it was having my 14-year-old son in the car with me! Way to be a great role model, Mom! :-O Of course, we were darting from the orthodontist to get him to basketball practice on time because the coach had declared no excuses for being late to practice. So can I just blame it on the coach? Nope, no excuses….

  5. winsomebella says:

    The rules have changed but you’ve still got the record. Hooray!

  6. Thanks, Winsome! Am barely hangin’ on for now!

  7. Your driver’s license looks like mine! Long straight hair, parted in the middle. Below the neck you would have found a pointed collared shirt, bell bottoms and colorful sandals. Oh the horrors of learning to drive after they licensed me…miraculously no tickets until my 20’s when I was caught in a speed trap…you know “now you’re at 60—when did it change to 45?” Fun post.

  8. Leah says:

    Great story! I’ve been pulled over (and ticketed) for speeding once in my life. I was 8 months pregnant. You’d think they would have cut me a break. But nope! I mailed that check the day before I went to the hospital to have Sophie.

  9. Ahhh! I love it. And love this line, “Does it count that y’all are really just FAUX SOUTHERN HIPPIES and just dress like the real ones?” 🙂

    I can’t believe you still have your driver’s license — I’ve had to turn in all my old ones whenever I get a new one. Maybe I’m on some kind of a list…

    Last week I was out in California, visiting my sister (who just had a baby girl! Yay!) and apparently they have a hands-free cell phone policy in CA. I try never to talk on my phone while driving anyway, but I was on my way to the LAX airport to pick up my sister’s mother-in-law (say that five times fast) and she (the MIL) called right as I was pulling off the highway into this unknown airport.

    I picked up the call, as I wanted to assure her that I was there, and would be waiting for her by baggage claim. In the span of that 30 seconds, I also drove right up to a police checkpoint, and of course, they stopped me. I rolled my sister’s window down (as I was driving her car, this was LA and I had just flown in from Boston the night before). Anyway, I saw some annoyed looking person staring at me, but I didn’t even realize he was a cop! He had on some all-blue uniform, and I swear, no badge.

    Once the window was down, I said into the phone, “Would you mind if I called you back?” And the policeman barked at me, “YES. That would be GOOD idea.”

    Then he went on about how clearly I was a California driver (had the license plate on the front of the car) and I should know better than to talk on the phone… and long story short I showed him my Massachusetts license and he let me go. With a loud warning that the kind of ticket he COULD have given me was very expensive…

    Guess I’m lucky. If you count being pulled over by the police within 12 hours of landing in the state as lucky. 🙂

  10. Life's amazing journey says:

    Love the southern vocab 🙂

  11. This was a fun post, Reeling! Thanks for the giggle!


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