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A Boy, A Date, and the Garage Door

Every year at this time, my mind slips back to past springs. Inevitably, I remember one specific incident that occurred about this time of year, many years ago.

It was an achingly beautiful afternoon in late spring. I was seventeen and I had a date to see a play and have dinner in Salt Lake. It promised to be a perfect evening. Unfortunately, I was running a few minutes late.

I backed the suburban out quickly.

Too quickly.

Over twenty years later, I’ve still never heard anything as sickening as the crunch of the ascending garage door being forcibly introduced to the suburban’s luggage rack. The door was ruined. It wasn’t moving anywhere.

(The garage door. It only looks solid.)

My family was at Grandma’s. Should I call them? Nah. Why worry Dad needlessly?

A quick note seemed like a good idea. I’d express contrition, reassure my dad. That would give him time to calm down. When I got home, we could discuss everything reasonably and rationally, like adults.

It was a great evening. The play was enjoyably bad. The restaurant was sophisticated and just slightly romantic.

I drove home with deep thoughts filling my mind.

Did she like me?

Had she meant to grab my arm that once?

Should I ask her out again next weekend? Or, play it cool and try two weeks….

“Dad! Hi! How….”

My vision of a calm, rational, adult conversation had eluded my father.



He couldn’t be serious.

“Dad, no way! Sleep in the garage? Until the door’s fixed? Why?”

“What do you mean, ‘protect our stuff’? Dad! This is Farmington, Utah! No one lives here! Like someone’s going to steal your power tools.”

Earlier, I had resolved to be patient with him, but now he was really irritating me. Nevertheless, I decided to show him that his cheap tricks couldn’t break me.

I dragged my box spring, mattress, and comforter up to a corner of the garage that appeared to be reasonably spider-free. I carefully applied large blobs of Oxy 10. Then I covered my face with the comforter for maximum spider protection.

(This is where I put my mattress and stuff--there was no table at the time)

Nestled between the steps to the house and the front end of the suburban, I floated away into sleep. My first dream started. I heard voices—and then realized that the voices were not a dream. They were real. In the garage. Like ten feet away from me.

Had they seen me?

If I stayed very still and quiet, would they go away?

I could always pretend that I’d just slept through the whole thing.

But that would be cowardly. I thought of my date, and I grew strong and powerful.

My adrenaline started pumping. In one movement, I jumped up to the top of the steps that led to the house and flicked the lights on. Two men turned to face me. Suddenly, my adrenaline ran away and hid, leaving me totally alone. All I could do was yell, something like, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” Then I ran into the house, slammed and bolted the door.

(This is where I issued my passionate but inarticulate call to repentance )

Mom and Dad heard the noise and called the police.

We never found the two robbers—but across our front lawn there was a trail of dropped power tools.


Braden's first book, The Road Show ( is being released this week.  He blogs at

Photos courtesy of Andrea Wright

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