The Worst Day of 1979: A True Story of the Consequences of Directing Instaplay!

16 Feb

After much anticipatory anxiety and a sleepless night we perform our first business Instaplay! It’s for Hewlett Packard and it’s a big success. Hurrah! We all drive home very happy in our cars. But wait! Cheri’s Honda Civic starts overheating. Luckily, we call her Grandpa Nat and he drives us to L.A. That is the end of our luck this day unless you think not dying on the freeway in a fiery crash is fortunate.

The next day we head out to pick up Cheri’s car in El Toro. Two thirds of the way there my (used and abused) Barracuda’s engine starts giving off horror film sounds. My eyes are already burning from the Orange County smog but whatever is going on under my hood makes them worse. The Barracuda starts to die in my hands. My heart is pounding like crazy as I try to steer in a sharp diagonal across the 405 while the power steering starts to fail and the car rapidly slows to almost stopped. Cars speed around us like merry bumper cars. One of them is going to crash into us any second. Somehow, I manage to get it from the fast lane all the way to the off-ramp. Cheri and I exchange looks that you only see in movies. The Barracuda is sad and silent. Kerput.

The AAA guy says “you spun a bearing”. (To this day I don’t know what it means but it has something to do with running out of oil while going seventy-five miles an hour.) It will cost me $800 to get a new engine. (This for a car that I paid $350 for.) The AAA guy advises me to sell it for junk.

Cheri calls her Grandpa Nat and all these junk places. (At a pay phone. Cell phones are still off in the Buck Rogers future.) Cheri heads off to get her Honda. The junk guy pulls up. He is the Grim Reaper in greasy t-shirt and jeans. So, he has actually made the perfect career choice. He gives me $75 in cash. My first ever car is towed away never to be seen again.

Cheri arrives in her Honda. It is steaming like a Hill Billy cliche. Her car is still broken. We use three pounds of change at pay phones. The same AAA guy tows us to the Honda place.

After spending all day at gas stations, 7/11s, and freeway exits with smoking vehicles we have had it. It hasn’t registered yet that I no longer have a car. (In L.A. even homeless people have cars.) Finally Cheri’s dad, Howie rescues us and gets us a rental car. We go home.

Thus ends a terrible day. No day will equal this until 1995 when we decide to create a girl buddy comedy for NBC.


4 Responses to “The Worst Day of 1979: A True Story of the Consequences of Directing Instaplay!”

  1. Adeline Hopkins (@AdelineCHopkins) February 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM #

    Dreamy…. !

  2. kay February 17, 2012 at 2:56 PM #

    Yeah, but you’ll always have this picture…

  3. Steve White February 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM #

    Bill – I need to hear more about the 70’s from you – think you could give me an interview for the Founding the Groundlings book?
    your fellow G- Steve W

  4. SiouxP February 22, 2012 at 3:23 PM #

    As you know— Being married to John I LOVE a good car disaster story.
    Beautiful pic of you & Cheri, though. Love Sioux. 🙂

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