Writing, Behind the Scenes, The Writer's Desk

Jack & Diane's 'What if'

flat tire
flat tire

My ideas often come to me from various thoughts and observations that are constantly rolling around in my head. The sparks for Jack and Diane are my real life experiences with cars and the number of confederate flags I see on vehicles in a Yankee state.

I don’t have the best luck with cars. It’s a non-scientific fact that I’ve been stuck on the side of the road more often than most. Almost every car that I’ve owned has landed me in the precarious position of being stranded on the side of the road. It makes no difference if it’s a clunker that a got for $1,000 or if I’m still making payments, at some time something happens that has me on the shoulder of the road.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a blown or flat tire.  I’ve also had my fuel pump stop working, while 9 months pregnant. There was a broken O2 sensor, but please don’t ask because I can only explain that it was expensive to fix. I had a car with a faulty transmission lock-up switch, which I can’t explain, but it wasn’t an expensive repair. The coups de grâce: a wheel literally fell off my car. Actually I don’t know if seeing the wheel rolling straight when I had turned was the worse. The time that I was about a mile and a half down the highway after getting an oil change and the engine locked up because the cap had not properly been put back on and all the oil leaked out, may win that title. The commonality with most of these scenarios is that a helpful Hoosier pulled over to help me.

Indiana was never part of the confederacy. Which is why I usually have a pretty visceral reaction to seeing a Confederate flags flying attached to car windows, or as a bumper sticker, or a vanity plate. That was until I learned that not everyone displaying it is doing so as a racial superiority statement. Some just see it as a rebel flag and a symbol of being a non-conformist.  Others view it as a source of Southern pride because they or their parents are from there. I even read an article about a Black college student that caused problems for displaying it in the window of his dorm room.

It was sometime after understanding the various interpretations of the flag that I was stranded on the side of the road (the oil change incident). That’s when a ‘what if’ popped in my head. What if a black female was stranded on the side of the road and the only car that came to help her had a confederate flag on display? This could have turned dark, and been some type of mystery, but my answer was and will likely always be they fall in love.