Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Are We There Yet?

Last night while driving home from dinner, Arget-Tay and the record store, the Mr. and I wound up behind a minivan that appeared to be airing a movie. Instead of focusing on driving, I pulled up close behind them to see what they were watching (some cartoon), then I realized that was probably a little dangerous. In typical fashion, I blamed them for luring me in. "They shouldn't put those things in their cars, because it's just making me want to see what their movie is, and I'm going to crash."

"Those things are stupid. Hey, you know what we did as kids when we were sitting and riding in the car? We sat and rode in the car."

No kidding. Do kids not play the "out-of-state-plates" game anymore? Or that game where you find an object to correspond with every letter of the alphabet? I Spy? Is any of this ringing a bell? Or what about that precious, invaluable sibling bonding time, where you tease and beat on each other mercilessly until your dad turns around and threatens to either whack the both of you upside the head and/or pull the car to the side of the road? Do it when you're 8, you'll get grounded at worst. Beat on your brother at 30, you're looking at misdemeanor assault, most likely.

Not that I have done that in my adult life, but that's because I got it out of my system back then.

Why, back in my day, my brothers, sister and I often read books in the back of my dad and stepmom's van. I think I read just about every Nancy Drew book surrounded by that wood-paneling, sprawled out on the brown velvet sofa with the leather armrests. Oh, yeah. This was a classy van. If we weren't doing that, we were rocking out to Earth, Wind & Fire and Donna Summer on the eight-track player.

We made fun of that van, but we adored it, too. We called it the Brownmobile. Hey, what do you want? We were 8 and younger. Dad bought it shortly before I started kindergarten, before he and my mom divorced. The interior originally had nothing in it except the driver's seat. Dad added everything else later. He took me to my first day of kindergarten in the van, and I rode in the back on the floor.

The sofa could be pulled out to become a bed, and the four of us kids fit on it perfectly. When we took off on a long trip, say, to Disneyland or the family cabin in the mountains to go skiing, we'd gather up our pillows, blankets and books and settle in for the long drive.

And then there was the time my stepbrother Glenn politely and quietly threw up in a little empty cereal box because the hills and curves made him carsick. No one knew he did that until we made a pit stop and he told my stepmom.

You can't buy memories like that. Not even at Arget-Tay.