Road Trips, Then and Now

We were about this old when we held Mike out the window. It could have been this exact trip.

We were about this old when we held Mike out the window. It could have been this exact trip.

When I was a kid, we almost exclusively road tripped when we went on vacations. Mom and Dad would put down the seats in the station wagon, throw some sheets down to protect the car from our filthy selves, and the four of us would be untethered projectiles– just rolling around back there for hundreds of miles. (Where was Mike, you ask? — strapped into his carseat, right in the middle of the front seat, of course.) We had coloring books and crayons. We had the card game Uno. When we got hot, we would ask Dad to roll down the back window– this had the extra attraction of our then being able to surreptitiously throw things out of the car. While towing our camper, Dad could only see out the side windows– so we had free reign to act like idiots, and woe to anyone with the misfortune of driving behind us (we never even considered this possibility). Many an apple core or half-sandwich was thrown merrily out that back window, and as far as we were concerned, they simply disappeared into a harmless abyss.

Until one day someone threw a piece of gum, which stuck to the trailer hitch. Stuck to the trailer hitch! Oh my God- red alert! If Dad saw GUM ON THE TRAILER HITCH, we would all be dead. What do we do? How do we get it off? The four of us huddled back there, desperately planning; Mikey happened to be back there with us at that time. So, quite naturally, we held Mike out the back window to get it.

Make no mistake: this actually happened. We actually hung our youngest brother out the back window of a moving car, trying to get a piece of gum off the trailer hitch.

Anyway, he was too short and useless to reach it. So Jill had to fake an immediate diarrhea attack, so that we could get off the freeway and get the gum before Dad saw it. Plan B worked flawlessly. It is only now, as an adult, I absolutely cannot believe that we thought this was the most rational approach to gum on a trailer hitch- but as children we were so proud of our innovation to avoid disaster.

When we take my kid on road trips, they are all watching Netflix on their tablets and adjusting their individual AC controls. We hardly even hear from them unless they have to pee, and even if they wanted to hang each other out the back window, those windows don’t open.

They have no idea. None.

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