Saturday, November 1, 2008

The White Wagon, Part One

The White Wagon
----Part One----

My earliest memories are hazy. I’m curled up on the floor beneath our kitchen table. I’m snuggling with mom in Osh-Gosh-B-Gosh overalls (sometimes in Nebraska we call them overhauls). I’m sitting on a tractor somewhere. My recollections emerge from the realm of sleepy time dreamland at about the six year mark. I remember a few things quite specifically from 1984. I remember the Olympics in Los Angeles and Sarajevo. I remember voting for Ronald Reagan at my elementary school election. And I remember the day my father replaced our brown piece of crap car with a white piece of crap car.

Our first family car was a rusty brown Buick called the Beater Eater. The Beater Eater was not a cool ride. It was like driving around in a crusty piece of poop. On hot summer days, my little five year old legs stuck to the superheated bubble-wrap that covered portions of the back seat. It felt like the car was trying to consume me, to suck me into its brown crappiness. I don’t know why there was semi-permanent bubble wrap covering the bench seat in the back of the car, but I guess they did things like in the seventies. It was a decade of bad ideas.

The transition from Beater Eater to White Wagon taught us all an object lesson in upward mobility. The American Dream teaches us that we can all improve our circumstances through hard work and tenacity. If that doesn’t work, you can at least trade in a rusted out crappy car for a more roomy and comfortable slightly less crappy car.

For the next fourteen years the White Wagon was more then just a source of embarrassment for the four kids in my family. It was a member of the family. We grew up together -- the car, my brother and sisters, and me. We all drove her. We all loved her and we all hated her. This is the story of our lives together.

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