Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Temporarily Van-glorious

When I was a freshman in high school, my parents had three cars between them. One of the three was a Volkswagen Rabbit with a diesel engine that my father bought during the gas crisis in the late seventies. This was a very good idea, because he didn't ever have to wait in line for gas. For whatever reason, he held onto the fucking thing until 1994, but that's him, and that's the sort of thing he did. His other vehicle was a Ford Econoline van. He drove the Rabbit to work every day in the Bronx, and used the van for hauling shit back and forth to his other job out on Long Island.

He later bought a Cadillac Eldorado and bragged about having "climate control." This is now known as "air conditioning."

My mother drove a Mercury Marquis station wagon. I loved that station wagon. It was, as she said, "like riding on a cloud." Both my parents worked, and my father would keep the van in the garage when he wasn't home because we lived in a neighborhood where people without important jobs like his might think about stealing his crappy crown moldings and plywood when he wasn't around. When my mother had the station wagon in the garage -- it made unloading groceries easier on her -- he'd back the van into the driveway so its rear doors were flush against the front of the garage. You couldn't get them open that way.

One day during freshman year, while my parents were still at work, I decided to take the van for a drive. This was a great deal of fun, so I started doing it every day. I was fourteen.

When taking the van for joyrides wasn't enough for me, I started driving it to school and soliciting hot girls to allow me to drive them home. Some girls are more stupid than others -- this remains the case well into adulthood -- and nobody ever expressed any curiosity as to why a fourteen-year-old was driving a 1978 Econoline van around a public school. Word spread that it was possible to make it home with me behind the wheel, and I soon had a rather attractive clientele. I was deeply in love with them all. The highlight of this was the afternoon I managed to coerce a senior girl named Stephanie into the back of the van for ten minutes of awkward tongue-jamming excitement.

On the way home from one of these chauffeuring expeditions, I saw the Rabbit parked in the driveway. This meant my father was home. I left the van around the block and walked back to the house, hoping he'd think I was just getting in from school. I turned to Jesus and asked Him to keep my father out of the garage. When I opened the front door, he was sitting in the kitchen waiting for me.

"Go get the fucking van."

And then I got the shit kicked out of me.


Thanksgiving is coming.