Voice from the backseat: an explanation

For me at least, the most important, most memorable conversations seem to happen in the car.  There are no distractions, and there is no escape.  And it is usually impossible to sustain any meaningful / awkward eye contact for any length of time.  Since adding kids into the equation, the sheer volume of material that drifts up from the backseat is irresistible.  Some topics that we’ve covered include:

  • Who has more body parts, boys or girls?
  • Why can’t I have a phone?
  • Besides narwhal, what is your favorite marine mammal?
  • Would you rather bungee jump off a bridge or skydive?
  • Why can’t I have a phone?
  • Why did that girl in my class say that Hillary Clinton wants to kill all the unborn babies?
  • I don’t like to think about you having gray hair, because that means you’re getting old and are going to die.
  • Why can’t I have a phone?

The first conversation I remember having in the car happened when I was in the backseat of the blue boat of a Chevy that I remember as my family’s first car, although photographic evidence would suggest that dad’s orange Vega was actually the first. When we kids were little, mom would schlep us to the YMCA two or three days a week for what we affectionately called “gym and swim.”  We took infant and toddler swimming classes and then did various calisthenics and ran around while mom had a reprieve from the solitary confinement of life at home with a string of small children in the days before the internet and cable TV.  Once after gym and swim I must have been passing a lot of gas in the Chevy, because mom glanced at me in the rearview mirror and asked if I had to go B.M. and I had absolutely no idea what that meant, and how could I possible be involved in anything so official sounding?  We were driving toward the old post office in Janesville, just down the street from the Y, and maybe that pseudo-Greek building dominating the view out the windshield added to the feeling that this was Truly Something Big.  Anyway, that’s my first memory in the car, with its white vinyl upholstery and wide bench seats and the smell of chlorine in my hair.

What is your best car story?  Earliest car memory?

2 thoughts on “Voice from the backseat: an explanation

  1. Well, it was a yellow station wagon with the faux wood panels, sticky brown vinyl seats, and the “jump seat” which enabled my sister an I to communicate with cars behind us in the best way kids know how. I was 5 and my sister 2. Similar to your mom identifying an odor in the car, my mom did the same on one specific trip. She then said aloud, “If some little girl pooped her pants, she’s going to be in big trouble.” Hmmm, had I done that? Or was it my kid sister? Either way, it really doesn’t matter because “big trouble” meant serious consequences (and no, not a time out). After parking the car in the parking lot of the grocery store, a woman approached my mother from another car asking if she knew that someone was throwing things out the window of the car as she drove down the road. And those things were…yep, turds. The sheer fear of the “big trouble” caused one of us to empty our pants of the evidence. Alas, I don’t remember which one of us it was 🙂

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