Sometimes people ask me why I turned out the way I did.
I tell them it’s because my family went for rides out in the country to look at fall colors.
It was either character forging or personality warping.
In any case, young people today could not begin to comprehend. No videos, no music players, no portable screens, no Internet. Just being trapped in the car with your irascible family for a seemingly geologic period of time.
“Look over there. Lots of red.”
“Oh, yes. I see. My, my. ”
Each fall the changing of the leaves reminds me of those meandering outings. I’m told I have been known to sit up in bed in the middle of a dream at this time of year and shout “Nooooooo!”
Often, going for a ride would coincide with visiting my grandmother. She was something of a foliage connoisseur and could remember long-ago autumns the way wine experts recall grape vintages.
Then there would be my parents and my older sister and brother. Sometimes we even squeezed in one of my grandmother’s loquacious friends. There was extremely no personal space.
Now this was quite a few years before the popularity of the expression, “Shoot me now.” But my bored, claustrophobic brother did a rather poor job of masking the fact that he clearly was considering opening a door and hurling himself from the moving car.
My teenage sister, as I recall, occasionally used going for a ride as an opportunity to explore new frontiers of disagreement with my mother about a wide array of topics. Add my grandmother’s always helpful input to that mix and, well, what is it they say in New Orleans – let the good times roll.
My father? He kept driving. A World War II bombardier who had seen plenty of combat, he knew how to stay focused despite distractions.
Me? I suspect I resented being dragged away from my comic books, monster magazines and TV shows. But the truth is I now look back on those rides with fondness.
Maybe that’s because most of those who had been crammed into the car are gone now.
I don’t suppose kids today would sit still for a seasonal splendor tour. That’s too bad.
And the sad thing is they don’t even know what they’re missing.
Today’s Slice question: How is your workplace like the Donner Party?