Monday, December 28, 2009

Road Trips in the Flintstonefossilmobile

I have no memory of what type of car Mom drove to get us around when my sisters and I were young and my dad was working. I think it was a Ford. I do remember the dread we felt when we got into it though.

I refer to it as the Flintstonefossilmobile because it had a hole in floor of the back seat, and we could pretend we were driving the car with our feet just like Fred Flintstone used to do.

All three of us were embarrassed to be seen in it, and we definitely didn't want any attention drawn to us, but with a muffler that sounded like a Harley on acid, we were doomed to grab the attention of anybody within a twelve block radius.

And we did. EVERYBODY turned around to identify the sonic boom that shook the ground as we paraded down the street, and all three sisters crouched down in the back seat to hide from the leerers.

Despite our attempts to hide, though, Mom had a magical way of drawing even more unwanted attention our way. One day, as she was driving us to school, a spider dropped from the roof to align with her eyes. We didn't know about the spider when the car veered toward the curb, because the spider wiped out Mom's ability to speak, but we knew we were scared.

"Mom, you're getting close to the curb!" I'm sure the spider was taunting her at this point, but, as I said, we were unaware of its presence. Mom didn't want to touch the spider and the only thing she could do was pray that it went back up its web. It didn't.

"Mom, STOP! You're on the curb!" It hung in front of her, probably thinking (do spiders have brains), "Hmmm I see you have your children in the back seat. Let's see if we can cause this old jalopy to crash like a tin can." Her eyes widened as she thought about how to get rid of the hanging spider, totally oblivious to the fact that she WAS DRIVING.

After she clunked over the curb, we called out, "Mom, you're on the grass now! Slow down!" We saw the front steps of the house directly in our path become an obvious target. Closer and closer to our car it appeared. Mom, however, heavy leaden (though microscopically small) foot on the accelerator, saw only the spider.

By this time, maniacal children were screaming all around us. Oh, wait…that was the three of us. MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!

She stopped just short of the steps, quickly threw the car in park, and ran out of the car, leaving the three of us in the early stages of a heart attack.

Yes, driving with my family has always been interesting. And occasionally, for one reason or another, my parents have been known to abandon the car in a hurry and leave at least one of us inside.

On a trip through the Arizona desert, for instance, WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING in the MIDDLE OF AUGUST a wasp flew into the car. My sister, Cindy, a sound sleeper, had fallen asleep and didn't hear my mom scream, "GET OUT OF THE CAR. RIGHT NOW!!" So the rest of us jumped out of the car and waited for the wasp to stop crawling on her.

I still remember the look on her face when she awoke to see all of us staring at her from outside the car and hearing my parents tell her, "Don't move!"

Those words haunt me. We were on a trip to a place in Michigan that I think was called Smallbones Resort. It was located somewhere around the Three Sisters Lake. The resort no longer exists, from what I hear, but when we were kids we made several trips there with cousins, aunts, and uncles.

On the "Don't move!" day, when I was around thirteen years old, a wasp landed on my shoulder. Mom went into a frenzy. "DON'T MOVE!" she commanded me. We had recently been told that I was highly allergic to bee stings and that if one stung me three times I would die. I stood like a tin soldier.

Mom and Dad stood in front of me watching the wasp wander across my shoulder. I trembled with fear. My father grabbed a rolled up newspaper and my parents argued about whether or not to swat it.

Dad raised the newspaper.

"NO! Don't. It might sting her."

"But if I don't, it might sting her anyway."

"Stand completely still. DON'T MOVE!"

He raised the newspaper again. I squinted my eyes waiting for the assault, either from the newspaper or the wasp.

"NO! Don't. It might sting her."

"But if I don't, it might sting her anyway."

"Stand completely still. DON'T MOVE!"

He tried again. I thought I was going to pass out.

"NO! Don't. It might sting her."

"But if I don't, it might sting her anyway."

"Stand completely still. DON'T MOVE!"

Repeat numerous times, and each time, picture the bee crawling further up my neck.

Eventually, with one swift movement, my father slammed the newspaper into my neck and killed the wasp. I think my nervous system became permanently damaged that day, and years of bug panic contributed to a lifelong morbid fear of anything crawling or flying.

It might not surprise you to learn that we all suffered from bugphobia (it's a term used only for my family, so perhaps you've never heard of it). For most of our lives, especially when it concerned bees, wasps, and spiders, we lived in fear of anything that we perceived to be harmful.

And that included tiny little insect-sized humans who drove fossil cars, like my mother.

(image from

No comments:

Post a Comment