Writing assignment – Your father’s music

by admin on September 18, 2010

Inspired by Patrick Rhone.

“David, we’re late,” my mother says, stuffing me into cold weather clothes. Before I can reply she’s whirling around the kitchen grabbing lunchboxes, backpacks and her own coat and hat with the dexterity of a quick-change artist. She opens the door and the cold air hits us like a board.

“Into the Embarras-mobile,” she says. “Go.”

The Embarras-mobile was an ocean blue Ford Galaxy 500 with no hubcaps, fist-sized rust holes and discolored patches of unsanded Bond-O. It was huge — with a hood like a helipad and bench seats half a mile long.

I climb in. The windshield is covered by a thin sheet of ice. My mother cranks the defroster and peers through a shoebox-sized hole in the frost.

She clicks the radio on. “Another Saturday Night” by Sam Cooke floats through the speakers. “Ugh,” she says. “Your father’s music.” She shifts it into drive and hits the gas.

My father listened to the “oldies” station with a smile on his face. “Someday,” he’d tell us, “I’ll take the car to the car wash, drive through the spray and the brushes and when I come out on the other side … it’ll be 1963.”

“That’s an odd wish,” I’d say, but he wouldn’t answer. He was far away, lost in blissful memory.

My mother turns the corner and the icy windshield suddenly shimmers with sunlight. “I can’t see,” she says.

I roll down my window and stick my head outside. “Don’t worry, mom,” I say. “I can see. Keep going.”

“Are you sure?” she says, hitting the brake.

“Yeah,” I say. The frigid air makes my eyes water. “Just keep going straight ahead.”

The collision throws me hard against my seat belt. We hit a parked pickup truck.

I thought you could see?” my mother says.

“I thought I could, too,” I say. Now the radio was playing “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” and I was wishing for a magical car wash.

* * *

Last week, my wife and I took the kids to the playground. After three days of bickering in the house, we needed to get out.

We pulled out of the driveway and my wife turned on the radio. A Van Halen song blasted from the speakers.

“Jeeze, hon!” she shouted, turning the volume down. “Don’t leave it on like that.”

“Sorry,” I said.

“What was that?” Gracie asked from the back seat.

“Your father’s music,” My wife said.

“Someday Grace,” I told her, “I’ll go to the car wash ….”