Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Talk Thursday: START THE CAR!!

Well, actually that's supposed to be TURN THE CAR AROUND!! but I think it amounts to basically the same thing; something of monumental importance just happened and the nearest vehicle needs to be commandeered into getting over there immediately (or out of there immediately) so that whatever it is can be Dealt With. When I was growing up in North Dakota, Turn The Car Around almost always meant there was an animal. There were, you see, many long drives between Here and There, with lots of Not Much in between, so if you saw two or three cars on the side of the road, especially near a slough or a pond or some other source of water, it was almost certainly an animal. So you turned the car around and doubled back to the pond/ slough/river in a hurry so that everybody could pile out of the car and check out the moose/deer/black bear/man-eating turtle or whatever the hell. Thus do I remember many fond encounters with nature. Some of them, though, turned out to be ordinary cows, lost in translation along the side of State Route 50. Whatever they were, you never wanted to get close. They might have babies. And you might piss them off.

Other times, Turn The Car Around was a threat, direct or indirect, as to what would happen if You Kids Don't Behave. This is one of the tools from the Mom Toolbox. If the kids are fighting about who's taking up the most room in the back seat, whose turn it is to use the binoculars, who said what to whom or whatever piece of drama three-to-ten-year-olds can come up with during a long car trip, Mom simply said, "If you kids don't knock it off right now, I'm going to Turn The Car Around." Instant silence. No matter what happened, we didn't want them to Turn The Car Around. Surely something dire would occur if the car got turned around. Even if we were going someplace we actually didn't want to go, we still didn't want Them (the grownups) to Turn The Car Around. I'm not sure why. Maybe if they Turned The Car Around, we wouldn't get to see the animal.

All things considered, I'm pleased that Turn The Car Around has given way to Start The Car!! That all started during my fetish with balloons. No, not that kind of fetish. It was just that, for some reason, I started getting this mad compulsion to steal ornamental balloons. The kind people tied to their porch if they were having a party or an open house. Restaurants were better, because they used more balloons, and because I felt a little less guilty stealing balloons from a commercial establishment than I did stealing them from a private house. Anyway, I'd sneak up on the balloon display, take a nail file out of my purse, saw through two or three of the cords, grab the balloons and run back to wherever Joan was, yelling, "START THE CAR!!" Horrified that we might get arrested for grand theft balloon, she'd fire up the engine and we'd speed off into the night, now possessed of two or three completely useless rubber objects filled with helium. We never kept them. I always made her slow down at the first sign of little kids, and we'd offer them through the window. "Hey, kid, want a balloon?" I'm sure lots of horror movies start out with that same line.

For the life of me, I don't know why I stole balloons, or why I stopped, but it's a good thing I did before I got really crazy and decided to steal a hot air balloon. (It was just a matter of time.) So I've reverted to Turn The Car Around whenever I'm driving through Nowhere, Texas, where there are plenty of animals. The problem is, most of the animals you see by the side of the road in Texas are armadillos, and most armadillos you see in Texas are, uh, dead. Something about the fact that they jump to about bumper height when startled, which they often are, especially when they hear somebody yell, "START THE CAR!!"


Cele said...

How do you make that so funny. I am mentally imagining you scrambling for the car, balloons trailing, as you scream "Start the Car". Too funny,.

Marcia Wall said...

Thanks for the good laugh! Hope you are well.