There were times when my kids were younger, all of us crammed into the car for a cozy 10 hour roadtrip, when I opened my mouth only to hear my mother’s voice come out: “I swear I’m going to pull over and then you’ll be sorry!” Occasionally, I’d come up with something fabulously original like, “Where the hell is the Ejection Button on this car?”
Now, forty some years later, I often have the extreme honor of driving my parents around in the hermetically sealed close quarters of a car. In South Florida. On the highway. In the blinding rain. Without Xanax. And so this is where I found myself last week as we set off for a three hour drive. If you’re suddenly humming the theme song to Gilligan’s Island, you are tracking beautifully.
About 2 hours in, after hearing about the latest, greatest funerals and condo association woes in their Over 55 Active Lifesyle Community, the conversation turned to (some still living) former colleagues.
DAD: George just wrote saying our circle is shrinking—Herb Schwartz just died.
ME: Wait, isn’t he the guy in Colorado with the motorcycle? I thought he was younger than you.
Dad: No, that’s Herb Kolwasky; Herb Schwartz was at our 50th wedding anniversary luncheon.
DAD/MOM: (After 50 years they’re good at tag teaming stories.) Short guy. Goatee. Kinda balding.
ME: Oh, uh, did he sit with Eileen?
MOM: No, he sat with oh wait Jim? Was he sitting with Ernie Lombardi?
DAD: I don’t remember but his kids went to UA (my highschool in uber preppy, idyllic town). His daughter went to blah blah fabulous college majored in fabulous and respectable blah blah then got her graduate degree in blah blah and got this great job blah blah but found it wasn’t interesting so she then got this GREAT job as a personal chef for this rich family in Denver, blah blah wonderful. happy blah blah perfect daughter.
DAD: Then his son (dramatic pause) got his degree in “writing” (cue eye rolling from back seat) and got “some job” doing something but not “writing”….then he moved back to UA ( a major accomplishment as it’s a highly desireable place to live but suddenly sounds like skid row) and works for the city or something as a commissioner or something. (pause) He also does some odd jobs. You know, what do you call it when you kind of write something sometimes?”
DAD: Yeah. Freelance.
ME: (with genuine enthusiasm) “Good for him! That’s great!”
DAD: Yeah well it’s okay if you’re married to a woman with a REAL job.
ME: Because we all know writing is not a real job.
DAD/MOM: Right, exactly, er, well, it can be…
ME: (under my breath) Where the hell is the Eject Button…?
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