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Hear That? It Sounds Like Your Father's Music

"David, we're late," my mother is saying.

"I know, mom," I say. She's shoving cold weather clothes onto my body — hat, gloves, scarf — as if they're needed to bind me together. My sister leans on the wall, confined by her own winter restraints.

My mother puts her own coat on with the dexterity of a quick-change artist, then opens the door. The cold air hits us like a board.

"Into the car," she says. "Go."

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

Sitting in the front set, I look at the windshield. It's a sheet of ice. With three minutes to complete the ten minute drive to school, there is no time to clear it. So, with the defroster on full blast, my mother drives, peering through the expanding, shoebox-sized hole in the frost.

She turns on the radio. We hear "Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke. "Ugh," my mother says. "Your father's music."

My father listened to the "oldies" station. Sometimes he'd sing along, a smile widening on his face. "Someday," he'd tell us, "Someday, it'll happen. I'll take the car to the car wash, drive through, and when I come out on the other'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 we're facing the sun. The entire windshield shines a blinding yellow, as the ice intensifies the light. "I can't see," my mother says. We're driving blind.

She slows the car, about to stop. 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.

"Yeah," I say. The air is viciously cold and the sun shines into my eyes. "Just keep going straight ahead."

The collision throws me 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. The radio had started playing "Put Your Head On My Shoulder," and suddenly I was wishing for a magical car wash.

* * *

Last week, my wife and I took the kids to the playground. After spending three days cooped up in the house with out-of-town guests, the kids were crazy — screechy, whiney, running around like lunatics. Their bickering had reached an all-time high. We needed to get outdoors, and fast.

We strapped them into the Saturn and pulled out of the driveway. My wife turned on the radio, and a Van Halen song came blasting through the speakers.

"Jeeze, hon!" My wife shouted, turing 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," I told her, "Someday, Gracie, I'll go to the car wash..."


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