The car your father drove

The bus. Dad drove a bus. No. It was not a real bus. It was not gray or yellow nor was it filled with rows of seating. Actually, it was a Dodge Van 350 but in the eyes of a small girl and her two older brothers, it was a bus. He used that van for his interior design business to deliver furniture and such things to clients, hence the lack of seating.

He drove it home most nights from work and when my parents did that good-marriage thing where they helped each other out with driving the kids around, my dad used his van. I’ll be honest, it was a tad embarrassing having my dad pick me up in the bus while the other kids were picked up in their moms’ sleek automatic side-door Chrysler Town & Countrys or better yet, a sedan. Any sedan.

However, I will say I have one very fond memory of the bus. It involves one of my brothers and Wednesday nights…

Like good little Jewish children, we attended Hebrew school twice a week: Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. While Mom usually drove us there, it was Dad who picked us up. My brother and I would climb (literally) into the seatless back. He was 10 and I was 8. As Dad drove out of the parking lot, I would immediately ask him what we were having for dinner and thus, the fun began.

For the first three of the ten most thrilling minutes of my week, my father would try to trick me and tell me we were having liver and onions for dinner or beets, just straight up beets for dinner. He got these ideas from his favorite cartoon, Doug. I knew the reference so I never fell for his tricks, but instead would giggle endlessly at his efforts. Finally, when I gave in or he would admit to not knowing what we were eating, I’d look over at my brother and his arms would be out of the sleeves of his sweatshirt. His knees were tucked into his chest and he was pulling the sweatshirt over himself to form a ball. Typical ten-year-old; however, as his younger sister, I found whatever he did to be awesome and would do my best to copy.

So once a week, my brother and I curled up into balls, laid down on the floor of the bus, closed our eyes, and allowed ourselves to be tossed and turned by the motions. When my dad caught on to what we were doing, he would purposely stop short or make the turns as sharp as possible causing us to absolutely fly across the back of the bus. Reader, I wish I could give you a comparison for the amount of fun this was but I’m afraid absolutely nothing would do it justice.

You see, there is a series of about three turns from the start of my neighborhood to my house and this we considered the grand finale. My brother and I would be hysterical over the anticipation of reaching our neighborhood. Three sharp turns in a row and then the jolt of parking in the driveway would leave my brother and I lying breathlessly in the back and very much ready for dinner…whatever it was we were eating.

My dad drove other cars, too. He had a sketchy white Dodge Caravan for a long time and now sports a classic Ford Mini Van. He also exchanged the bus for another van that is just begging to have the words ‘free candy’ spray painted on the side. All these vans have the sole purpose of delivering furniture; however, for me, they had an entirely different purpose. Being the kid who got picked up in big, clunky vans built character. These vans taught me how to deal with embarrassment and make the best of it. Reflecting on it now though, I realize that this sort of embarrassment, like a lot of the embarrassment us humans go through on a daily basis, is completely within ourselves. I’m sure no other kid who saw me get into that van gave it another thought. Nobody turned and whispered, “There goes Jodi getting into that ugly van. How embarrassing.” No. It was entirely in my own head like I’m sure is true about the majority of other embarrassing moments. I must remember that from now on.

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