The “Sports Car”

Now that my mini-van transmission is a distant memory I am forced to drive my Japanese sports car. My Japanese sports car is what I call my Toyota Corolla. It’s a sports car because sometimes when I’m driving alone I listen to a radio channel that plays sports. I’m not a huge sports fan. I really only listen to the Packers. Maybe a couple of games a year – in my sports car. It’s also a sports car because at most it carries one child at a time. Sometimes I roll down my window and the tuft of hair that’s holding on as if my head were the Alamo, jumps and shouts as the wind attacks it. Then I roll up the window because the noise of the wind is harsh on the solitude of my monk like ears. 

The main thing about my sports car is that it’s just not used for the entire family. But with the mini-van self imploding like a 27-year-old rock star, the sports car became the top choice. So I drove to pick up the family where they had landed with the use of my sister-in-law’s car in Illinois (That’s another story). The sports car was bursting with luggage and humans. There is a back seat that can contain three people. In our family these three people happen to be 8 years old, 3.9 years old, and 1-year-old. The one year old, Iris, goes in the middle facing back and Hoyt and Lila sit on either side. Once we were all packed in and ready to leave we decided to get ice cream. Iris fell asleep immediately and the others opted to stay in the car and have their cones delivered (just before they are fanned with palms and fed peeled grapes). I delivered the cones and then stood outside and talked with the adults to say goodbye to those who had sojourned with us to the city limits to do battle with the foes, ice and cream. I went back to check on the kids and they were in the process of switching sides – over the top of sleeping Iris – with ice cream cones. The switch was almost complete – cones and feet barely grazing Iris’ sleeping head.

I say something like, “What do you think you’re doing?’ I hate saying things like that. I suspect that they are not thinking as much as some kind of animal kid instinct to do things that illicit “What do you think you’re doing” from taller people. They paused almost complete with the switch and I watched ice cream melt in slow motion down Hoyt’s hand. I watched Lila’s hair hanging in Iris’ face like a mid-evil torture device. “Ok, hurry up. Don’t hit Iris. Get in your seats.” Hoyt was confused as to why I would stop and start them. Lila looked at him as if to let him know that she’s 4 years older and she still doesn’t understand why I say what I say.

Now that the kids are in the correct seats, packed in as close as can be, let the noise begin. As we’re driving I realize how much I miss the mini-van. Years ago, before kids, I told a close friend to shoot me in the head if I ever buy a mini-van. Then I bought a mini-van. I have absolutely no qualms with switching allegiance to the mini-van. I am proud of my comfort level with being able to change opinions on a dime. Besides, my friend has a nice job as an attorney and I was convinced he wouldn’t throw it all away and shoot me in the head. Now, ten years later, I am missing the mini-van so much. With our Mazda MPV we don’t have the room of the “Swagger Wagon” Toyota Sienna, but our kids have small legs. The mini-van compartmentalized the children into their own separate quadrants, where they might be able to go to sleep when the others are not. In the sports car they are all right next to each other, where little fingers can ooze over make-believe borders. Little faces can leak into other little faces more easily. And, when one kid is awake, the other two are awake. Nothing can be hidden from the one year old and Cynthia and I can’t talk about any adult things without someone saying, “what did you say, what are you talking about, what did you say?”

Once we have the mini-van back, we’ll treat it with the utmost respect. We will begin anew. We’ll take all the old french fries and dried markers out of the back. The next time we take it to the car wash we’ll add the extra wash and even throw in the Rain-x. I will never threaten any kind of shooting when talking about mini-vans and no more of Hoyt packing mud around the back bumper to make it look like a Monster Truck. And once the mini-van is happy, my sports car will also be happy. Just me and the sports car (and maybe one kid) tooling around on a Sunday afternoon running an errand to Menard’s while listening to the Packers on the radio. If only the Italians could see me now, it might change their whole idea of “sports cars”.

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

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