My parents split when I was 7 and it was tough. I don’t mean Kramer vs. Kramer tough, but tough nonetheless. There is a silver lining to divorce in that if done right, you get to spend more time with your parent (back then it was usually weekend Dads) than you would have if they stayed together. When they were married, he was mostly on “business trips” or had “important meetings” he had to attend every weekend. Once they were divorced, he had no choice but to take me on the weekends and spend time with me.
My sisters are both much older than me, so they did not have this lovely opportunity. Not to make him out to be a saint or anything…he was far from it. I do have lots of special memories. Although, his probably aren’t quite as crisp as mine, since he was pretty much drunk all the time. But, hey, drunk people are fun!
In 1983, Dad was forced into early retirement at the age of 49. Ronald Reagan was downsizing the federal government and as a high ranking IRS bullshitter, he got the ax. I was 9 years old and he decided a good, long summer vacation would be great for both of us. We took a whole month and drove his beat up VW Rabbit down the backroads of the east coast to see the biggest hustler in the world…Mickey Mouse. Now, I know you think I’m going to start talking about the magic of Disney- but I’m not. Because this post is about a broken window, idiot, hence the name.
It truly was a wonderful experience, we would only drive for 2 or 3 hours a day and then stop at luxurious hotels (ahem, motels) that had all the amenities a 9 year old could dream of… a pool, a vending machine, a bed with magic fingers- it was freaking awesome! We ate fast food, stayed up late and watched CABLE TV (it hadn’t come to our town yet). It was a great adventure that we were sharing, just the two of us.
Of all the special parts of this trip, including the fucking magic of Disney, there is one memory that will stand out in my mind FOREVER!! We stopped at a gas station in a podunk town outside Savannah. It was hot! The drippy, humid, steam rising from the highway kind of hot. My dad left me in the car (for you youngins, you used to be able to do that back then- or maybe he was just drunk) either way he went inside to pay. All the windows were up and the doors closed- because you know, who cares if your kid dies of heat stroke. He had more important things to worry about like getting a cold beer and some beef jerky for us.
Now, before I go any further, you need to know that there was a problem with the window on the passenger door. When you rolled it down (with a crank- no we were not rich and didn’t have fancy power windows), it would sometimes slip down in the door and you’d have to push it back up very carefully with your hands. So instead of getting that fixed, I was given strict orders to NEVER roll that window down.
As I sat there roasting in the 100 degree Southern heat, watching the Spanish moss sway in the breeze, I decided I could take it no longer. And I did it. I ROLLED DOWN THE WINDOW!!!! Just as I was taking a breath of fresh air and starting to regain consciousness, Dad came bounding out of the gas station yelling at the top of lungs, “I told you not to roll down the fucking window!! What the hell is wrong with you??”
Well of course, I thought he was a total lunatic and just rolled my eyes. “I was hot. What did you want me to do, open the door?” Then I started to roll up the window and it happened. The crash heard round the world. The whole window slid down into the door and smashed into a million pieces…and we hadn’t even made it to Mickey yet.
Well, of course, he was mad. This was my fault entirely. How dare I want to cool off? How dare I be so stupid as to not just open the door? How dare I break the fucking window??? So we stopped at a hard ware store and did the responsible thing, duct taped the whole window closed so that no rain could get in. Of course, he also couldn’t see out that window, but at least the beautiful vinyl interior would be protected.
A few weeks ago, my car was in the shop and I asked him if I could borrow his car for the day. Being the great dad he is, he gladly obliged. As I was getting into the driver’s seat, he lodged himself between the car and the open door and said, “Now, I have to tell you one thing about this window.” Oh for the love of GOD- not AGAIN!! He explained that sometimes it doesn’t always roll back up when you roll it down and kindly suggested that I not roll it down. Thanks, Dad. Believe me, I will NEVER and I mean NEVER roll down one of your windows again.