I’d just turned fifteen and my father decided we’d take an August road trip. It was 1974 and we were driving the Pinto to go to see my father’s mother and family in Philadelphia.
Hormones running wild, I was very unhappy to leave my friends, pool jumping, delinquency.
Unbeknownst to my mother and I, dad made a bet with his seven siblings that he’d make it to Philly in under 5 days. We dint stop for food till Amarillo.
I was cramped in the back of that two-door Pinto sedan with a styrofoam ice chest as a companion. no air conditioning.
In the middle of the first night my Mother fell asleep driving through the desert. She crossed the double line, nearly driving head-on into a tractor trailer.
I was in the front seat for that light show and horns. Shocking. The noise woke Dad in the backseat. He took over. I was happy to be in the backseat. I stayed there for the rest of the trip, even after my first wet dream.
It was terrible. I had almost died several times before, I got over that but this, after never masturbating, it was awfully uncomfortable in every conceivable way. I went to sleep.
When I woke we were off the side of the Interstate; dad asleep on a concrete picnic table. Mother and I locked inside the Pinto.
We made St Louis by the next afternoon. We were staying the week with one of Dad’s WWII Sargent buddies, Tony.
Tony had a daughter. She was 17 or 18, a sizzling Sicilian beauty. I had no chance. She disappeared an hour after we arrived. Like a roach when the light goes on, if I caught a glimpse, she ran. Gone.
It all sucked until Tony and his wife started yelling. They were Italian. Funny. Loud. The whole block was Italian. “Diego Hill”. Loud. I swear I had pizza every night.
Down in his converted basement Tony had built a bar. He insisted I join in a few beers with him and my dad. Away from the women. Falstaffs. Man like. These were my first beers with my dad.
Tony looked like an ugly Humphrey Bogart. Real dog face G.I Joe. People did what he asked. My dad laughed. You know that “ahh fuck it! why didn’t I think of that? Wife will kill me” laughs.
Over a few Falstaffs I sat silently as they talked soldier talk. How the country was going to shit. Bad word. Really bad words. There were bad words flying like the Allies over Hamburg. Dad only said these while driving. I knew them.
Every day Tony and Dad would leave for a few with a bunch of Tonys at the VFW. I found Tony’s Playboy stash and tore out all the center folds, stole them. (One had Sybil Shepherd.)
Mother was always with his wife, Jeanne, while she cooked in the kitchen. She looked like Danny Devito. She was always cooking. We never left that house.
I listened to Yellow Brick Road over and over while tearing out centerfolds and watched the Cardinals on TV alone.
Yea rock and roll.