Today is Father's day. You probably know this unless you live in a small hole in the arctic with a troupe of dancing polar bears. If you do a) I'm sorry and b) today is Father's day! My Dad is insane. I love him, and I inherited every one of his insanity genes. My Dad appears to be a charming normal man on the outside. But soon one learns he is far from normal. Believe me,it did not take me my 15 years to realize he not your average joe (and also he is not named joe,go figure).As today is Father's day which you may know by now, I of course, must tell a story about him...sort of. This story involves killer squirrels,midgets,hippies and black smoke. No,I am not exaggerating by one bit.
One day my dad brought home a 1969 VW Bus, without warning. Apparently he had been starring at the bus for a while and his friend had decided to sell it. Lo and behold suddenly he told my mom he bought a VW bus. The bus which I call the "Twinkie",which sadly never caught on with anyone else, is pretty much the emblem of all hippiness.And it was made the same year my dad was born,bringing in an apparently irresistible sentimental factor to my Father. And of course because my father was suddenly the proud owner of such a strangely endearing vehicle he opted for a family roadtrip in it.
My mother bought crazy plush pillows and decided the car needed curtains. My dear neighbors got so excited they sewed crazy polka dotted curtains for us and made us bags and pillows from the extra material. One of their sons even drew pictures of the van and hung them inside it. We even put a green shag carpet on the bottom of the van and hung a miniature disco ball.We were set.
Time to go surfing!
Of course, the rack was not attached to the top of the bus, so suddenly I was squished in the back of the van with 2 surfboards. Turns out there was only 2 seat belts,and 3 children. My brothers were squished against each other,sharing a very small seat belt.They almost killed each other several times. I love how legal this trip was. The van smokes. Like any old car, it guzzles gas and exhales them in little black clouds. So squished against my sweaty younger siblings, I found I also had a horrible headache. Every where we went people flashed us peace signs,waved and honked.If you want to know what it feels like to run a circus,drive the bus.
Every time we got out of the bus,(that is stumbled over bags and bags of camping gear)into civilization,we got the strangest looks.Now that was not a surprise,but soon I realized the extent of how strange we looked. We were all plastered with sweat, from driving for hours on end with no air conditioning,getting out of a car filled to the brim with enough bags to assume we lived in there. Great,now we appear to be homeless hippies as well! We also seemed to collect a lot of books that trip. At least we were SMART homeless hippies! We stopped at a hotel once on the way to the campsite, we were traveling to. I ate pickled tongue at a restaurant. MISTAKE. I was feeling adventurous. The black fumes from that bus were most definitely playing with my head.
Finally we arrived at the campsite. It was about to rain,of course. After frantically setting up the tent,it was found the tent,was very small. Too small. It said six people,right? Yes,yes. THE PACKAGE WAS A TOTAL LIE.All that tent could fit was six flippin' midgets. I am still bitter about this. So I spent every 5 nights of this trip, literally squished up against my sweating brothers. It gets worse. The weather was absolutely,horribly hot. My father told my brothers that once they got in their sleeping bags they should sleep in their "birthday suits". So I was squished up against my dear little brothers with that disturbing knowledge. And my father,despite all his denial,snores.
We attempted to learn to surf. So there is a culture with surfing.Part of this culture is the guys do not wear anything under their wetsuits. Which is perfectly understandable, it is not like anyone knows and it is more comfortable then wearing baggy shorts under a skin tight wet suit. Some older guys do wear little speedos though and like to strip out of their wet suits on the beach and then walk around in their speedos. Not_pleasant. My father told my mother and I,the girls also do not wear anything under their wetsuits as well. He didn't know better. Well, yes they do, yes they do. And being a naive little child I just listened. NEVER AGAIN. Not_comfortable...for reasons.
I didn't learn to surf. BUT I STOOD UP ONCE. I know,not impressive.
I had been told that there was no showers at the campsite.Thankfully,there was! A quarter for every two minutes.We had a running joke about "splurge showers." I would take the longest showers I possibly could without feeling guilty about the water conservation signs.However, I ran out of clean laundry very quickly.I ended up wearing my brother's very unattractive, short pajamas at night. Turns out wearing silk pajamas when it is over 70 degrees each night is undesirable. One day walking to the showers in my newly acquired pj's covered in racing flags and bears I totally triped, flat out. I fell and barely caught myself from completely scraping my face. Turned out I fell right in front of some very cute boys. I don't usually blush,but my face must have resembled a tomato at that moment.
There were squirrels all around the campsite. These big aggressive angry squirrels. Once we threw a watermelon rind to one of them,and it devoured the ENTIRE THING. It was literally gone.I really wanted eggs one morning. My father,who is not a morning person,agreed to make them. He cracked the eggs into the pan,and left the pan smoking on the fire. Then for whatever reason decide to let the eggs "smoke cook" and went back to bed..for oh,just a few minutes. Unsure of my father's actions I walked away from the eggs. When I came back,I witnessed a squirrel jump up on the fire-pit,grab the pan and flip it onto the ground!! Screaming,I went to save my precious eggs. But it was too late,my eggs were all over the ground, with a triumphant squirrel eating them. In anger,I screamed at the squirrel and chased it away. Thinking back,I should have just let the squirrel eat its eggs. Stupid smart squirrel.
The bus has a Hawaiian dancer on it's dashboard. But not your typical curvy girl in a grass skirt. Meet Bradda' Ed. We found Bradda' Ed at surf shop. He is an overweight man holding a small ukelele with a grass shirt on and large flowered panties (they are not boxers).He is the guardian of the bus and he is very loved. The bus is not meant to drive on ground that is not flat.But this story is not one that does what it is supposed to do. My father drove that bus over the Grapvine. As the name suggests, the grapvine is a generally insane road for miles, that is VERY busy and insanely steep and windy. We were being passed by truck drivers! The bus even died completely once. Bradda' Ed was bouncing up at down so hard at one point half of his body flew off into my mother's lap. (Thank you crazy glue!) Since then, Bradda' Ed has become famous for his famous moves in which half of his body flies off of him,in the most inopportune moments. I love that crazy Hawaii dude!
The trip was insane.None of us really learned to surf,but I'm trying again this summer.The bus is covered in stickers from our stops. My favorite reads "My child was an outstanding student at Pedro's tacos" Your kid was an outstanding student at school? Well,ha! I was an outstanding student at the Pedro's tacos! World's best tacos,man! At the mystery spot my brother attempted to get me to eat a cheddar and bacone flavored grasshopper. That alone about sums about the trip. Being a hippy for week was exciting and I am NEVER doing it again. EVER. Unless I get a seat big enough for me and a blow up matress..and no killer squirrels.On the way back we went to Disney land for a day and I looked at all the smiling faces. All these nice clean,smiling people and it was like a culture shock.
The Bus continues to live peacefully and since then has not been used for any horrific trips of the like. Today my dad put it up for sale.It's had a good run and now it has been realized that the dear thing can barely drive over a hill and is not a day to day vehicle by any means. Lately,it just sits. I can't say I won't miss it..though I can't say I am sad about it either. It was never about the vehicle, but the magic my dad brought to it. He would talk to it when it was having trouble getting up a hill.
"COME ON GIRL..YOU CAN DO IT!"
He was the one who hung the little disco ball in it and found Bradda' Ed. He made it magical,even if I didn't always like the magic. On my bat mitzah,at midnighta bunch of my friends and I piled into it. We left all the doors open and my dad drove us around the town. We starred up at the stars and screamed when my Dad sped up. I laughed so hard I couldn't breath. And as I look back,I realize I probably won't miss it at all. Because what made it special was the magic. And the magic is my dad. And I'll never lose that magic.
|Maybe if I had these pants I would have been a happier hippy|