Saturday, May 17, 2008

A memory...

It was one of those hot summer Michigan nights. The kind where the air feels like a heavy hot blanket that you can't get out from under. The humidity was high. Flashes of heat lightning occassionally punctuated the darkness of my room. The drone of the fan was soothing, but it was just too hot to sleep.

It was the summer of 1980, and the Flint area was suffering the worst economy since the Great Depression. I didn't know any of this. I was an eight-year old towhead who's Dad had a job. Air conditioning was reserved for offices, stores, restaurants, but still a rare thing in homes.

I turned over in the dark, having long since shed the sticky sheet, and shut my eyes for the millionth time, trying to fall asleep. At least tomorrow, I could go out and play in the water...the birthright of any Michigan kid. Suddenly, the bedroom door swung open. Light spilled aross the ceiling, floor and wall before my eyes.

"Come on." My Dad's voice floated through the muggy air. "Where?" I asked.
"We're going for a drive."
I looked at the clock. It was 10 pm.
"Ok. Let me get my shoes."

I got in the back of the LeBaron, and we were off. It felt like an adventure. Being up late, riding in the car in my PJs, with the windows down on a hot summer night. We seemed to be driving around aimlessly. Finally we came to the Burger King near Richfield and Center. Dad turned into the drive thru. He ordered three milk shakes, and Mom leaned over and whispered something in his ear. He turned looked at me, smiled, looked to her, and order one of the Empire Strikes Back glasses for me as well.

We drove around for over an hour after getting the shakes, waiting for the temperature to drop a little. It was an unusual thing for my Dad, and for a few minutes, he made me feel like the coolest kid in the world.

I slept very well that night.