Since Dad had a pretty demanding job that took him out on the road to various construction sites all day long, it wasn't at all unusual for us to be heading north to some distant camp site in the dark on a Friday evening.
What was unusual this particular fall Friday evening was me sitting in the front passenger seat where I had nothing but windshield in front of me.
You see, us kids were pretty much permanently relegated to the back seat unless it was Mom taking us to a doctor's appointment or something like that. (Often something that took all the fun out of riding up front!!) And since there was three of us kids the fight for a window seat was perpetual and sometimes downright nasty with frequent foot stomping (But Dad! His foot was on my side!!) and the occasional elbow. At least until I finally figured out that the middle actually has a better view during a long trip through the west,.
Instead of a great view out whichever side window I might happen to be sitting next to, (assuming I won the window-seat fight.) along with the back of one of the parental unit's heads to the front and a crappy view out the far side of the car; by sitting in the middle I had a good view out either side window and a great view right through the middle of the windshield.
I'm not going to explore the implications of why it took me so long to figure that out, (Honest! I got to ride the long bus with all the other kids, never the short bus!) but once I did it was a win win for me. I got the better view, though I kept that a secret from my siblings lest we start a whole new I-want-that-seat war. And Mom thought I was just the best little kid and kept praising me for making the sacrifice and volunteering for the middle seat all the time. (Milking that one for all it was worth I would put on my best martyr face and keep the real reason to myself.)
But anyway, for some reason, this particular fall evening Mom traded spots with me which is how I came to be sitting up front next to Dad. It was pretty fun riding up there in the second most important seat in the car. In fact I was feeling pretty smug about this obvious indication of my superiority over my siblings.
But it was a feeling that didn't last. . .
Now high school football in Michigan is nothing like in Texas where they broadcast Friday night games live on TV, but in certain circles it was still a big deal and as we headed north we passed a football field over on the west side of the freeway. It was mid-game, the field all lit up and the stands full.
By some evil twist of fate (You'll understand the evil in a second.) just as we went by, the ball was snapped, the quarterback faded back, set himself, faked, and then launched a long pass. Now I didn't travel in those circles, the ones where sports in general and football in particular are big deals, but by the time the pass was thrown I was half out of my seat and leaning towards Dad as I tracked the action out the other side of the car.
When that ball went into the air I could see the play unfolding in front of me. "look out, Look Out, LOOK OUT!" I shouted as the ball arched down towards the intended receiver far down the field.
I never did see if that pass was completed. You see, I was the only one in the car paying attention to the game, consequently shouting 'look out' into my dad's ear had him pretty freaked out; convinced that we were about to be in a massive wreck.
Now if you're not a man you might not know this, but when we are scared, especially with an audience there to see our less than manly reaction, the next thing we do is get mad.
I didn't immediately get thrown out of the front seat, after all we were going pretty fast (In those days speed limits were not one of Dad's strong suits.) but I sure wished I was sitting somewhere else! I'd have even settled for sitting all by myself back in the trailer at that point!
As it was, I think the next time I was allowed in the front seat
is when I was actually driving, years later. . .