When I was a kid I overheard my dad say “They must have followed a snake when they made that road.” This was back in the days before seatbelt laws and most cars were the size of battleships and the upholstery was made of vinyl. Road trips through the Appalachian Mountains were like a day at the park. Complete with a roller coaster ride that did not include any form of restraint for the passengers. Seatbelts were available, but the cars were built like tanks and seatbelts were thought to be unnecessary for backseat passengers. What that leads to however was the game of Crush.
For most families on the road there was nice games for kids in the back seat. Games of counting license plates and “I Spy” or even singing show tunes. But those were games you play with parents and grown-ups. Crush was the “Secret Game”. The one you hoped mom wouldn’t catch onto. Here’s how it’s played. First, you volunteer to help dad clean up the car. If you’re lucky it will be a 70s model Cordoba Station wagon with vinyl seats that is slightly less wide than the car is long. After the papers are picked up from the floor and the crumbs swept away from the corners it time for the Armorall on the dashboard. This is to “protect the interior from sun damage”. In my young mind I had figured out that the secret to the magic behind Armorall was that it was so slick that the sunlight slipped right off of it and thus could not damage the vinyl surface. I made sure that the backseat was well protected. The side effect of course was that without seatbelts those rollercoaster curves made it impossible for kids to stay put. If you haven’t guessed by now this meant that the laws of physics would dictate that boys riding in the backseat would be pressed against the outside of the curve and whoever is closest to that door gets crushed. It’s important for the brother doing the crushing to occasionally observe his brother’s face during the crushing. A nice shade of red is okay. There’s bonus points if his eyes bug out a little bit if they come loose you’re going to have to explain why to mom and dad so it’s not really worth running up the score. Keep in mind that the next curve is going to swing the opposite direction so take a deep breath while you can. It’s your turn next. Eventually the game breaks down and it’s just two brothers hanging on for dear life as dad navigates through the twists and turns. The boys often wind up looking like cartoon tumbleweeds as they roll and slide around in the back. Usually the game ends when one or both parents have had enough and seatbelts are declared to be non-optional. Once that happens there is exactly 4 minutes and 59 seconds of peace and quiet because preteen boys can’t be still for 5 minutes. The next words spoken is probably going to be…”SLUG BUG! 😉
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