Every Sunday we’d do the drive to visit with grandma and grandpa, or so it felt.
Onto the Garden State Parkway, toward the Goethals Bridge, pass Staten Island, over the Verrazano Bridge, merging onto the Belt Parkway, until finally, making it to Ocean Parkway. All while the three of us squished in the back seat, legs touching (the worst possible punishment for siblings) listening to perhaps Z100 – which meant that day’s best music.
I generally enjoyed singing along with the radio on these long trips but would get jabbed in my cushy side by his royal bony elbow almost every time for singing the wrong words. Which I thought was quite creative, and still do from time to time because it’s fun to make up words. Like flibbitybop and jibberbabble which I tend to use, most times not in the same sentence. But then there was a new rule made up. I was not allowed to sing along with any song if I did not know ALL the words to that song. A bit unfair since that meant I’d never sing again on any car trip, ever.
It was then that I began to sing in my head. Of course, continuing to make up words for the ones I couldn’t figure out,
Paradise By the Dashboard Light:
“I remember every little thing
As if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl
Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school
They were wishing they were me that night”
so far so good. Until…
So our bodies are cold and I’m wearing tights
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re blowing like a petal on the edge of it’s life
pretty sure this is where I’d get punched if I was singing it out loud!
There were many other made up lyrics because it really took a long time to record a song to a tape from the radio of my super-fly boombox with pastel stickers to indicate the PLAY, PAUSE, FWD, RWD buttons. It was: play, pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind (repeat 20x). After 3 or 4 songs, lots of pausing, I gave up and knew I’d never get ALL the words ALL the time, even though I took strength from MC Hammer:
“either work hard
Or you might as well quit
That’s word because you know
U can’t touch this (oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh) (x2)
Break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh) (x4)
Stop Hammer time”
so I listened. And I broke it down. It took me 3 weeks and a warped tape but I speak the truth when I say, I learned all the words to the most famous song. American Pie. And I learned a real lesson. Never travel by plane if I ever got famous. Oh, and of course,
“I still remember how that music used to make me smile”
After my first, 3 hour business class tonight, I was reminded of a really important word. Endurance. If you really want to achieve greatness you must give it 100%. I had a marketing teacher in college that told us on the first day of class how he’d give us the answer to becoming a millionaire by the end of the class, clearly we all took notes diligently. He said the same thing. There will be obstacles in your way but through determination and a genuine desire if you really wanted that one thing, you could have it. I really wanted to sing in the car, on the long drive to Brooklyn, loudly. Week after week I’d wait for the song to come on. Until one day, when we were listening to WPLJ, the best of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today.
Man, did that royal bony elbow get me good that day but it was worth it. That song lasted 8 minutes and 50 seconds, which to me felt like eternity. It was bliss. I was happy. Bruised, but happy. While for the most part little sisters will never be stronger than their older brothers that day I felt like a million dollars.
To this day, if I feel like there is a mountain of laundry I can not climb, a pile of dishes, a marathon of running around, spend all day playing the role of chauffeur, I go back to that mustard colored Cutlass Sierra, naturally with the vinyl seats.
Find your moment, hold on to it, refer back to it. One day you’ll have “Sunday Drives To Brooklyn” with the sounds of “He just TOUCHED me!!!!”, coming from the back of the car and you’ll repeat, as you take deep healthy breaths, I think I can I think I can, and you will.