Thursday, April 01, 2010

Warm breezy days

Eighty-some degrees here today and breezy. Put the top down for a trip to the grocery store, turned the country station up loud, and remembered...

I remember being a child and riding with my dad in the front seat of the old station wagon with the windows down, arm resting on the top of the door with my elbow sticking out, even though I had to reach up there to do it, because that was how he did it. Sometimes I'd stick my arm straight out and let my hand act as a wing, turning it up and down in the slipstream, as though I were an airplane.

I remember being a teenager driving that same old station wagon with the window down and my arm hanging out as I cruised the back roads around home with one hand on the wheel.

I remember being a small child playing with the wing window in another of the old wagons. Whatever happened to wing windows, anyway? My Miatas have them but they're fixed - not that it really matters in a convertible, but still.

I remember sitting in stop-and-go - but mostly stop - traffic on the DC Beltway in my old Thunderbird with the window down because the air conditioner didn't work, sweltering in the 95-degree heat with 95 percent humidity and praying for traffic to move so I could get some breeze, even if it was going to be hot, sticking my hand out to scoop air into the car when traffic did move, sucking down water and tossing the empty bottles onto the floor.

I remember rolling down Braddock Road on my way to one of the county parks, dressed in my umpire's uniform, the window down and a tape playing Alabama's "Cheap Seats" as I psyched myself up for another night of softball.

I remember the way my left arm would be darker than my right arm by the end of the summer because of all the time spent driving with that arm hanging out the window in a car without working a/c.

I remember the sound of plastic grocery bags rustling in the breeze in the back seat.

I remember the summer the cicadas came out in Washington, the alien roar of their wings and their song, and the one that flew into my car at speed and smacked into the back window, but didn't die, and kept buzzing around back there, neither of us able to escape the other's terrifying presence. I do not like buzzing insects. After it was gone I put the window up, preferring the heat to the bugs.

I remember rolling along a thousand roads on a thousand days with the windows down or the top down, the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and country music on the radio. Country roads, busy city streets, quiet residential neighborhoods. It is past, it is present, it is future. It is spring in Omaha.


Blogger Anon_e_mouse said...

Wind wings? They're gone with the wind, I'm afraid... (insert groan here). All the major manufacturers eliminated them as a styling element in the late '60s / early '70s, as air conditioning became more predominant in cars. Many in the industry thought that their presence deterred people from buying air conditioning; if the wing wasn't there to direct some cool air into the car (along with floor-level fresh air vents, which also disappeared from many cars at about the same time), then people would spend the money for A/C, adding to the manufacturer's profit (and the dealership's as well, when people brought the cars back in for service). GM officially viewed it as a styling issue, and it's true - cars without the vent windows did have a cleaner, crisper appearance. Wind wings were old fashioned. Of course, their demise overlapped the ascendency of the vinyl top, which Detroit also thought was a styling plus, and which enough Americans did for a time as well, to the point where many cars had to be special ordered if you didn't want one.

6:28 PM  

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