Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dashboard Coffee Table Lessons

When taking trips with my dad, you could always count on one hand the amount of conversation he offered. He had to of dreaded trips with me, you could not pay me to stop blerting what ever came to mind. Look at that tree, it reminds of last week when Debbie and I.... and then we..... and then the next day...." My poor dad. He was very patient. This could be why he always had lots of snacks for even a trip of a few hours, the one I am referring to was four hours.

I never gave a single thought to the fact that our dashboard held everything we took with us, besides a cooler or other equipment. We were usually in a truck and everything was at arms reach. We had easy access to snacks, drinks and a place to put important mail that needed tending at some point. This particular trip is when it was burned into my brain, not one piece of paper, not even a recipt from a drive through, will ever be on my dashboard.

Dad loved to snack on fresh shelled roasted peanuts so at times, peanut shells would find their way into the defrost vents, eventually to be cleaned out during the first frost as warm air clearned the windshield and peanut husks.

Now because there were so many uses for the dashboard coffee table and we typically hit some dirt roads on trips, there was always a layer of grit on the mail, papers, and under our cups. The dashboard would actually have to be clear of clutter to clean the grit, so it built up and we just shook it off. When we had soda with our peanuts, like all good Southern folks do, we used the dashboard to hold the cups. I can still recall the sounds, like sand paper as we picked up and replaced our cups, tossing shells out the window if going slow enough or on the dashboard if we could pick up speed.

Dad and I liked different types of sodas and on the rare occation he would stop at a gas station, all the cups were the same, no matter what went into them. He didn't care for the fizz I got from a coke and I liked mine without ice, more fizz foam. I loved the feel of the sweet tepid foam that would make my cheeks swell. It was easy to tell which drink was mine, not cold, no ice rattle.

Since he was somewhat organized for having a coffee table on his dashboard, we would line up cups. Oh, did I tell you he chewed tobacco?

When we traveled he would use an empty tin can that could fit nicely against the windshield. If he forgot his empty can on trips, he would use an empty coke cup that had been neatly stored on the dashboard, for when he forgot his tin can. Back then, all the cups looked the same. No fancy advertizing of the latest Vampire movie, it was just a simple bright red paper cup with a Coke logo.

It was what happened on that trip that made it the last time I used the dashboard coffee table. A dashboard can serve as a snack and mail holding area but it is not the best place to put drinks and a used tobacco spitune disguised as a coke.

He has passed away so I can't go back and ask him if he switched the cups on purpose because I was bugging him, as a joke, or was it really an accident when I took a mouthful of his used tobacco out of the cup that was tepid and did not rattle with ice sounds?

My dad did not have a mean bone in his body, he would not have done this to hurt me in any way but he did have a sense of humor and his own way to make a point, even when one did not realize a point needed to be made.

Daddy loved me, no doubt. I gave him grief through out his life, no doubt. What I do doubt is that this big swallow was an accident. Maybe he knew I needed a dose of humility and it was his way to guide me? I will never know.

I do know it made an impression on many levels since it is still so vivid in my mind and other senses of my body, hince the gag reflex when I recall this night so many decades later.

Hill people parent their kids just as well as city folks with PhD's. They may have different methods that had been passed from generations past. If nothing else, one lesson from that experience has been stable in my life since that day, nothing is allowed on my dashboard! It is not a coffee table to be used for drinks, snacks or a holding area for books or unsorted mail. In my car, I have cup holders for my drinks that usually look much different from any others in the car and no smoking, or chewing tobacco, in my car. Ss for mail, snacks, or books? I have floorboards, which I put to good use!

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