Here's where YOU get to share your Generation X experiences, anecdotes, wild tales, and memories. Every month, The Zen of Gen X will present a topic or question. You KNOW you have stories that people NEED to hear.
The current topic is AFTER-SCHOOL SNACKS. Tell everyone all about the food you made yourself after a long day at school. A bowl of powdered Kool Aid? Microwaved bacon and Doritos? Frozen Twinkies? A glass of corn syrup? We latchkey Gen X'ers knew how to concoct some of the century's finest cavity-inducing, pancreas-destroying refreshments. No better way to watch Little House and Star Trek, right? Feel free to use a pseudonym like Farmer Ted or Tiffany if your report is particularly incriminating. Mail your outrageousness to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Collected blurbs will be published here monthly.
My parents did not have children until (accidentally) they were 30. They thought it was perfect that their dog, named Booger, stayed on the car floorboard, so that if they had to stop fast, and I (an infant) flew out of the backseat, I would land on him. 1970’s airbag. Those vinyl seats in a 1971 Pontiac were sort of slippery. They also thought it was completely normal to have two kids and three dogs in the bed of a pickup. On the highway.
When I was younger my parents had a big boat of a station wagon. Who didn't really? We would lay down across the back for any nighttime driving or long road trip. If I was the lucky one, I would be able to lay across my parents' laps on the front seat. The most life-threatening instances in this car usually occurred when we were on our way home from the Ridin' High Dude Ranch in the Adirondacks. Our cabin was probably ten, long, winding miles from the old Ridin' High, and at least once a summer my parents would load me, my older sister, and my younger brother into the wagon and head up to the Dude Ranch. There we would meet up with other families for a rootin’-tootin' good time of country music, petting zoos, and plenty of alcoholic beverages for the adults. Then we would all pile back into the station wagon (usually with at least two or three of us fighting) and my dad would decide that it was funny to piss off my mom by turning off the headlights and driving fast down the narrow, winding, mountain roads. My mom would be screaming, and we kids would roll around in the back getting smacked into each other. At least one of those trips ended in me getting a bloody lip from a sibling's head. But, by the hand of God, we always pulled into our property, a little dazed and dizzy, but somehow safe.
When my brother and I were little, we lived on a farm in England and my mother had one of those old green Land Rovers with a spare wheel on the hood.
At the ages of 7 and 5 (or possibly younger) she would let us sit inside the wheel on the hood while she drove really fast through the bumpy fields and we held on for dear life and laughed and laughed! SERIOUSLY! I think that may call for prison time in this day and age.
She also had one of those big Mercedes wagons, and my brother and I would sit in the back with no seat belts (I don't think the car had any seat belts). She would drive to the canal where there were two, consecutive, short (but high!) bridges, lovingly know in our family as the "wheee-boinks". Once there, she'd put her foot down and fly over the bridges so we would be catapulted up and hit our heads hard on the roof of the car!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of our crazy upbringing. Needless to say, our mother never was the nurturing type but she always had a wicked sense of humor.
Our babysitter drove an old Volkswagen Beetle. My little brother was about four at the time. He used to rock his body forward and bang his back and head agains his crib to fall asleep (this is before we knew to medically investigate such behavior). But he liked to do this “banging” in the back seat of the babysitter’s Bug. And when he did it, the whole car rocked backward—WHILE WE WERE DRIVING. All around town we went in the little green Bug, afew yards forward, a little jump back.
Once in high school, we had about ten people in a five-seater car. We were on our way from Mamou, Louisiana, back to our hometown during Mardi Gras and we were all drunk—including our driver. We got pulled over and all started sucking pennies. (I’m still not sure this wasn’t just an old wives' tale, but I’ve sucked a lot of pennies in my day, just in case.) Amazingly, since we were only a couple of miles from home, the cop let us go with a warning.
Once in high school there was a very bad thunderstorm during the school day. We were all called into the auditorium and told that we would remain at school because it was safer than dismissing us during the storm. Except for me and my younger sister. We were allowed to leave because our mother had called the school and said that if we didn’t make it home within an hour, the ditches on the sides of our farm driveway would flood and we wouldn’t be able to make it at all. So, off we went. I made my younger, less-experienced sister do the driving. And we knew nothing of the suggestion that you should drive slower on slick highways. So as we rounded a big curve at 60mph, we started hydroplaning and she started screaming. I knew enough to tell her to let it slide and into the median (ditch) we went. She was hysterical and the first car to pull over and offer assistance was the local news crew, which made her even more hysterical. I felt a little better as I looked behind us and watched three more cars do the exact same thing that we did. The news team called the cops for us and the cop that showed up was a family friend. He told us that he had just been at my dad’s office because my mom’s car had been broken into in the parking lot. Cue even more hysteria from my sister. Car had to be towed out of the ditch, but was unharmed. Whew.
When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, all the adults took go-cups of cocktails with them whenever they drove. There were always styrofoam cups filled with scotch or bourbon teetering on the front console by the gear shift or being held between grown ups’ knees.
One time, my friend’s dad drove my friend and me to the beach. We hung out in the back of the Bronco for the entire trip, playing Gin Rummy on a big beach towel and not wearing seat belts. We were also bartenders for that trip: in charge of MAKING HIS DRINKS WHILE HE DROVE. About every hour, he’d hand us his styrofoam cup and we’d fill it up with vodka and ice. The trip was about ten hours.
We were 11.