Where it all began…
Imagine, if you will, a happy family on a road trip vacation in scenic northern New Mexico. Dad driving a nearly brand-new, German engineered ‘bahn-burner, mom enjoying the scenery out the window, and young son in the back seat enjoying the afterglow of a delicious waffle breakfast.
The car was a 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, Alpine White over baby blue vinyl. That upholstery choice – if it was even a choice – will become important shortly. It had been in the family approximately four weeks at this point, its break-in period consisting of dad’s commute from the suburbs to his office in downtown Denver.
The road was a typical mountain road following a pristine river, on the way to various small, scenic mountain towns, ski areas and other attractions. Seven years earlier, mom and dad had honeymooned in one of those scenic towns.
The young boy had been in the family approximately four years and was outfitted in the typical garb of the day: corduroy pants and a ringer t-shirt. That young boy was, of course, me. I was content in the back seat with a belly full of strawberry and whipped cream waffles, enjoying the view of a rushing river out the rear passenger window.
At this point, I’m guessing dad was enjoying taking the German-engineered Rabbit up this mountain road and testing out sublime handling of the little car, while my mom studiously avoided looking at the speedometer (don’t let me paint a picture of some sort of mad road race here – it’s still a Rabbit, after all).
So many curves. Such a nice day.
So many curves. So much breakfast.
So many curves.
You may guess what happened in the back seat next.
Consider it a baptism by Denny’s.
One moment, dad was enjoying the Rabbit’s razor-sharp steering on a twisting mountain road. The next, appreciating the practical nature of the vinyl interior. I’m helpful that way. Mom had sprung into action, using river water and a stack of napkins from the Pan Am flight bag left in the hatch for just such contingencies.
The Rabbit stayed in the family for the better part of a decade, finally being sold to a Lee’s Summit, Missouri high school student in 1989. In the week after that, I assume that one of two things happened: (1) it was driven in to a ditch, or: (2) it was fitted with a ridiculously-oversized subwoofer box then driven in to a ditch.
It had served our family well, taking a number of cross-country trips and countless traffic-jammed commutes, it was replaced by a non-hatchback vehicle that shall never be discussed on this blog.