We were pulling into the gas station again. It was a hell of a way to manage a road trip. There was no way we were going to get there before the sun came up at this rate. Funeral or no funeral, this was going to take all night and then some.
"If Alice hadn't slammed the Datsun into a tree last week, we wouldn't have this problem."
Those were the days. Everyone had two cars, one for getting around town and one for taking long trips. The big car was for show, so people wouldn't think you were some kind of tinkerbell driving a little Japanese number around. Who could afford to take that old Chevelle around town or fill up that Ford Galaxie every time you wanted to drive to the liquor store?
Life is not as simple and clear cut as it appears to be in the manuals. You have to drive down to the park and stand around your big block ladykiller. You can't sit on the hood of of a four cylinder economy smart person vehicle and expect anyone to pay attention to you. It was once all about the wheels. These days it still sort of is, but not the way it used to be. Flashy lights and pretty colors weren't important. It was a case of how scary your engine was when you proudly propped up that hood and popped open a red, white and blue can of Budweiser. If you were going to go off and drink some sissy imported beer in a bottle, everyone would step away and wonder why you weren't down at the Christian Science Reading Room. Yes, the fancy people won out in the end. You'd never see so many people out in public drinking fancy beer, talking about science fiction and driving BMWs twenty-five years ago. That is the kind of thing they used to give you a wedgie for and throw you in a dumpster for in the old days.
"Hope we can make the coast on this tank of gas.
I kinda doubt it though.
You bring any cash?"
That was the other thing, you see. Cash. There weren't any ATMs, or debit cards, or six credit cards for every teenager. You had to keep cash on hand. That's why you still see old timers with hundreds of dollars in their wallet tempting the less than honest to mug them or pick their pockets. Today it is all about convenience. In those days it was all about being prepared. You could send a couple people down to the store to buy beer and sit all night by the lake talking about why disco sucks in those days. Now no one goes outside unless they want to get fined. The more the grip tightens, the more life slips from the hand.
"You need butts?
I'm going to get some chips over at Em's."
You didn't have 65 varieties of potato chips in those days, either. When you went to the corner convenience store you didn't have to spend twenty minutes trying to figure out which chips or which candy you wanted. You got potato chips and you didn't whine about ranch flavor or extra spicy or Texas super barbeque taste. You got your chips and hit the road. You didn't buy that crap in gas stations, either. You bought it at a food oriented store. They filled your tank and fixed your car at the gas station. There was a more rational order to things when it came to what gas stations were for. Food? You were lucky if the gas station had a vending machine.
Change is good, or so it says in the manual for life. Human existence evolves, for better or for worse, and sometimes in random and inexplicable directions. There is more acceptance of things outside the norm in more modern times. In those days you were either part of the in crowd or the out crowd. Tolerance is a good thing. In those days tolerance was a matter of letting it fly when someone beat you off the line at the stop light. We've come a long way, but do we really need 65 varieties of potato chips?
"Tuned her up just this weekend,
but she's still running a little rich."
Yeah, you fixed your own car in those days, it was a way of proving you were a man. These days people rarely even change their own oil. Too much of an inconvenience and we have better things to do, like writing about gas guzzlers. There were the guys who had manly cars and the creepy dudes who drove conversion vans and VW Buses. You could handle their creepiness most of the time, after all, they were the ones you got your grass from, and the ones who brought guitars to your parties. Everyone had a party, there was at least one every weekend. Down by the river or over at the house of whichever one of your pals had the good fortune of having their parents out of town for a few days. Now we hear strange tales about how parents sponsor parties for their teenagers and use scientific precision to determine the compentency and blood alcohol levels of all in attendance. Bah. These things are so banal. These things don't make much sense to the drifter who has been in a coma since 1978.
The gas guzzler was a rite of passage. There were your legendary "muscle cars" and then there were just big giant boat sized cars that sucked up your paycheck in gasoline and broke down regularly. These things were big and square and you could fit your entire calculus class in them. No one talked about head room and driving lights and intermittent wipers in those days. They talked about carburators and bondo an intake manifolds. Miles per gallon? Zero to sixty was far more important.
Of course, I was a sissy. I drove a Camaro and it actually got fairly good gas mileage for the time. I didn't want to get beat up, but I wasn't out of my mind. That came later.