July/August 2022 Pinehurst Living Magazine

Page 32


Life Under Pines

Road Trip!

By Sundi McLaughlin


ummer has me feeling nostalgic forthose sweet few months of freedom between one grade and another where the wonder of life truly begins. My parents would pack the trunk of our compact Volkswagen, wedge a cooler where my feet were supposed to go and take to the road. (Bear in mind, I was basically 6-feet tall by second grade but I was the youngest and therefore the lowest ranking member of our household who had to suffer these minor indignities). My parents took my brother and me all over this great country during those summers. We would drive from Florida to Ohio, Idaho, Utah and Colorado to visit our family and friends. My brother Bob and I sat in the back seat and chalked an invisible boundary down the center seam of our seat and when one of us would inevitably cross said boundaries by even so much as pinky finger a backseat brawl would ensue. My father would whip his right arm back while driving, thrashing around reaching to swat one of us, reminiscent of a whipping octopus arm. Bob and I would contort our bodies to get away from the leviathan until the threat passed. (Dad would inevitably tire and return his tentacles to his 10-and-2 position on the wheel while verbally threatening our very survival if we


continued to act like feral cats.) In the days before air conditioning, my brother and I would lift our shirts so our sweaty backs would make wet slapping and sucking noises when expertly placed against the pleather seat back. We would eventually choreograph music with our sweaty backs, annoying our mother to no end, making us laugh even more. We would stop at rest areas and my mom would unpack soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the cooler which had gotten wet from the melting ice and serve us delicious off-brand root beer with a side of smashed-tosmithereens Lay’s potato chips. My dad would eventually lose his temper over missing an exit or a wrong turn and shout expletives the likes of which we had never heard. By the time we got to our destination sweaty, tired and miserable, my mom would usher a warning to us through gritted teeth, “Smile politely, eat whatever they put in front of you and be on your best behavior.” A lesson which, now that I’m thinking about it, has served me very well throughout the years. Later on, when we were older, my parents bought a big van with four (count them—four) captain chairs and a couch in

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