Most of the time, time runs slow; change is gradual. But not always. Sometimes change is Ai-yi-yi!, sudden as a heart attack, or so it seemed when I was 14.
At the Turn of the Year
Like many a 14-year-old I wasn’t big into Jesus.
It was 1967 and science rocketed toward the moon.
But I was still down with Christmas, driving south
with family to sleep on the floor with more family.
There was an insane amount of great food to eat,
a huge Sylvania console color TV to watch, a real
pool table downstairs and a bowling alley with
pinball machines across the street. Pretty sweet.
Once the giant turkey dwindled to soup bones and
all the relatives were seen (even the one who smelled
medicinal and called my sister “Firecracker”),
we headed back home through the Snow Belt.
My father’s eccentric taste in vehicles that year
landed us a German compact, a Borgward Isabella,
bought off a man who saw Dad coming a mile away.
It was a brave little thing, but not long for the world.
Big American cars wore twin ruts in the wet snow
that carpeted Route 81 a foot farther apart than
the Borgward’s tiny wheels. The drive wheel spun
down in one rut and the off wheel plowed slush.
Christmas music on the radio didn’t quell the terror
of that ride between cars upside down by the fence
and semis on their sides in the median. Ho. Ho. Ho.
Finally, the wheel bearings burned out from the abuse.
We limped into Watertown’s Public Square seeking
shelter in Hotel Woodruff until the garages opened.
We never stayed in hotels, so this was exciting.
Dad checked in, while we rubbernecked the lobby.
The hotel bar was having a big night, having hired
go-go dancers to enthusiastically Frug and Watusi
along to brain-melting acid rock: white boots,
mini-skirts, bare midriffs, long ponytails. Ai-yi-yi!
Who knew it would all change, just like that?
In the new year I got a girlfriend and put my money
into rock albums. I got a guitar, a Cossack shirt,
let my hair grow. Dad traded up for a used Corvair.
Note: unpublished draft