Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Just a blurb
We had not one but two VW campers while I was growing up. The first one was that godawful 70's orange color. It had a back seat that pulled flat into a bed just big enough for two adults. It also had the pop up top that contained a foam pad where two kids could sleep. There was no bathroom, but it did have a little stove, small fridge and the front passenger seat turned around to face the back seat. It even had a hammock for toddlers to sleep in. There was a hole in the floor that allowed you to put up a small table where the family could eat. I loved it. It had no air conditioning and the windows had roll things to open, but I saw a lot of Texas in that van. My family and I would drive it down to Galveston and spend the night on the beach.
After we moved back to Columbus when I was a teenager, my dad bought another camper. This one was cream colored and HAD air-conditioning. Unfortunately my dad never opened the fridge before he bought it. We got it home and as I was exploring I opened the fridge door only to be hit by the worst stink ever. I can still smell it to this day. The previous owner had left some sort of raw meat in the fridge and forgotten about it. The fridge was crawling with maggots. We cleaned it out and bleached it, but we never could get the smell out.
The cream van held a lot of my teenage angst in it. My friends would come over and we would just sit in the van and talk for hours. I remember having long discussions with Chrysalis and our friend Pete about the movie "When Harry Met Sally" (it had just come out). Could a man and a woman just be friends? If I am not mistaken, although we were both just friends with Pete, we weren't just friends with Pete, if you get my drift. I know I at least fooled around with him in that van.
I only drove the van once. When I was 16 or 17 I flew back to Houston to visit Jenn. My dad had business in Houston but wanted a road trip so he drove up with the intention of me driving back with him. Only I was young and stupid. Jenn and I went to the beach that weekend in her Javelin (or did you have your Nissan by then?) For some idiotic reason I refused to wear sunscreen, even though we were out in the sun for 5 or 6 hours. I was SO sick. I never went to the ER although I probably should have. I had blisters upon blister, I shook for hours with chills and wished that I would die, all the while Jenn's mom was yelling at me about how my parents were going to be so mad at her that she let me get sun poisoning! I think she even told me I better not have sunstroke or she might kill me.
When my dad came to pick me up I thought he was going to kill me. We got on the road and started to head back to Ohio. Somewhere along I-40 you go through the mountains and the road is really windy and curvy-maybe Nashville? It was then my dad decided to punish me by making me drive. VW campers had giant steering wheels and the seats were this tweedy material. I was fairly new to driving so I had to manhandle the bus to keep it on the road. Every movement was a new experiment in pain. Trust me, I am the world's largest proponent for sunscreen now (and yes, I get a skin check every year!)
When I was in college my dad finally decided to get rid of the bus. I was so sad, but it had a lot of miles on it and was starting to cost us money. I asked around at school and my friend Mel said he wanted it. Mel was the greatest guy in the world. He had long blond hair, played all sorts of sports and was just a total surfer dude. He never met a person he didn't like and he just made you feel like you were the most important person in the world even if he was surrounded by people (which he always was!) I warned him the van was in bad shape but he didn't care. He brought his father and his French girlfriend over to our house with a $1,000 check and bought the van right then and there. My dad still talks about how his girlfriend said, "And I will make you crepes for breakfast every morning."
Mel took that van another 50,000 miles. He drove to Mexico that summer (deep into Mexico, not just the border), around through California and back to Ohio. The next year he drove it to Florida and parked it in a tow away zone. That was the end of the van. It got towed away and he never had the money to get it out. He and his girlfriend hitchhiked home and he was still getting bills and notices on it by the time I graduated college and left him behind forever. I hope they auctioned it off and someone else got to spend a few more years bumming around in it.