Cousins in Cars
It was forever ago…roughly the 1800’s. Ok not that far back….think the polyester years, I’ll guess 1976. Around the time the song "Like a Rhinestone Cowboy" was popular and we all sung only one line of the chorus because the oldest cousin among us was 8.
I was a small child, a willful child, an obnoxious brat who’s lucky to have survived. We played dangerous games; we respected cars and trucks as both toys, and potential death traps. In the south when you are related to everyone (everyone in the south is related to everyone by marriage at least) there is no end to complicated lives. Cousins pretend to be married because we are all cousins and that’s just how we roll. Unless we lead truly complicated lives we don’t actually date or marry our cousins. This is another cousin tale because currently I am coming up dry on complicated lives. I may take a complicated break. I digress…
We played in junked cars as a rule. We got to drive cars on our intoxicated relatives laps as young as 5. We got to drive on sober relatives laps as young as 3 but we never held the wheel on our own. We got to drive tractors as young as 5 also. We all learned to drive early because we never knew when we might need to make the family beer and cigarette run, or drive home an intoxicated relative. This was a time before Happy Meals so we couldn’t break for the nearest McD’s for chicken nuggets…heck those hadn’t even been invented yet!!
While playing in junked cars we found LOADS of good stuff!! Old Tylenol and Anacin in the glove boxes, maps, pens, old Certs and other forms of candy, those funny pills that sometimes Mommy takes so we don’t have more cousins, those nifty balloons that come in individual packages and make those long things with the pokey tip on the end (yeah condoms) Old stuffed animals in the trunk, sometimes clothes if Auntie has been really mad at Uncle and is making him sleep in the ‘old tore up Mustang out by the shed’. We found any number of strange things in cars…sometimes even old food!! Bonus!! In the 1970’s there were no expiration dates. Darwinism was in full effect…and “Always sniff it first!” kept many of us alive. If we were unsure of the sniff test we gave some to our cousin, but not the youngest nor the oldest…one of the middle ones.
- 1.) If they were fine it was perfect to eat
- 2.) If they got a little sick…then it was probably ok
- 3.) If they threw up then you should dare each other to eat some
- 4.) If they ate it, vomited explosively and writhed on the ground you should only get the cousin you hate to eat some
- 5.) ……if they ate it and died it was REALLY bad and you should bury it in the garbage pit
After we had thoroughly inspected the cars for livability, snakes, spiders, critters, weapons and hazards then and only then, did we pretend to drive them. We made noises for the engine, and they were always loud. There were usually at least 2 junked cars per yard, if not we just played road trip or racetrack…the older or cooler cousins got the better car, the younger or annoying cousins got the crappier car. The favored games for at least 2 car yards were cops and drunks or cops and robbers, sometimes car crash was good for a laugh. We’d often throw things to emulate the bullets that the cops always fired at the bad guys…there were always bad guys!! The bad guys always got caught after a bloody shootout. One cousin always had to be taken to the pretend hospital…someone always ended up bloody for real but we just wiped the blood on the rotted upholstery unless it was vinyl, then we wiped it on the spongy seat material poking through one of the many splits. Alternately we used part of the headliner. After the emergency was taken care of we would play another game…then lunch time.
Lunch was usually bologna and cheese with miracle whip on white bread cut in qarters with kool-aid and sometimes chips. We would go back out to play in the yard…now it was time for a new set of games. During the after lunch game the “tittie baby” normally the youngest cousin would go inside whining, crying and tattling on the cousin it hated the most at that time. That rotten tittie baby took a nap while the tattled on cousin got spanked, then we all resumed our games but we played “big kid’ games then…love triangle and domestic violence were usually the themes in these games. The miscreant would ‘drink and drive’ he would kill one cousin, another had to avenge the death and so on…then it was time for dinner and hopefully a marshmallow fight after the fish fry.
Ah good times!! Man I wish I was 6 again!!