Stephanie (collacentaur) wrote,

  • Mood:

From potholes to potties: free association through my childhood

The people who drive behind me on my commute must think I'm drunk. I suddenly dart from side to side, most impressively when I veer left toward the center supporting post of the railroad bridge (and then sharply right again to go under). It's all to avoid the potholes. Like daffodils after a spring rain, more appear after each storm. This on the right, that near the center, here my side is clear but there's a big one on the other side so I should watch the oncoming traffic. This year there are more than usual, because the weather has been so bad. Like the snow banks, the profusion of potholes is much more like winters I remember from growing up in Massachusetts. I can certainly see why so many hubcaps fell off.

I'm not sure what hubcaps are for, or why they fell off so often when I was young but stay put today. Come to think of it, I'm not entirely certain whether or not wheels still have hubcaps. Cars are really not my thing. I just know that when I was little, the roadside was speckled with shiny metal discs. My mom used to lose a hubcap at least once a season, more in the winter. Sometimes she'd go back on her own, but more often she'd load me and my brother into the car to go out looking. We would always start at whatever point she thought she had hit a pothole, but if it wasn't there, we checked out any hubcaps along the entire route. Sometimes, if she couldn't find hers, she would pick up a different one that was the correct size for her car. At least once, when two of hers had gone missing, she collected a full matched set from the roads and replaced them all.

It can't possibly have gone like that, of course, but that's how I remember it.

We couldn't look for hubcaps at night, so we played other games. We used to watch for pediddles. It's funny, I'm all the time talking about things that I thought were perfectly ordinary and it turns out to be just my family. Pediddles I always assumed were one of our quirks, and instead it turns out to be a game that's been played across the country since at least the 1950s. A pediddle (or padiddle) is a car with one headlight out. A pedaddle is a car with one taillight out. We only counted them, but apparently the game as usually played involves kissing or removing clothing or other racy things no one would have mentioned to a child.

I got it into my head at some point that there were more passenger-side pediddles than driver-side. My parents disagreed. I insisted that we track it long enough to get a large enough sample size (although I probably didn't phrase it like that) and it turned out that I was right, by a substantial margin as I recall. I had absorbed the concept of collecting large amounts of data before drawing conclusions at a very young age. I can't have been too far past potty-training when I taped a list to the bathroom door and insisted everyone initial after every visit, listing whether it was #1 or #2, and I think some other question as well. I have no idea what I was trying to find out, although I know there was a definite purpose, and my parents aren't sure if I ever told them. Regardless, I met with so much resistance that I had to give up.

  • 250 Words on: The Brink of Maturity

    "I have new wineglasses," she said, "come over and try them with me. They're blue." She selected two CDs that always made her think of him, and set…

  • 250 Words on: The Smell of Spring

    The smell of fresh spring mornings brings me back to my hometown. Early in the morning, I would trudge down the street to the bus stop, and stand and…

  • 250 words on: Intimacy

    This has absolutely nothing to do with anything current in my life. It isn't necessarily about anyone in particular, although it is drawn from…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.