The Pacer

Once upon a time back in the 80’s my dad bought a Ford Pacer. It was orange and hideous but, he did only paid $300.00 for the beast. Actually, I did sotra like the car, mostly because I got to help dad work on it. At least I thought that’s what I was doing, I guess sitting the seat and turning the key when dad said wasn’t actually driving or working on it.

Then there came the Thanksgiving. I can remember going to my dad’s mom’s, or should I say ‘Mother Erma’s’ house a few times for Thanksgiving. Those usually involved a little tension because she was a very old school kinda lady & didn’t hold her tongue even if she was wrong. This particular year I was in 6th grade & we had no choice but to travel in the worlds ugliest car….not that mom’s wood paneled hornet with 1 blue door and 1 brown door was any better.

Dad’s pacer was fully equipped with gold fish clings on the windows because guys my dad worked with called the car a fish bowl and God forbid an 8 track. An 8 track is maybe not a bad thing for most people who wouldn’t even begin to know what to do with it but not my dad. On the way out the door to leave for our trip, he drags out his 8 track Slim Wittman collection from under the bed. Now, being in the 6th grade at the time and only being partial to music the involved long haired men in full makeup and screaming vocals I did not like the Slim Wittman. Actually, after all these years…..I think I still don’t like the Slim Wittman.

This particular year was also the first year my best friend was allowed to have a slumber party and of course I was invited, however I risked not making it because I was being drug to Georgia with my lame family to hang out with the rest of my lame family. Needless to say, I was not a very happy camper. I’m sorry, but when your 11 none of your family is cool and it seemed like my family went out their way to flaunt their un-coolness.

My little brother was also diagnosed as having hyperactivity back in the day. He was on ritalin and had to drink decaffinated coffee before school. Not sure why little kids would drink coffee before school but he did. To this day, I am the only person in my family who doesn’t drink coffee, including my 10 year old….but not before school. Anywho, mom didn’t feel it necessary to give him his medication on non school days. To remedy his lack of mobility while sitting in the car he would actually rock back and forth like he was sitting in a rocking chair. I would get in trouble for yelling at him to stop this all the time and was told to shut up because he couldn’t help it. What my parents didn’t realize is it just drew more attention to the outside world that this rolling fishbowl was bouncing down the interstate.

We finally stop at a Hardee’s and there are a ton of teenagers hanging out in the parking lot. At least I thought they were cool, I guess once I got older these would have been the losers hanging out in the parking lot. One of the guys yells to my dad, “Hey, nice car.” Dad smiles and says thanks and I die a little bit more from embarrassment. We get inside and I go to order, but dad says I can only have a kids meal and don’t think about asking for that cheese for an extra $0.10. We eat our dinner and I have to carry my kids meal toy to the car, a little pound puppy for all the cool kids in the parking lot to see.

The rest of the trip wasn’t that bad, dad’s family lived well off the beaten path so you could relax and not worry about somebody seeing you not being cool. There was the typical family conflict between my grandma and mom, because I once said ‘yes’ instead of ‘yes maam’ and my brother wasted the milk she paid for. Years later my dad sold the Pacer to my Papa, he drove it forever then it was parked. For all I know the thing could still be down there at my Nana’s house. Looking back on it it wasn’t that bad a trip and I am sure there were much worse ones I have blocked from my memory. One thing has become obvious, I am the way I am now for a reason……and I still hate Slim Wittman.