Column: Theres nothing quite like dragging Main next to a pretty girl

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

A young fellow driving a beat-up car passed me the other day.

I&8217;m used to being passed by young drivers, but this one brought back memories.

When I was a young fellow, somewhere between grass and hay, I drove junkers. In those days when adults tried to keep me from learning what I already knew, I was the last owner of every car I drove. When I tried out a car, I took it for a test push.

So I empathized with the youthful operator of the old beater immediately.

There was one big difference between the young man and me in my green times.

This young man was talking on a cell phone.

I didn&8217;t have a cell phone while I was putting on my early miles. I had something that was even more distracting while I drove.

A girlfriend.

My girlfriend and I would sit close and snuggle as we cruised on down the road. You wouldn&8217;t have been able to slip a baseball card between us.

It was good.

The only cruise control we had was the willpower we displayed by refraining from smooching while driving.

I think Roger Miller said it best in his song, &8220;Yeah I see you goin&8217; down the street in your big Cadillac. You got girls in the front, you got girls in the back. Yeah, and way in the back you got money in the sack. And both hands on the wheel and shoulders rared back.&8221;

Then Roger went on to say something about how he wished he had my good luck charm and I had a do-wacka-do-wacka-do-wacka-do-wacka-do.

Whatever that meant.

He had me pegged except for the money in the sack, the Cadillac, and the girls in the back, but with a pretty girl by my side, I felt like I had money in the sack.

I don&8217;t see couples sitting that close very often anymore. And there&8217;s a good reason why I don&8217;t. Seat belts. Seat belts are a good thing to use for people who want to live a long time.

Sometimes we&8217;d loop Main. Up one way to a stop sign before making an illegal U-turn and then down the other. This process was repeated over and over. We called it dragging Main. There were no potholes. It was wicked excellence. We could make an entire date out of dragging main because even a big spender like me could afford endless driving when gas was only 35 cents a gallon. I couldn&8217;t afford not to drive.

Entertainment was provided by my scintillating conversation that showcased my incredible insights.

At least, that&8217;s how I remember it. Further entertainment was provided by the AM-only radio that produced heart-pounding rock and roll emanating from such stations as WDGY, WLS, KOMA and KAAY.

I loved hearing the singer croon, &8220;Spinning wheel, got to go round,&8221; as we went around and around. I knew it was merely coincidental, but I amused myself by thinking it ironic.

We were out there burning fossil fuels and adding to global warming. Recapped tires, coughing carburetors, tired brakes and thunderous malfunctioning exhaust systems carried us on our journey. We must have reduced our driving instructor to tears.

I followed the genuine imitation rubber spider that hung from my rearview mirror. The spider&8217;s purpose was to have no purpose. I wonder whatever happened to that spider? It was to prove to be merely another symbol of a lifetime of annoying behaviors on my part. Years later, I read that the English think that a spider in the bride&8217;s wedding dress brings good luck. I suspect it might also bring the possibility of a spider bite.

Dragging Main was the closest we came to Mister Toad&8217;s Wild Ride. The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Ray Charles and The Beatles serenaded us.

We traveled extensively on Main drag.

It was a time to be young and free.

It was a learning experience. It was at a stop sign that I came to realize that any time I think I have the last word in an argument with a woman; it&8217;s really the first word in a new argument.

Dragging Main was a sort of real-life version of the movie &8220;Groundhog Day,&8221; only one that I was in no hurry to free myself from.

All in all, it was a pretty good way to spend those growing-up years.

After all, that girlfriend by my side &8212; she became my wife.

Not a bad deal.

I hope the young man&8217;s cell phone does him as well.

(Hartland resident Al Batt&8217;s column appears every Wednesday.)