Whether you went to CCD or Hebrew School or Sunday School...you could probably insert your name into my story. First of all, you got the new shiny shoes. I loved my new church shoes. We weren't poor, but we didn't have a lot of extra money to toss around, so my mom was always screaming at us about not going outside and scuffing them up before we pulled out of the driveway in the station wagon.
I remember exactly what my brother looked like in his. He used to walk, looking down at them, with a big smile on his face. I was just thrilled that I didn't have to wear my ugly everyday saddle shoes, built to last and to survive a nuclear explosion. I'd tried to destroy those things. I'd get up to an earth-shattering speed on my bike, careening toward the vacant lot at the dead end of our street, and at the very last second, I'd slam the toes of those saddle shoes down on the pavement and skid to a stop. Yes, they were scratched-up a bit, but my mom would just smile with her wry, I'm-on-to-you face and get out the polish. I think that polish she soaped them up with had liquid concrete in it, because they always seemed a little heavier each time.
So back to the driveway... You'd think all would be well in the Haywood station wagon. New shoes...it's Sunday...supposed to be a day of rest and reflection. My dad will tell you there was nothing restful about the Chevrolet BelAir on a Sunday morning. That was when all the fights broke out. It usually started with our older brother not wanting to go...or maybe someone had gotten grass stain on their good pants trying to act out their best NFL plays in anticipation of the afternoon television marathon. Then an all-out battle would break out in the back seat. No seat belts in the Chevy, so when my dad took a corner, there was the inevitable sliding into your brother. And my older brother was king of the painful finger flick. He could thump you a terrible one in the arm with virtually no detection from the front seat. Then there was always a good amount of sharp kicking. We usually arrived at church with my dad careening around the corner, one hand barely on the steering wheel and the other trying to take a wild swipe at anything in the back seat. One big plus to not having seat belts was you could slide swiftly on the vinyl and out of his reach. Thinking back, I'm surprised my mom didn't get out at the first stoplight and jog off into the sunset. Whenever I see a mom with a tight smile on her face on Sunday morning, I know exactly what went on in their car.
I wore my black patent leather shoes yesterday, but my Honda CRV is not the same. I miss that Chevy BelAir. Thinking back, if I would have had any sense, I would have positioned my saddle shoes in the driveway behind the back tires. Those saddle shoes are probably in some landfill near Auburn, Washington. I can see them sitting right on the top, virtually unscathed and still shining with my mom's seventy-two coats of cement polish.