Yesterday we got all the way to Nick's office in downtown DC before I realized I wasn't wearing my seat belt.
Somehow I was distracted when I got in the car and forgot to fasten it.
I always wear my seat belt. Always always always.
Not only am I a first-born-rule-follower, but whenever you're in the car, you realize how many stupid people are driving around you. Fully half the people on the road drive like they've had head injuries. No?
So the seat belts, air bags, and of course, just in case, those hammers to break your windshield, one if which I have, thanks to Laura, are a really good idea. There's no reason not to be as careful as possible.
But as a kid? I don't even think our car had seat belts.
This post is going to make our parents sound incredibly irresponsible, but you need to understand, it was a different era entirely. Before people knew that smoking causes cancer, for example.
Not to get all public safety on you.
When we lived in Bangladesh, we had the oldest VW bug you can imagine. We inherited it from someone who had just left the post. The top half of the headlights were painted black, because of cautionary blackouts during the war.
The floor of the back seat rotted out one monsoon season, and for a while we just drove with it like that. You could see the road underneath.
My father would joke that when he yelled "stop!" we should put our feet down, like the Flintstones.
Us kids, we loved it. It was very exciting.
Eventually they got it fixed. With plywood. It was post-war Bangladesh - what do you want?
Nick said that his family had a Chevy Corvaire, which I'd never heard of, but apparently is partly how Ralph Nader made a name for himself, with "Unsafe at Any Speed." Turns out they were really tall cars that tipped over shockingly easily.
What Nick remembers about their height was that as a little kid he was able to stand up. In the passenger seat. Without a seat belt. While his parents were driving.
This was rivaled, he said, only by the excitement of "surfing" on top of the station wagon. To be fair, his mom was driving really slowly while weaving down the driveway.
I also remember that my dad used to let me drive. In Bangladesh. Not in Egypt, because there was just too much traffic craziness. But I'd sit in his lap and steer the car. Nick said his parents did the same thing.
You think about how Britney got in such trouble for fleeing from the paparazzi with her kid in her lap. And then you contrast this with a five-year old me steering the car into the median, panicking.
Meanwhile, my Dad was all shockingly calm. "Turn a little more to the right, sweetheart."