Daily Archives: August 13, 2006

Some blog-related housekeeping

I’ve been away from my blog for nearly two weeks and am returning with some changes I want to let you know about. They each have to do with ways of responding to my posts, or being in touch.

First, you’ll notice on the sidebar I’ve given you a way to email me. Just click on the “Drop me a note” link above my photo. I hope this will make it possible for the shy among you to let me know what you think about what you read. I figure that some people don’t want their thoughts broadcast to the world and so this is a way for you to reach me without reaching anyone else who might come across my blog.

Second, for those who’ve tried to make a comment but have been put off by the need to register or fill in an email address and name, I’ve changed the rules for commenting. Now, instead of needing to be logged on or registered, anyone can make a comment, but the comments will be moderated by me. That means that they won’t show up until I’ve had a chance to read and approve them. The purpose of either approach is to cut down on spam, but the latter approach may make you feel more free to comment since you don’t have to have an account anywhere.

So, now that I’m back and you have more options for participating in these discussions, I hope they’ll become richer and more interesting. My next post will specifically ask for your thoughts. I hope you’ll share them!

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Brat: Should I have known as a child?

It isn’t what you think. Or maybe, if you were a peculiar sort of child in the 1980s, it is what you think.

This memory came to me the other morning as I was walking with Will. We were talking about a car that a lover of his once owned.

I have never been one to take note of cars. Generally speaking I find them uninspiring. But I have a very vivid memory from about the time I was 10 or 11 years old of a particular, peculiar car I used to see driving around my apartment complex. It was not a beautiful car. It was not a car that ordinary people loved. My friends raved about Mustangs or Irocs or other fast and sexy sports cars. This was not that kind of car.

I particularly remember seeing it by the pool area as I would walk with my friends, wrapped in towels decorated with Snoopy or Bugs Bunny or Wonder Woman, still dripping water and feet smack-smacking in wet flip flops or jellies, from the pool to whichever of our respective apartments was likely to have the best snacks, and where we could put Grease on the VCR for the hundredth time without a parent complaining.

It was a Subaru Brat circa early 1980s. Neither truck nor car, it was possibly the strangest mass-market auto ever made. It seemed to exist to defy categorization. It was not a station wagon. It was not a pickup truck. It seemed designed for kids and dogs but this one, yet didn’t seem to be a “family car.” I don’t know who bough them.

Riding in the back of a pickup was sexy but dangerous and also illegal. Riding in the back of a station wagon was probably also dangerous and illegal, but mothers let their kids do that as a matter of course. The Brat had actual seats, outside, facing backward. It seemed built to walk right up to the rules and poke them in the chest and say “I dare you.” It didn’t quite break the rules but did seem to suggest that they were arbitrary and challengable. It was perfect for a kid like me who was a nerd and a geek and a conformist and yet who didn’t fit in to any groups. How on earth can a conformist not fit in? Maybe that was why I was so fascinated by this silly car.

Like I said, I never did pay much attention to cars. But the Brat spoke to me. I don’t remember anything about the driver, and I couldn’t tell you if, at the time, I even took note of who owned it. But I know that I wanted to ride in the back of this Brat, in one of those backward facing seats, and I imagined somehow that such a ride would mean a rush of freedom and I remember thinking of this in somewhat erotic terms. I remember a fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach when I would see it parked by the pool area.

Maybe this early infatuation with a strange and unpopular auto was partially responsible for imprinting on my impressionable pre-teen brain a love for things that are hard to classify, for liminality, and for the spaces in between. Maybe I should have paid more attention to cars as a child.

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