Like most 16 year olds, the very thought of owning your own car and breaking away from your parents bosom, brings about a sweet euphoria of life without parental supervision. But like most 16 year olds funds of producing this thought is crushed by the economic reality of not having the means of buying your own car. This may be due to the fact that those of us who never had an allowance had about as much change in his pocket as an adult in Burundi. Picking up a part time job washing semi-trailers may help pay for a tank of gas, but it still doesn't make you enough to avoid driving your mom's Dodge caravan. If I had cool parents I could have been learning how to drive a stick in a classic 69 Dodge Charger or maybe cruising around the streets of LA in a new (at the time) Lexus sc300. But believing my parents could no longer punish me like they use to when I was a child, found a whole new punishment befitting my rebellious years. Enter the 1990 Dodge Caravan.
Normally I would be appalled and detest the very idea of being seen in such a pathetic excuse of a vehicle. But at 16 and full of vinegar it provided me the one thing I never had experienced until then. Freedom. Pure uninterrupted freedom. But like with all freedom it comes a price, and this price was leaving your Manmarbles in the driveway before stepping into the van. No matter, this new luxury abled me to go and do things I never could before. Up till then my previous boyhood expansion of the known universe was limited by peddle bike and how much sugar and caffeine I had earlier that day.
To say the van was a flying death trap would be an understatement. It had more shakes than a Turkish belly dancer, The windows would randomly fall off, and the steering wheel even committed suicide in mothers lap one afternoon. Can't say I blame it. It could have been steering a F1 driver around Monaco, or chasing a bad guy in the streets of San Francisco. But no, it had chauffeur soccer moms around the suburbs instead. Our Caravan was the color of duct tape and had an aerodynamic efficiency of a lead casket. This too is good news, because they won't have to look hard to find one to bury you in. Too bad that no one would be caught dead seen in it - that is, until the next time you and your pubescent friends want to go out on the town, and this meant parading the strip.
Now "the strip" should be considered a sociological experiment in itself. Those of us, who haven't snuck into the bars by 9pm, are now subjected to the animalistic calls of the night life on a strip of paved depravity. This may be the only time in recorded history where one could get away picking up the opposite sex in unfashionable manner, because both she knows and you know that you’re driving on borrowed time. The whole idea of picking up girls on the strip is complete and utter nonsense. Your style is terrible, your face is breaking out, you’re neither a boy nor a man and your changing voice proves that. I found it hard enough to talk females without all these challenges going on - but add matching the speed of your vehicle with that, the adolescent girl is driving, and trying to say something witty enough for them to smile at you, is like juggling Dobermans on fire while shaving blindfolded - apocalyptic failure. It never did have the romanticism of American Graffiti, but despite all obstacles and handicaps, you conjure up a wink, or maybe a smile, or *gasp* her phone number. Too bad that too will be called from your parents borrowed house phone...