Let me explain. My father was big on car games. One of his favorites was to predict when the traffic lights would change from red to green. It was a magic trick. He’d say “1… 2… 3… lights change!” and then they would. Every time, without fail. Whenever I or my brothers would try it, nine times out of ten we’d get it wrong. It helped that Dad was playing against 8-year-olds. We didn’t understand until years later that he was just watching the traffic lights of the cross traffic to make his “predictions.”
Another game was spotting McDonald’s restaurants. Now, I’ve seen the documentary Super Size Me and I don’t really like to eat there, but there was a time when seeing a McDonald’s was exciting. The trick was to be the first to see it, however far away it was. If you did and you sang the song, you won.
Duh da da duh duh duh
Duh da da duh duh duh
This, of course, was a game we could play multiple times during even the shortest of car rides. So America’s struggle with obesity does have its perks.
Dad’s absolute most favorite game was one only he played because it wasn’t really a game. It was torture. Dad liked to pick out random, ugly women walking the street and tell my brothers that they were my girlfriend.
When you’re pre-adolescent, the worst thing in the world is girls. You know you’re gonna have to date and marry one eventually, but the thought of it makes you want to vomit and stick bugs up your nose. You hope, at the very least, that she’ll be pretty. That will at least make it somewhat tolerable.
“Look guys, there she is!” Dad would say with fantastic delight. “It’s Brock’s girlfriend! Look, it’s BROCK’S GIRLFRIEND!” And then he’d making loud kissing noises. And then he’d laugh. And so would my brothers.
I’d protest, but the more I did the worse the taunting got. Dad never chose women in other cars or attractive ones on billboards, so invariably I’d end up “attached” to bag ladies and, yes, hookers. This is how I learned who was pretty and who was not. And I became deathly afraid of liking a girl who wasn’t pretty. I didn’t want to be made fun of.
Memory confuses things and puts things together that don’t necessarily go together. When I’m driving through town and I see a prostitute walking the street, I think about about those car games. I think about traffic lights and McDonald’s. Conversely, when I see a McDonald’s, I think of hookers.
Huh. Maybe that’s why I don’t like to eat there.