The family van, circa 1992, is parked in the driveway under a mound of snow. Technically it still works, but my son - after using it for his summer painting business and coating the inside with liberal lashes of paint - has left the van to live out its days as a driveway ornament.
This van has been through a lot, what with three kids virtually raised in it. I was in it so often, it felt like a second home. It even looked like a second home, seeing as it was always filled with bits of food and single shoes and the occasional pair of panties thrown on the floor. The Underpants Miscreant paid dearly, because I put the flowered panties on my head and drove through town with the window open, asking passersby for directions whilst my children huddled in the back.
There was the night the neighbour's cat crawled into the van as we unloaded groceries. He was there overnight. And he had a urinary tract infection. And the medication he was on gave him diarrhea. That's when we decided to upgrade, and we gave the car to our son. He was happy to have it, any set of wheels seemed like a good idea for a young teenage boy with a new licence. Until he started dating. Then he realized a family mini-van that smelled like a litter box wasn't exactly a chick magnet.
Then there was the apple I found under the seat. This recalcitrant fruit had been there for some time, through several freeze and thaw cycles. I prodded its swollen, bulging bottom, now resembling a tiny bean bag chair, ever so gently with my pinkie. The interior of the apple had liquified and was held together only by virtue of its tough skin (kind of like Mary Tyler Moore) so I had to be careful. Instinct, and past experience with delinquent juice boxes, told me that if I picked up this apple, there was only the RISK of detonation, but leaving it there meant that with just one tiny bump or sneaker kick, we would be looking at a cider explosion of epic proportions. Suddenly, the paint splotches looked benign, nay, positively Pollockesque by comparison.
Not having a fruit bomb squad at my disposal, I did what any rational person would do. I went out at night, scooped it carefully with a spatula and flung it onto the neighbour's yard. Payback for that car-jacking, incontinent cat.
I'd take a photo of the van but my camera is broken.
What's that you say?
Your birthday is next month?
And your camera is broken?