_THAT’S THE HIGHWAY_

* 9 … THE DRIVE AND A REVELATION * (02/21/2011)

The drive seemed to take forever, but the elder brother wasn’t sure if that was because he wasn’t driving or because the two brothers sat in silence the entire time in the car. But, that silence gave the elder one a chance to remember a different time in their lives.

“But, Dad, I want to drive the Caravan, not the Caprice!”, the youngest sibling had exasperated to his father.

“No,” his Dad had firmly said. “If you want ME to teach you how to drive, you will first learn how to handle the Caprice.”

The eldest sibling had just shook his head as he watched his younger brother try in vain to NOT drive the Caprice. From the time the 2 boys had each received their permit and subsequent drivers license, the 1976 Caprice was the only car the oldest wanted to drive and the relatively-still-new 1990 Caravan was the vehicle of choice for the younger boy. But, their Dad held the firm belief that drivers should learn how to handle all sorts of cars … “because you never know when you’ll have to drive someone to the hospital in a car not your own.”

So, the youngest boy grudgingly took the keys from his father and clomped out to the Caprice. Their father shook his head, turned to his eldest son and said, “I guess I know who wants the Caprice when your mother and I are gone.” Then, their father walked out the door.

The oldest watched out the window as the youngest started up the Caprice and started backing it out of the driveway. He knew his brother hated the Caprice, but he wasn’t exactly sure why. The Caprice had a lot more character than the Caravan ever would, and in most collisions, the Caprice would just about annihilate any newer vehicle on the road.

Almost 2 hours later, the youngest and their father returned home, and upon entering the house, the youngest declared, “I hate that Caprice … and never want to drive it again.”

The memory of that statement shook the elder brother back to the present, and he turned to look at his younger brother, and said. “So, why DO you hate this Caprice so much?”

The younger brother, startled at the broken silence, quickly glanced at his brother, then back to the road and said, “Because it was something that you and Dad loved so much and shared. I couldn’t stand it. Dad never loved the Caravan. To Dad, that Caravan was just a purchase to quiet Mom’s pestering of wanting a newer car to drive. I think, deep down, Dad hated that Caravan about as much as I know you did. I remember how thrilled Dad was when he got rid of the Caravan and bought the Crown Vic for Mom.”

The youngest paused, and the eldest, knowing his younger brother to be correct thus far, jumped in: “So, why, then, the sudden interest in driving the Caprice?”

“Because…” the younger brother paused to choose his words carefully. “Because I’m finally realizing how sweet this Caprice really is. I mean, my radio show is all about older country music … and this car blends right in with those old tunes. And…well…it is a piece of Americana that seemed to disappear right along with the joy of road trips when the interstates were built. Cars today … well … I’m realizing that they just don’t have the class and character that older ones do. Are they more reliable? No question. But, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of an older car…and nothing quite like the feeling of driving along Route 66 versus those interstates.”

Again, the younger brother paused, trying to find more words, but the older brother interrupted: “So, why ARE you here?”

The older brother was amazed at how much he had learned in just the last few minutes … and he was hoping his younger brother still had some words of explanation left in him before they arrived at the business.

The younger brother sighed a bit, and finally said, “Because I miss Mom and Dad. I’m still a city boy through and through, but believe it or not, I miss the small town life where it is a slower pace, where you can leave your doors unlocked and not worry about someone stealing anything, where people know who everyone is, where older cars like this Caprice are welcomed and NOT frowned upon. I’m finally realizing that some of the older country music that I love so much … is about that type of life … that time that so many people relive as they travel Route 66. And…well…I’m hoping to gather enough information to convince my boss at WSM to allow me to ‘take the show on the road’ and do some live broadcasts all along Route 66.”

The younger brother only stopped talking because he had steered the car into the parking lot of their family business, but the older brother had finally heard the explanation he and his sister had wanted to know. Now, he knew that the possibility of having a travel companion was definitively greater than it had been just a few hours prior, and he had a hunch what the vehicle of choice should and would be.

“Good”, the eldest said. “Thank you for telling me what is going through that head of yours. I know our sister will be glad to hear it, too, when she arrives in a few minutes. We’ll talk more later. In the meantime, let’s go open up and get ready for visitors.”

With that, the youngest shut off the Caprice and handed the keys to his older sibling, who considered for a moment giving them back to his younger brother, but he didn’t. Instead, he pocketed them, and the pair exited the Caprice, each man with a better understanding and a newer perspective than they had earlier in the morning.

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